Baby's First Flight: Airplane Essentials


What should you carry on for your baby's first flight?
Get the diaper bag low down below, as well as my printable checklist. 



When Thomas was seven weeks old, we flew to San Francisco for a west coast escape from the Texas summer heat. I got to the airport looking like a hitch hiker, weighed down by a diaper bag loaded with clothes, toys and distractions—solutions for every possible negative scenario. As it turned out, he latched on to the boob during takeoff and slept the whole flight. The only thing I needed was the one thing I forgot: a book, for myself.

Yes, you need more things than you realize, but if your baby is under a year, you don't need a playroom's worth of toys. Below, I’ve put together a minimalist-minded packing list for your first flight with a baby. And guess what? You download the spiffy packing checklist below.


The Baby’s ID If you’re traveling internationally, your child needs a passport. If your baby (under 2) is traveling as a lap child in the U.S., you’ll need his passport, birth certificate, or vaccination card as proof of age.

Diapers How many? You know your baby’s bowels, but I bring six. That should cover you for a blowout or two and any major delays.

Baby wipes

A changing pad

Diaper cream

A bottle or boobs

Breast milk or formula Save space by bringing the formula in a sandwich bag, with a scooper. For breast milk, store it in bags and transport it in a small, insulated pack.

Dish soap A small bottle of dish soap is incredibly useful if you need to rinse a bottle on the go. On the airplane, be sure to use filling station or bottled/canned water—not the plane bathroom sink’s water—when washing out a bottle. I also bring dish soap for hotel stays.

Two changes of clothes for the baby I’ve only made it through one plane ride where my baby didn’t need a complete change of clothes. On three occasions, I’ve had to change my kiddos twice.

A change of clothes for you A shirt at least: shit happens. Literally.

A beanie and a piece of outerwear (a jacket or sweater)

Two burp cloths

Two pacifiers (if your baby uses them) and two teethers (if your baby is teething) that can clip onto clothing. 

Travel-size tissues

3 plastic grocery bags You'll use these for everything from tossing dirty diapers to collecting trash around your seat to storing soiled clothes. 

Saline Drops, Gas Relief Drops, and a fever reducer

Any additional medications

A thin swaddle Throw this over your shoulder for breastfeeding or wrap the baby up to stay warm.

Sanitary wipes I’m in the “germs are good for you” camp, but you don’t want to start a trip by getting a cold. Traveling alone or with kids, I wipe down my seat, tray tables, widows, AC knobs and call buttons, and arm rests when I get on a plane. I repeat this process in the airplane bathroom, especially when changing a baby.

Hand sanitizer

Food packets (4 months+) If your baby is eating purees, bring a few packets of food. You can buy ready-made ones at the store, or make your own (and use less plastic) and store them in these.


A second bottle

Finger puppets and a few board books

Bribery packs A few baggies with earplugs and a friendly note for your neighbors

A Wash-It-Later bag

A book or magazine yes, for you! Your baby might just fall asleep.

How was your baby's first flight? Tell us your (insert: "success" or "Horror") stories below.