Flying with a Toddler: A Carry-on Packing List


Amid all the first world chaos that was our summer, we were able to take our family trip to Poland. I hated the 12+ flights to Poland when I would travel alone, so the thought of making that trek with a toddler made me nervous and exhausted. I scoured various baby and mommy blogs for packing lists and activity ideas. I tend to over pack as is, and when I did pack (more like stuff) all of the suggested items, the bag was huge. Luckily it passed the TSA and airline regulations, but it was very bulky and cumbersome to carry as I already had many bags, a stroller, and a toddler.

The list below is of items that, based on the knowledge/experience I have now, I would pack to carry on a second flight with my toddler. It is based on my toddler’s needs/personality and is merely a suggestion to be altered to your own child’s needs.

  • A stroller is a must. You check it at the gate before you board and it will be waiting for you when you exit the plane.
  • Sippy Cup/Bottle
  • Definitely pack formula or breast milk if your child still takes the bottle. Our airline had milk available and the flight attendant’s kindly warmed up the multiple cups of milk that I requested.
  • Baby food. I took 10 food pouches on our trip, which was about 7 too many. My toddler was constipated on the flight and didn’t want to eat much aside from a few bites of bread that came with our meals and a snack here or there. Our airline also provided baby food (Gerber baby food en route to Europe and Hipp [German equivalent] en route to the States).
  • Child’s “lovey” whether it is a blanket or toy. My son doesn’t leave home without his puppy.
  • Changing pad.
  • The amount of diapers and wipes depends on their accessibility at your destination. Since I could easily buy diapers in Poland, I packed eight diapers (I figured two diapers per hour, plus two extra). I would suggest packing one or two overnight diapers. Since they are more absorbent, you can go a little bit longer without changing the diaper. I put them on my son before he fell asleep and as we were getting closer to land. In one instance, my son was asleep for a while and slept through the landing. Once we landed, we needed to rush to our next terminal, while still having to wait in the long customs line. It was only until we boarded the next plane that I was able to change him.
  • Extra clothes. I brought one sweater and two changes of clothes for me and my son. This was a very good thing as my son threw up twice (all over himself and me) before we even went through security!  Don’t forget plastic bags for the soiled/dirty clothes or diapers.
  • Small container of baby soap. As mentioned above, my son threw up twice before our flight to Europe, resulting in a “shower” for me and my son in the sink of the airport bathroom. Needless to say, baby wipes and public restroom hand soap does not remove vomit stench completely.
  • Carabineer hooks. I used these to clip my son’s toddler backpack to my carry-on suitcase or the stroller when he didn’t want to wear it. I also used a hook to clip the diaper bag to the carry-on suit case so that I didn’t have a bagillion of loose travel pieces flying around. Most importantly, it served as a source of entertainment for my son for about 5 minutes. Win.
  • Toys.  My child’s lovey, a small book, and an Etch a Sketch were enough. A lot of sites suggested to bring a lot of small (wrapped) toys and take them out every hour or so to keep the child engaged. I refused due to limited space, but my mom brought a bag of small toys. My toddler didn’t show any interest in the toys. He was perfectly content with his lovey, Etch a Sketch, and carabineer hooks, and of course all the sights, sounds, and flight attendants aboard our flight(s).
  • Crayons and notepad/coloring book.  My son spent some time doodling in a blank notebook.  I bought triangular-shaped crayons so if dropped they wouldn’t roll away.
  • Medicine.  Always good to have on hand. I packed acetaminophen, ibuprofen, Pedialyte, and grype water. Please consult with your child’s doctor before administering any medication.
  • Antibacterial wipes. Airplanes are notorious for being germ hotspots. I wiped the armrests, tray table, and everything else wipeable that I knew little hands would touch.

Click here for the free printable list

Hope this list helps as you prepare for an upcoming trip. Safe travels!


One thought on “Flying with a Toddler: A Carry-on Packing List

  1. Pingback: Trip to the Motherland |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s