Traveling with small kids is overwhelming for new moms, especially those who are traveling alone with one kid for the first time or more than one kid, newborn baby, a lap child, toddler, or a teenager – no matter what age they are at – packing smart for kids is very important to ensure a smooth hassle-free flight.
When you have big kids over 5 years of age, they can carry their backpacks and toys or pack basic travel essentials for their flight. However, if you have little ones under 4 years of age traveling all by yourself, pack everything essential in carry-on luggage.
Deciding on your basic essentials for a lap child, infant or grown-up is a little tricky, regardless of your destination.
Most importantly, remember how long your trip will be and your flight time, whether you are traveling internationally or flying domestic, you need essentials in your hand-luggage bag, not neglecting the time of your flight and things you might need at arrival.
In the US, airlines charge for a carry-on bag for domestic flights unless you are a privileged member of an airline. International flights allow you to carry two check-in bags, one carry-on hand luggage, and a laptop bag or a handbag.
If you are flying alone with kids, you need to be very specific about the stuff you have to take on the plane since you do not want to overpack – with kids travel light is extremely important. Because you are the one who is going to carry everything.
Traveling during this pandemic seems quite daunting at so many levels. If you plan your trip with kids, take the right measures. Most people stayed home and didn’t go out because of the virus. Consequently, the immunity we develop daily (under normal circumstances) has gone too low. Lack of immunity means more chances of falling sick.
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Carry-on bag Essentials for moms flying with babies and toddlers
When you travel, you cannot skip anything essential while on the plane. Also, you need to have a minimalist approach as you do not want to pack everything you have to carry all by yourself – everywhere you go.
This post is typically to help moms with two kids under 2 years old or travel with a lap child and a toddler.
1. Backpack or a small strolling suitcase
First thing first, you need a Backpack – light, sturdy, and spacious. As kids’ stuff is a lot to adjust in one backpack, It shouldn’t be heavy, and it should be sturdy to handle all the extra weight.
I have recently traveled with my 6-month-old and my other two (7, 5) to Orlando, and this time with my baby backpack, I have carried a Fannie Pack Crossbody for passports, ID, and my cell phone for easy and quick access. It was a sanity savor, and way better than carrying a backpack.
For my baby stuff, I have this baby diaper backpack and it is absolutely spacious with multiple pockets and compartments to organize stuff.
2. Ziplock bags for quick security scan
Another must-have item is TSA-approved clear travel bags; you need to put stuff for easy recognition or stay organized for easy access.
Your packing has to be super organized and easily accessible so you can enjoy traveling with your family without delays for the TSA security scan.
Using Ziploc bags instead is another way to keep things organized in your bag. Just make sure they are sealed properly, so things don’t fall out in your bag.
3. Organize diapers and wipes in a separate Ziploc bag for easy excess in a hand luggage
Diapers – Decide on diapers based on your judgment. Keep a couple of extra diapers if you are on a very long flight, or sometimes kids get diarrhea if they pick anything from the floor and eat it or put toys in their mouths.
Wipes – You do not need a full pack of wipes for flight. Keep it light and use a travel pack based on your judgment on how much you will need. However, do not forget to keep separate wipes for your trip in your luggage.
- Diaper changing sheets, either Disposable or regular changing sheet
- Diaper disposing sacks – keep about 15 to 20 bags or more in your carry-on for diaper
disposal or soiled clothes.
- Travel-size diaper balm.
- Hand and face wipes because with kids, you need them.
Organize all of these changing station essentials in a freezer-size Ziploc and put it in your backpack.
Update: I just had a long vacation with kids, and we had to take about five flights in about 15 days. It was crazy yet fun! I had experienced a few TSA security delays. Every time it was something different.
Let me tell you what those delays were all about.
To avoid delays, do not forget to take out baby wipes and put them in the tray.
One more thing that was different this time was diaper rash cream. Diaper rash cream was concerning for them in a couple of security scans.
Finally, if you have kids’ snacks, baby food, or packaged yogurt, make sure you take it out and put it in the tray to save time and make an easy scan.
Laptops, tablets, and iPads should be out of cover for serious scans, such as for the US if you are traveling from any other country. Most international flights depending on where you are heading.
As of August 2023, during security checks for domestic flights, TSA still swipe-checked baby formula powder. It was in my carry-on. That being said, if you have powdered formula put that in a tray with medicines, milk, etc.
4. An Extra outfit for mom and the baby
An extra outfit for your baby and an extra shirt for yourself. If you have long flights like international flights, you might want to keep a full extra outfit for yourself too.
Staying comfy in your clothes is the best you can do for yourself and your kids while on the plane.
Just a gentle reminder: If you are going to wear a backpack or hold a baby on a flight, do not wear too many layers. You might get too exhausted or uncomfortable with so many layers on.
5. Feeding essentials for a lap-child or infant
You need to have baby feeding bottles, ready to use (for newborn babies) or formula bottles. You have to make sure all ready-to-use bottles have to be sealed.
Although airlines do not allow carrying liquids on a plane of more than 100ml, you can still take baby formula milk and get everything scanned.
For breastfeeding newborns, feed on demand, especially around the take-off and landing time to prevent ear popping due to air pressure.
Pacifiers are essential for newborns and babies who take them. Take a couple of extra, once it falls down on a plane floor, do not use it again. Using a pacifier clip may help.
Get Water after a security check
You can get on the plane. You can get water from the airport after a security check. Even if you need warm water, you can always check from Starbucks or any food near your gate at the airport.
Kids’ food on a flight
If you have kids aged more than 2 years, it depends on what they eat while on the plane, depending on their preferences.
You can take chips, cookies, or sandwiches with you on a domestic flight.
For international flights, you can order kids’ meals. Check with your airline and see what they offer for kids. Some kids do not prefer airplane meals. So pack some of their favorite snacks.
Packing Baby food for air travel
For toddlers or babies more than 6 months, you can have packaged baby food – applesauce and yogurt, etc. with you.
To keep kids entertained the whole time, you must keep a variety of candies and snacks like lollypops, goldfish, gummy bears, sour patch gummies, fruit loops, etc. with you.
Have your kids’ food packed in a Ziploc bag, and once the security scan starts, do not forget to take everything out. There is quite a chance they might have to dig through all of your food to make sure it does not concern in any way for air travel.
If you have a whole milk bottle for the baby, make sure it is not in the packaged bottle as it will not be okay if there is a plastic layer on the bottle. Although it doesn’t really matter, it is just a milk bottle, it will be much easier if you know what to do when you have to save time and stress.
Ideally, it will be much easier if you have milk in a baby’s milk bottle instead of a packaged one.
6. Kids’ medicines
Kids’ medicines are a must for a flight, whether it is a short or long-duration flight. Carrying the essential medicines on a plane while flying is important.
- Saline drops to deal with a dry nose for babies and toddlers.
- Motion sickness medicine for kids – Dramamine
- Benadryl for nausea as advised by pediatrician. or Zyrtec for allergies.
- Hand sanitizer for frequent hand cleaning.
- Disinfecting wipes if anything falls down, crazy, right?
- Imodium for diarrhea only for kids aged 4 and above.
You must discuss every medicine for your kids with your child’s pediatrician.
Update: Do not forget to take medicines out of your bag before security scans for more convenient TSA checks.
7. Face Masks for traveling
We all know how essential is a face mask for us during this pandemic. When you are traveling with kids or alone, you must carry a face mask with you. However, CDC does not recommend a facial covering for kids younger than 2-year-old as they may not be able to remove it without assistance. While you are traveling with kids, make sure you take the right measures and sanitize everything responsibly.
If you are traveling with an infant, a car seat cover is a good alternative to protect your child from getting sick. Also, you can use it as a nursing cover.
8. Plane-friendly toys or activities for kids
You must carry some easy, lightweight, and fun toys for kids to keep them engaged. Make sure you visit the dollar store a couple of days before your flight and grab whatever you think your kids gonna enjoy while on the flight. Do not take too many, just a few, and give your child one at a time.
My son loves cars, and he loves to play with 4 to 5 small cars at a time. For travel, a hot wheel or matchbox car pack does the trick every time. Do not forget to keep a sanitizing spray to keep toys clean.
You might have to carry a travel pillow and a blanket for domestic flights for your baby.
For international flights, I highly recommend Qatar Airways. I had a very comfortable flight with my kids. The airline is going to provide you with everything.
9. Blankets for long domestic flights
For long domestic flights, and during cold weather, the best thing is to take kids’ blankets in your carry-on essentials. Although it highly depends on the kids’ age still, if you have two kids under 3 years of age, you need to take everything two in number. One for each.
Even though international flights may offer blankets during the flight, so you do not need to carry an extra blanket in carry-on bags. However, if you still want to, you may carry kids’ lovey blankets.
Check out this space-saving blanket perfect for air travel.
Whether you will use everything for kids or not, you still have to carry their essentials with you, regardless.
Keep children well-behaved in their seats with age-appropriate airplane activities that will keep them busy and happily engaged during a flight. Read more
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