There’s a lot of information packed into this blog post. If you prefer, feel free to scroll to the bottom to see my recommended packing list for traveling with a lap child.
The most important part of traveling with a lap infant is managing expectations because traveling with a kid is never easy, even under ideal circumstances. Please keep reading if you’d like to hear some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.
During my son’s first 20 months, he has traveled on 15 flights (from takeoff to landing) and flew about 25,000 miles. And a majority of the time he traveled as a lap infant. We have experienced a lot together, from packing way too much to forgetting important gear. And as my son gets older, his needs change and my packing list adjusts accordingly. But each trip gets easier with experience and now we (mostly) enjoy traveling together. My son is not talking much, but I think he loves the stimulation and seeing new places and faces. And I’m never bored as the flights goes by very quickly for me.
In my personal opinion, traveling with a baby who is not mobile yet is much easier than traveling with a mobile baby or toddler. If you have a mobile child, search for a playground at the airport; a lot of airports have this feature now and it’s a life-saver.
And if you can afford it, I strongly recommend booking an extra seat if you’re traveling more than a couple of hours with a baby older than 6 months. Younger than 6 months old and you also have the option of booking a bassinet for longer flights.
DO I BRING A CARSEAT, STROLLER, OR BOTH?
We once traveled with an infant car seat, Uppababy Vista Stroller, and baby carrier to Europe. I regretted bringing the Uppababy Vista Stroller – it was much too large for our rental car and walking anywhere around town. I should’ve brought a travel stroller that worked with the infant car seat instead.
Once your child is old enough for the Cosco Scenera car seat, I recommend purchasing one. It’s the ultimate travel car seat: light weight, approved for flying, and ranked well on Consumer Reports. Not every kid likes their car seat, but my son sleeps very well in his. We purchased a car seat cart to get my son through the airport in his car seat and then borrowed a stroller once we arrived at our destination.
Or you could leave the car seat at home and rent one upon arrival, especially if you’re renting a car at your destination. Travel with a light-weight stroller or baby carrier, such as the Ergo 360. Keep in mind this is not recommended and it’s a little precarious, but we traveled through the airport with our son sitting in the Cosco Scenera car seat clipped into the Contours Bitsy stroller with a strap when he was 1.5 years old and it worked.
In any case, your needs will vary depending on your child and where you’re heading. But keep in mind that from about age 1 – 2 when your child is still considered a lap infant, you will most-likely want to pay for an extra seat to have extra space or to strap your child into a car seat. If you’d like to book an extra seat for your toddler, you will need to call the airline directly as you will most-likely not be able to book the seat online.
TOYS WE LOVE FOR FLYING
Dollar Store – just go crazy and buy a new toy for every hour of flight (as long as it fits in your carry on). When I can continuously pull out a new toy or snack for my son on the plane, he’s happy.
Aquadoodle Doodle Mat – a friend just gifted one to my son and it’s the first time I’ve seen him enjoy drawing!
Mini Toy Cars – this is seriously the best travel package for any toddler that loves cars. My son absolutely loves it.
And for the parents who are willing to allow their child to have screen time, of course there’s always the option of using a tablet. A lot of airlines are using GOGO In Flight to watch T.V. shows and movies, just make sure to download the app before your flight.
CARRY ON PACKING LIST
- Car seat and car seat cart with gate check bag and/or travel stroller with gate check bag
- Baby wearing gear
- Any and all gear needed for breastfeeding or formula (ex: bottles, haakaa, cover, etc.). Pumping and traveling was too stressful for me so I breastfed on demand and I’m sorry I don’t have advice for pumping mothers.
- Bibs for drool or bibs for eating & toddler cutlery
- Enough diapers, wipes, and diaper cream to last an entire day of traveling (just in case of travel delays)
- Travel diaper changing pad
- Extra outfits (for baby and Mom in case of blowouts or any other accident)
- Pajamas and sleepsack (for the baby or toddler) for overnight flights
- Pacifier or water bottle to use during takeoff and landing
- Toys (we didn’t need many toys until my son turned one)
- Snacks for the entire family
- Pacifier with pacifier clip for takeoff and landing
- Something familiar for baby (a blanket or very small stuffed animal)
- Cell phone and charger
- Tablet, headphones, and charger (for adults and/or older babies – my son didn’t show interest in a tablet until he was about 20 months old)
- Antibacterial hand spray, something like this
- Travel 1st aid kit
- Extra zip lock and/or plastic bags – you never know when you may need it
- Passports / Identification depending on where you’re headed
CHECKED BAG PACKING LIST
- Two outfits per day for the baby
- Socks (in a ziplock bag so they are easy to find)
- Bath supplies (we like to travel with a baby shampoo / soap, extra soft washcloth, one bath toy, and bath thermometer). We’ve even traveled with an inflatable bath tub, like this one!
- Summer trip: sunhat, sunscreen, swimsuit, swim diapers, sunglasses
- Winter trip: gloves, warm hat, and layers (sweaters)
- Rainy season: stroller rain cover, rain coats, rain boots
- Shirts, pants and/or shirts, dress or skirt
- Additional diapers and wipes
- Pajamas for everyone and sleep sack for baby
- Dress shoes and comfortable / casual shoes
- Dining: toddler utensils, bib
- Medicine: Vitamin D drops
- Just in case: Baby Tylenol and Nose Freeda with saline spray and Ibuprofen for the adults
- Baby monitor and travel sound machine
- Travel high chair
- Adapter plugs if traveling abroad
- Other: toiletries, prescription medicine, under garments, and handbag (not a diaper bag)
I like to go through this very detailed packing list a couple days before takeoff so that I have plenty of time to do laundry and edit my list as needed. Did I forget anything? Please share in the comments something you can’t travel without.
I used to travel pre-kid with a book, tablet, and noise canceling headphones. Now I have no need for those things, I’m too busy taking care of my son …