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Flying with Toddlers & Babies and What to Pack in Their Carry-on

By Savvy Diva

Here are some tips I’ve learned about flying with children:

  • Make them their own carry-on bag. This makes it easy to find things and will make older ones feel special. Include several diapers and wipes, un-crushable snacks like granola bars or fruit snacks, empty bottle or sippy cup, an extra shirt or onesie (bring an extra shirt for YOU in your carry-on), entertainment like a toy, book, or game (don’t forget the earphones & fresh batteries), and a pack of tissues. If your child requires any medication, make sure you put that in your carry-on.
  • Be selective when choosing what entertainment to bring for your child. Don’t bring anything with small parts, or even with a lot of parts. Have the mindset of whatever you are bringing you will have to retrieve from under the seats. A stuffed animal would be easier than a Lego. You can also read to your child or play games using the magazines in the seat pocket, like I Spy in the SkyMall catalog. Kids will love just looking out the window too. Don’t bring anything that makes noise!
  • I recommend bringing a bottle, sippy cup, or kid’s thermos with you. No liquids before going through security though! Most airports have places you can buy beverages after security, and you can always get water on the plane. The reason I recommend this so much is that drinking will help their ears adjust to the air pressure during take-off and landing, just like some adults chew gum or yawn.
  • I like to make travel packets for my kids. I take an inexpensive folder and put in things like fact sheets on where we’re going (they might accidentally learn something), custom word find puzzles that have family member’s names or things we’re going to do (find free generators online), and trivia questions (like What color are Mickey’s shoes? or What’s the name of the cat in Cinderella?). Cheap and easy!
  • If you can, schedule your flight during nap time or bed time. Sleeping babies are quiet babies!
  • If your child is under two, you will need their birth certificate to travel. Check with the airline for specifics.
  • Dress your kid in layers. In my experience planes are always cold. If you have an overnight flight, let them wear their pajamas.
  • Ask for a pillow and blanket. It makes the ride more comfortable for you and your kid by covering those metal armrests or elevating your arm while you nurse or cuddle. They could get so comfortable they fall asleep and take a nap!
  • Gate-check your stroller. That way you can use it all the way up to boarding, and they will bring it to you as soon as you get off the plane. Instead of buying an expensive stroller bag, use the carry bag from a large collapsible camp chair to gate check your little umbrella stroller. It’s made of heavy duty material and has a carry strap! Make sure the stroller fits before you leave the house.
  • Whenever possible, arrive at the airport a little early. This will ensure you don’t have to rush and it will also give your child time to burn off some energy before the flight. I like flying in the early morning so there is almost always space for my toddler to run circles.
  • On longer flights, when it’s safe to do so, walk up and down the aisle with your child. They can stretch their legs and get a change of scenery. Make sure to hold both their hands so they don’t bother the other passengers.
  • Above all, remain calm and relaxed. If you stress out, your child will too.

Have a great flight!

Savvy Diva is a huge fan of Walt Disney World & the Disney Cruise Line, and she's all about saving money and making vacations stress-free. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband and son.