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Travel part 6: Plane pack list for toddler & baby

Traveling on a plane with a baby or toddler makes us all cringe a little. They’re unpredictable and none of us like the thought of making a scene or annoying fellow passengers. But during our travels, I’ve actually been surprised by how sympathetic most people are.

One lady gave me gummies for Luca to chew when the air pressure hurt his ears. On another flight, two dads shared their worst child-flight war stories. One kind lady in a terminal offered to help me close my bag because I was struggling to do so with a sleeping babe in my arms. Now, I’m not saying any of them wanted to sit anywhere near us on the plane! I’m just saying they were, for the most part, understanding and patient.

So try not to worry too much about fellow passengers. You have enough on your hands already. (And if there is a grump who gives you a mean look, don’t take it to heart. Just smile and carry on doing your best. They either don’t have children, or forget what it’s like!)

These kind gestures of strangers really touched me. When my kids are grown, I plan on paying it forward and being that helping hand to a mother with her hands full!

baby and toddler plane checklist

Some travel ideas

  • Wear a scarf. You can use it to cover them up on the plane or lay over airport chairs if they want to lay down. (I also used my scarf to cover the fastener of my son’s seat belt so he would be as tempted to undo it.)
  • Use clear bags to pack your snacks and toys so you can see items. (I save and reuse pouches sheets come in, for example.)
  • There are quite a few toy ideas on this list, but try not to take too many, or your bag will be overflowing chaos.
  • For our last overnight flight, I bought a 8-inch by 8-inch collapsible box from the dollar store to corral all those little toys and snacks that were ending up on the floor around our feet. It worked well and didn’t take up much space in the bag.
  • Don’t bother with a toddler back pack, it’s just another thing to almost leave on the plane. And your toddler won’t probably actually carry it — which means you get to.
  • Make sure you check out the TSA website for information on taking baby food and milk.
  • Don’t forget that you have priority boarding with kids! Go up front as soon as they start calling zones.

Click image to download above printable checklist.
IMAGES: Ball: Rhino Toys OBall, color with water: Melissa &  Doug, airplane: Green Toys, sticker: mochithings, headphones: Califone kids headphones, pouch spoon: Munchkin, Strawberry Gummi Bears: Albanese

Mom and Dad

  • driver’s license/passports
  • copy of baby’s birth certificate (to prove he’s under 2)
  • itinerary
  • wallet
  • keys
  • earbuds (you never know, you might get to use them)
  • empty water bottle (fill up at a water fountain after security and save a few bucks)
  • neck pillow (good for cushioning your poor elbow when holding a sleeping baby on a long flight)

Travel gear

  • baby carrier
  • kid leash (I always thought this looked odd on kids. But then I’d never met Luca before. These things were made for him — he will hit the ground running and not look back. He needs a leash!)
  • stroller (see thoughts about taking a stroller at the botton of this post)



  • koosh ball (Babies LOVE these things. Adriano’s physical therapist turned me onto them and says they’re always a baby crowd favorite.)
  • fabric book
  • little people
  • mardi gras beads (Be careful of cheap ones with peeling paint, though.)
  • OBall (it’s a flexible ball with holes, works well to string the beads through too!)


  • ipad/dvd player
  • dvds
  • headphones (these are really cute for little heads)
  • headphone splitter (for multiple kids)
  • flash cards or uno (toddlers can separate the uno cards by color)
  • something to draw with: triangular crayons (so they don’t roll off the tray table), MagnaDoodle, or color with water books
  • stickers
  • notebook or small-size coloring book
  • Post-its (You can draw shapes, use different colors, and stick them on a upturned tray table to quiz your little one. Mine enjoyed pulling the pages off one by one and sticking them around.)
  • finger puppets
  • small plastic animals
  • Band-Aids (Kids love Band-Aids! And if someone gets a boo boo, well, you’re ready.)
  • 4 or 5 books (Thanks to the mom who recommended Richard Scarry’s Day at the Airport.” It was a hit.)
  • Cars, Planes and Trains Magnetic Travel Tin (This tin has magnetic cars, planes and trains that can stick on an airport background. It has enough pieces so when you loose some, it won’t matter.)
  • lots of small wrapped toys (This one worked the best for us, so I put quite a few in. Like 15! I wrapped inexpensive old and new toys — toys we would have packed anyway. I put a couple different ones in checked luggage for the way back too.)



  • 2 bottles (just in case one goes missing)
  • formula in divided dispenser
  • fruit pouches
  • spoon that attaches to pouch
  • cheerios
  • bib


  • sippy cup
  • milk
  • goldfish crackers
  • trail mix
  • yogurt melts
  • fruit pouches
  • gummy fruit (helps with little ears during take-off and landing)
  • cookies (I actually rarely give Luca sugar, but if there was ever a time for bribery, this would be it.)
  • lolipops (More bribing. And this will at least keep his little mouth busy from talking for a little bit.)


  • diapers
  • millions of wipes
  • changing pad
  • small tube of diaper cream
  • empty plastic bags (for dirty diapers or clothing)
  • hand sanitizer
  • change of clothes for each child
  • socks


  • pacifiers
  • pacifier ribbon and clip (If you’re using a pacifier, try not to forget this one. You don’t want that thing falling on the terminal floor or in between the airplane seats!)
  • blanket (or mom’s scarf)
  • baby tylenol and dispenser

Travel series

Travel part 1: Before vacation checklist
Travel part 2: Light packing travel clothes for mom
Travel part 3: Light packing travel clothes for toddler boy
Travel part 4: Luca & Adri’s trip to Italy
Travel part 5: What NOT to do traveling overseas with a toddler
Travel part 6: Plane pack list for toddler & baby

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Also see

Keep kids busy on the plane with an activity binder. Here's what I put in mine.

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