When traveling with a baby, there are so many little things to remember (and forget!). Taking a family vacation with an infant, baby or toddler doesn’t have to be a challenge when you know what to bring. This guide to packing a diaper bag and must-have baby travel essentials for little ones will help!
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. This article originally published September 5th, 2016 and has been updated and republished with a new date.
Best Tips for Traveling With a Baby
I remember the first time I took my baby on her first extended vacation. There was so much to remember when I packed! Not only was I figuring out my own suitcase there was also my baby’s supplies to tote.
Are you overpacking for your baby? Or not packing enough? It’s a careful balance to be sure. You don’t want to be that traveler jamming the car full of unnecessary items because you think the baby needs it all. This article will help you pare down to the basics that will still allow you to travel with ease.
How to Pack for a Trip With a Baby
Whether headed to the beach, camping, city or theme park, when traveling with a baby in diapers you’ll need the same important essentials.
Keep reading for the helpful vacation guide with tips on taking the baby on a trip. There’s also a free baby packing list you’ll want to print and use when filling the luggage.
I’m sharing suggestions for toys, swim and bath products and road trip requirements. And of course figuring out that all important number of how many diapers to pack for your travels!
Baby Travel Essentials – Can You Buy It When You Get There?
Depending upon where you’re going, you might need to pack everything you’ll need upfront. This could be because the location in which you’re headed might not have the supplies you need. You may not want to replenish or purchase when you get there because of higher cost concerns.
If possible, consider these options which include shipping the items or buying there. If you know the products you need are readily available in stores, wait and buy it when you get there. That’s a decent idea if you don’t want to have to pack and tote bulk consumable items like baby formula and diapers.
Another option is to have the items shipped to your destination. If you’re staying with family, that’s an easy choice. Purchase items online and have them sent ahead of your trip so the packages are there before you arrive.
Call hotel locations ahead of time to verify what their policies are for accepting deliveries. Some hotels will have requirements for the shipping label, timelines for holding packages or may charge a fee.
Diapers and Wipes are Top of the Baby Packing List
When it comes to traveling with a baby, it’s easy to over pack. But when diapers are concerned, you never want to be stuck without! This is how to figure out how many diapers to bring with you on the trip.
How Many Diapers to Bring on a Trip?
So, how can you figure out how many diapers to bring with you on a trip? In the week leading up to your vacation, take note of how many diapers you go through each day with your baby.
I kept a notepad and a pencil on the shelf above my baby’s changing table to make a tally. Average the number of diapers you’ve used over the week to figure out a daily amount and then multiply that by the number of days you’ll be away from home.
Just to be on the safe side, put in about two extra diapers per day of your trip…just in case!
Do the same for the baby wipes but definitely bring additional extras of these. WaterWipes baby wipes are convenient for cleaning messy fingers and faces as well as bottoms!
Best Travel Clothes for Babies and Toddlers
When traveling with your baby in diapers, consider these logistics for choosing the best vacation outfits. Pick breathable fabrics that will be comfortable during long drives in their car seat.
Only choose separates that make diaper changes easy. Avoid outfits with buttons or snaps on the back of the clothing. These can be uncomfortable for babies to lay on for long periods of time.
Zip Footie Pajamas – For infants, skip those fancy outfits and go straight for the pajamas all day. Avoid multi-piece outfits that will bunch up and cause discomfort for a baby. Grab this organic cotton zip-up footie from Primary in all the colors!
One-Piece Rompers – When traveling with a baby in diapers, snap-crotch bubble onesies are probably the most ideal when the weather is warm. Look for long sleeved one-piece jumpers with a snap crotch when it’s chilly. Toddlers will appreciate the comfort factor. You’ll appreciate the quick diaper changes with clothing that’s simple in design!
My go-to for the best children’s clothing is Primary. They offer gender-neutral mix and match pieces in every color of the rainbow. Lots of coordinating outfits to match older siblings too! Use code AFT20PCT to save 20% and receive free shipping on your first order.
Sun Hat – If you’re planning to be outdoors, a baby sun hat is required. Opt for a stylish version like this with a wide brim, breathable materials and a chin strap to keep it secure.
Must-Have Baby Travel Toys
Older kids can leave their toys behind when they go on vacation. But it’s important to pack a few toys for the baby whenever you leave home. Toys can help with boredom, especially if the baby is kept in their car seat or stroller for longer than usual periods of time.
If your baby has a few favorite items, be sure to bring those on the trip. In addition purchase a few new baby travel toys for variety while traveling. When your child gets fussy, surprise them with one of the new items!
Travel Teething Toy – If you have a teething baby you know that gnawing is a big deal! This teething mitten offers up safe-to-chew bumpy grooves and ridges. The adjustable Velcro strap secures the glove to baby’s hand so the toy is less likely to fall on the floor or get lost.
Car Seat Toys – This soft cotton hanging toy mobile spiral-wraps around the handle of the car seat with dangling toys for baby to play with.
Electronic Baby Toy – Babies love the stimulation of lights, sounds and music! VTech rules when it comes to educational electronic baby toys. This small-sized Happy Lights Bear serves up songs, phrases and flashing lights. The cuddly bear Velcros to the stroller or car seat.
If you’re traveling on public transportation or on a plane, avoid anything with annoying or loud sounds so as not to disturb other travelers! Relegate noisy electronic items to the rental car only.
I have an extra tip to minimize the noise of electronic toys. Place a piece of electrical tape over the speaker to quiet the sound when there’s no volume control.
Baby Toy Straps – Keep toys from dropping on the ground with silicone baby toy straps. Secure rattles, chew toys and sipper cups to the car seat, high chair or stroller to prevent them from getting lost or dirty.
Baby Travel Essentials for the Hotel
One of the most challenging things about traveling with a baby is sharing a hotel room. When baby goes to sleep, generally everyone else has to turn off the lights and be quiet too! Consider booking a suite with a separate bedroom door. This way if you have older children, they don’t have to go to sleep when baby does.
Inflatable Bath Tub – If baby is too small to sit up or too big to fit in the bathroom sink for a wash, consider packing this. The inexpensive Inflatable Duck Tub will make bath time easier and it won’t take up any extra space in your luggage.
Touch-Control Night Light – Moving around blindly in a dark hotel room when baby wakes at night is recipe for disaster. You don’t want to turn on a light and risk waking everyone else up either.
Plug in a nightlight like this Touch Control Nightlight Lamp to help you see where you’re going. It will make midnight feedings and diaper changes easier without waking everyone else in the room.
Away From Home Sleep Needs for Little Kids
Whether driving or in a crib, nap and sleep routines are important to maintain when traveling with babies. A disrupted sleep pattern can cause havoc, resulting in overly grouchy behavior. Aim to travel during regular nap times in the hopes that baby will sleep while driving or flying.
These baby travel essentials can help regulate naps and nighttime sleep for your child:
Car Seat Head Support – If you’ve ever rigged up your own head support for the toddler sleeping in a car seat, this is the road trip product for you! This simple to install Car Seat Child Head Support keeps toddlers heads from slumping when their napping.
Sun Shade – Nobody likes the sun in their eyes, especially young kids who are trying to rest. Block out the rays and heat during long car trips with a simple window sun shade. This one stretches to fit and has suction cups to secure on the glass.
Sleep Sack – Skip the blankets in the crib and use a muslin sleep sack for bedtime. The fabric is soft, breathable, and lightweight but will keep baby warm enough if the hotel air conditioning is running.
For colder nights or in outdoor locations like on a camping trip bundle toddlers in a warmer sleeper sack. This version has foot openings for walking babies. There’s diaper access via a reverse zipper.
White Noise Machine – If the strange noises at a hotel are interrupting your baby’s usual sleep patterns, this VTech White Noise Sound Machine is perfect. Petite-sized for travel with a rechargeable battery, it features both gentle lullabies and ambient sounds.
Baby Travel Essentials for Flying
Sucking can help relieve ear pain with babies during elevation and descent on an airplane. Chewing gum can help older kids and adults. For babies try using a bottle, pacifier or breastfeeding. My friend Leslie at Trips With Tykes has tons of helpful tips for flying with a lap child.
Pacifier – Each baby seems to have their own preference of pacifiers. And some babies (like my daughter) refused to use one. Have a few on hand just in case.
If traveling with a pacifier is essential, make sure the Nuk doesn’t get lost on your travels! Secure pacifiers to baby’s clothing with one of these convenient pacifier clips.
Keeping a Toddler Happy While Traveling
Whether you’re flying or hitting the open road, keeping toddlers happy while traveling can be tough! I recommend scheduling your travel times during their regular nap schedule. If you can ensure that your younger child takes a nap this can make everyone’s trip go a little smoother!
Car Seat – If you’re flying somewhere and will need a car seat when you get there, bring the seat onto the plane. Your toddler will have a comfortable and safe place sit in the airplane. And bonus, they’re more likely to nap if they’re latched into their car seat!
My favorite car seat to travel with is the inexpensive Cosco MightyFit 65 Convertible Car Seat. Rear-facing for babies from 5-40 pounds or forward-facing for children 22-65 pounds. It’s also reasonably lightweight and easy to install into a rental car.
WikkiStix – The perfect travel craft, WikkiStix are mess-free and easy for little ones to use. These soft and pliable bendy sticks adhere to each other or to a smooth surface for ideal quiet time entertainment.
Reading Material – Pack a few baby books but make them lightweight and able to hold up to wear and tear. The Indestructibles Baby Book series are great to entertain toddlers with a story on the road. Or baby can just chew on the pages, whatever!
Swimming and Sun Tips When Traveling with a Baby
If you’re planning a full day in the sun, make sure that your baby is well protected from sunrays and heat. This means extra hydration, just like you should be getting.
Babies should be nursing or bottle feeding more often. Older babies and toddlers should drink water or Pedialyte to keep them from getting dehydrated. These are the baby travel essentials when you’re outdoors or traveling during the hot summer season:
Swim Diapers – A necessary packing item if you plan to let baby swim. Whether in the hotel pool or at the beach swim diapers are a must.
If you prefer an eco-friendly option, choose a reusable swim diaper like this version with side snaps. This preference works best if you have access to a bathroom toilet and washing machine while traveling.
Pop Up Beach Tent – An open sided Beach Shelter offers an escape from the direct sun, essential for babies and young children. This version has a flat bottom to keep sand away, windows for ventilation and a hanging hook for a battery operated fan. It folds down like a car sun shield into a tiny carrying bag so it’s excellent for travel to any beach locale.
One-Piece Rash Guard – Choose a swimsuit with built-in UPF 50+ sun protection. This Primary long sleeved rash guard is all one piece but still has a snap gusset for fast diaper access.
Pool and Beach Baby Travel Essentials
Depending upon the age of your child, one of the following versions of pool floaties might work for your needs. Naturally, these floaties aren’t a replacement for supervision. Parents should remain within arms reach of their baby around water.
Baby Spring Float – This SwimWays Baby Spring Float offers younger babies a gentle way to float on the water while keeping their face dry and out of the sun. The product is also easy to close and carry so it’s ideal for taking on a trip.
Kid’s Life Jacket – This SwimWays Sea Squirts Learn-to-Swim Life Jacket is not inflatable and therefore will take up more space in your suitcase. But if you’re planning to be in the water a lot, the safety factor of this Coast Guard approved product might outweigh. Be sure to read the description on weight and size to ensure this will properly fit your child.
Suncreen – A travel essential for everyone, whether the sun is shining or behind clouds. Look for varieties like Babyganics Mineral Sunscreen. Ask your pediatrician to know their recommendations for application of sun protection lotion onto newborn skin. Reapply often, especially after water exposure.
Sunglasses – Headed to the beach or some place where the sun is particularly bright? A pair of baby sunglasses can help keep crankiness down when the sun is out of their eyes.
Baby Travel Essentials for Feeding Away From Home
Whether you’re feeding from the bottle or the breast, eating in a restaurant or on the road, these are some of the must-have items when traveling with a baby.
As a nursing parent, you can breastfeed your baby any where you wish. Some babies are challenged with nursing in public because they are distracted by activity around them. A nursing cover up can come in handy if you prefer privacy when breastfeeding or if your baby needs less distraction.
Nursing Cover – Choose a nursing cover up that’s lightweight to prevent overheating. The Milk Snob Nursing Cover doubles as a cocoon for infant car seats.
Snack Cups – These spill-proof Snack Keeper cups hold food with soft flaps on top for access. Fill them up with Goldfish crackers or animal crackers for the perfect to-go toddler snack.
Sipper Cups – We all try our best to keep track of everything when traveling. Inevitably something ends up missing. It’s usually the sippy cup that rolls under the car, falls out of the stroller or gets left at a restaurant.
Skip the pricey sippers and buy a set of these Take & Toss Spill-Proof Sippy Cups. If one gets lost, you’ll have a few to spare.
Bibs – If you have access to laundry, these machine washable bibs are superb for feeding time. In a pinch use a baby wipe to clean off small messes.
No washing machine, no problem. Disposable bibs offer protection to clothing from food spills and can be tossed in the trash after each use.
An excellent reusable choice is the Bib Clip. Especially convenient for frequent restaurant dining, simply snap in a cloth or paper napkin to protect toddler’s clothing.
Disposable Placemats – If your toddler is self-feeding, these disposable placemats are awesome. We all know that kids don’t keep their food on the plate! To keep mealtime a little neater and more sanitary these peel-and-stick plastic mats are a must.
Comfortable Shoes for Babies
If your baby has only crawled around the carpeted floors at home you might not have even purchased them a first pair of shoes. Generally a pair of socks will keep baby toes warm and dry.
However when away from home consider covering baby’s feet to protect them when traveling in public locations. Choose flexible soles that don’t require a “breaking-in” period.
My children have been wearing pediped brand shoes since before they could walk. The pediped Originals are perfect crib shoes that can transition into walking shoes for a toddler.
Aqua Socks – If your child will be walking on hot sand or on the concrete around a pool, consider slip-resistant water shoes. They are a safe way to protect toddlers from stubbing their toes or burning their feet.
Walking Outside with a Baby
If your travel destination includes a lot of walking you’ll need to be prepared for taking baby along for the ride. Follow these additional tips for walking outside with a baby.
Stroller – The Baby Jogger City Mini has been my favorite for traveling with a baby. It’s all-terrain for both sidewalk or trail walking and offers excellent recline for naps. Best part is that it closes up compactly with one hand, ideal for boarding public transportation or getting into the vehicle trunk.
If you’d prefer not to take your own stroller consider renting one at your destination. Companies like Kingdom Strollers that rent equipment at Walt Disney World are one of the top places to get a stroller while traveling.
READ MORE: Guide to taking toddlers to Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom.
Stroller Fan – When the weather’s hot, keep baby cool using a flexible Travel Fan. Wrap the arms around a stroller, car seat or hold it in your hand to create a breeze wherever you need one.
Muslin Blanket – This lightweight muslin blanket in a variety of colors is multi-versatile. Use it as a blanket, burp cloth, swaddling cloth, nursing coverup or to cover the stroller when the sun is out.
Front Carrier – Best for going where strollers can’t go, the baby front carrier is invaluable. It’s also convenient to use when babies are sleeping and you don’t want to wait until nap time is over. Put the baby in a front carrier and go about with your exploring!
A Front Carrier is also highly convenient in places where you need to be hands-free. Airplane travel and amusement park queues are perfect locations to use a carrier. Plus nursing parents can discretely feed their baby inside of a front carrier!
I also used a front carrier to help soothe my fussy toddler to sleep at hotels. I’d pop her in the carrier then tidy up the room and get things ready for the following day until she was asleep.
Toddler Backpack with Harness – Ideal for the toddler who is always trying to run away! This Skip Hop Toddler Backpack has a leash that can be detached. My daughter enjoyed carrying her sippy cup, plush toy and a snack in her bag. The removable leash allows toddlers to walk independently but not get too far away.
Choosing the Best Diaper Bag for Travel
Before you start packing, make sure that your everyday diaper bag will work for your travel needs. You might want to purchase a day bag that’s better suited for vacationing with a baby.
Figure out first which baby travel essentials you’ll be bringing on your excursions each day. From there you’ll have a better idea which type of diaper bag is best suited to your family’s needs.
Where will you put the bag when you’re not carrying it? If you want to store it under the stroller or in a locker, make sure to measure so it’s not oversized. For airplane travel, ensure that the diaper bag will fit nicely under the seat.
Diaper Bag Tote – For longer days away or lengthy plane trips, this diaper bag tote opens wide into one main compartment. An included shoulder strap is versatile and convenient.
Diaper Backpack – A stylish alternative to the usual diaper bag that either mom or dad would be pleased to carry! This spacious diaper bag backpack houses plenty of storage pockets and space for everything you’ll need on the go.
Stroller Diaper Bag – Ultra convenient stroller caddy diaper bag hangs from the stroller handle for quick access of wipes, diapers and other essentials. A compact style that’s ideal for short trips.
Packing a Travel Diaper Bag
Bottles, baby food, diaper cream and drool bibs! Each evening when you return from outings, empty and refill the diaper bag. Reload the bag with wipes and diapers, clothing changes and baby food. Taking time to restock at night will allow for less stress in the mornings.
Besides what you usually bring for baby in the diaper bag, there are a few other baby travel essentials to consider:
Wet Bag – In the unfortunate event of a diaper blow out or spit up incident you’ll need a place to keep clothing until they can be washed. A reusable wet bag stores messy or damp clothing until you can get to the laundry.
Diaper Changing Pad – Many of the newer diaper bags already have coordinated changing pads included. For getaways where there might be diaper changing tables, purchase disposable diaper changing pads for sanitary purposes.
Stain Stick – When you’re away from the washing machine, use an on-the-go Stain Stick for laundry. Simply rub on spots to prevent stains from happening until you can wash.
Requirements for Safe Travels with Babies
If you have an active toddler there’s sure to be a few bumps and bruises along the way. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to taking care of small injuries or treating pain.
My daughter fell and scraped her elbow at Disney World. With the wet and humid Florida weather the bandages from first aid just wouldn’t stick to her skin. Now I know to pack waterproof band aids in the first aid travel kit!
First Aid Kit – A well stocked first aid kit is essential when traveling with a baby. Include cleansing wipes, antibiotic ointment and plenty of kid-friendly bandages.
Baby Medications – Kids can get sick, even on vacation. Fevers can spike quickly in the middle of the night. Better to have what you need for emergency than rely on the local convenience store or hotel gift shop. Basics like a baby thermometer and Infants’ Tylenol are a must pack.
Safety Kit – Whether you’re staying overnight at a hotel, Airbnb or at grandma’s house, you’ll want to baby-proof the accommodations. This includes protecting exposed electrical outlets, covering sharp corners, securing loose cables and locking up cabinets.
What Else to Pack for Baby?
It can be tempting to want to pack ALL the things when traveling with a baby. Some of what you use at home on a daily basis may not be a baby travel essential. Before you overload the car’s trunk space or suitcase with oversized items, here are some tips.
Find out what’s there already before you pack your own. Check with hotels and Airbnb to find out what baby equipment is available. Verify that the products aren’t recalled.
Check with rental companies at your destination. Places like Cloud of Goods can offer up the rental of items like cribs, booster seats, pack ‘n play, stroller wagons, and high chairs.
In the case of high demand items like your baby’s bouncer seat, you might want to consider bringing it on the road. If the bouncer is the only place your baby will calm, best not to disrupt their pattern any more than usual when traveling.
How often will you use it? If you regularly use a high chair cover at home, consider if it’s worth lugging on your travels. I personally brought a high chair cover with me to Walt Disney World for my baby and used it one time. It wasn’t worth losing the space in my suitcase. But if you think that large item is essential, by all means pack it!
Baby Travel Essentials Packing Checklist
Now that you know what you need to bring when traveling with a baby in diapers, click the link below to print the free baby travel packing checklist!