How to Pack Your Handbag for a Flight With a Baby

A reader asked me what kind of things she should pack in her handbag for the plane when she traveled with her 6-month old baby. I figured she’d need better advice than ‘valium’ so I asked Kaamna from to weigh in with her picks. I’d love to know what you well traveled moms would add to the list so you can help all us newbies have a great flight! – Amy

itemized list of things to pack in your handbag when flying with a baby

Holiday season is just around the corner and whether you’re going on a short flight or a long one, checking into a hotel, or visiting gran, you’ll need to make sure your carry-on is equipped with everything you’ll need for a smooth and successful journey.

When I pack for a trip I think of items in buckets: Food, Entertainment, Survival (FES) for the baby and FES for me. Let’s start with the baby.




If you are nursing, you’re in good shape and need only remember to nurse the baby on take-off and landing to protect their little ears from changes in pressure. If you are not nursing, you’ll need to take your bottles, and perhaps a couple of extra empty ones. Forget about washing or sterilizing on a plane. You can mix your formula on the flight though – most attendants will be willing to provide you with hot water. If your baby is already onto solids, do yourself a favor and pack your own. Whether its jar foods or something you’ve whipped up at home, I guarantee you it will be better than anything the airline will offer your child. A reminder to book a baby/child’s meal as soon as you book your tickets – airlines don’t automatically assign them which has always felt bizarre to me.



Depending on the age of your baby, this could include a variety of things. For babies under the age of 6 months you need a couple of rattles and books. I always preferred bath books to regular ones – they are lighter and easy to clean. For older babies, finger foods and tactile toys are great ways to kill time. Finally, if you’re pro-tech and the kids are 2 years plus, the iPad/tablet will be your best friend.



We’re actually talking about your survival by packing the essentials for your baby. An extra change of clothes, (2 if it’s a long flight), diapers (if you think you’ll need 2, pack 4 – you could accidentally drop one in the toilet – it’s happened), wet wipes, and scent-removal diaper removal bags. If your baby is using a pacifier, don’t forget to pack an extra. I also always recommend packing an extra blanket so you don’t have to use the ones from the plane, which can be rough and dirty. Moreover, flights are cold, so an extra sweater, socks, and a hat is also a good idea.

Now, once you’ve got the baby covered, it’s time to look after your own needs.

mom at airport preparing for flying with baby


Again, depending on the length of your flight and what airline you are flying, it’s probably a good idea to pack a couple of snacks for yourself. Managing a baby is hard work and you need your energy. Make sure also to stay hydrated, especially if you are nursing.



Let’s face it, you don’t get a lot of free time when you travel with a baby but in the unlikely and utopian event that your child becomes self-soothing or self-sufficient and you miraculously have few minutes, bring along one thing that will make you happy during your trip: a music playlist, a diary, a movie, a tv show, a meditation tape, whatever else. If it’s a mindless, guilty pleasure like OK! Magazine, even better!



Always, always carry an extra top or change for yourself.  I’ve been pooped, peed and puked on during my travels and it’s amazing how a clean t-shirt can wash off nasty smells and memories! My survival kit also includes a scarf, a hairbrush and eyeliner so I don’t look like a zombie when I get off the plane, even if I feel like one.

Safe travels mama! You’ve got this!

{Image items (upper left clockwise): Bottle: Mixie Bottles, Toy: Lamaze Clip & Go Mortimer, Hand Sanitizer: Babyganics Hand Sanitizer, Books: Indestructibles Books, Food: wean green cubes, Socks: Cheski Baby Socks, Diapers: disposable diapers, Entertainment: iPad mini, Pacifiers: MAM pacifiers, Snacks: almonds, Handbag: Longchamp Le Pliage Large Shoulder Tote Bag, Water Bottle: S’Well Water Bottle, Brush: Sephora Luxe Combo Travel Brush, Diaper Sacks: Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Bag Dispenser, Shirt: GAP t-shirt, Snack Holder: Boon Snack Ball }

Preparing for a flight with your baby? Here's a list of things you can pack in your handbag or carry on that could help make the trip easier. #flightwithbaby #flyingwithbaby #howtotravelwithababy #newborntravel #tipsandtricksforflyingwithbaby #packingtips #newmomtravel

Preparing for a flight with your baby? Here's a list of things you can pack in your handbag or carry on that could help make the trip easier. #flightwithbaby #flyingwithbaby #howtotravelwithababy #newborntravel #tipsandtricksforflyingwithbaby #packingtips #newmomtravel

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  • Great article, I have travelled with my 17 months old twins only a couple of weeks ago and OMG!!! :)) I can only say that the Entertainment and Food is the most important when travelling with toddlers 😉 By the end of the flight I was completely done and had said: “Never again!!”. But since I already plan another trip in January :), no matter how horrible it might be – don’t worry, you’ll be fine 🙂 xxx

  • For slightly older kids (~1 year) the best travel items are a handful of balloons (to blow up and chase around during a layover, then “gift” to another kid on layover) and blue painters tape. The tape can decorate the fold down table, wall, seats, windows, make a maze for hot wheels, make a horse, bracelet for dad, crown for kid, endless activity. And peels right off.

  • We travel a lot with our little one, and this is great list…the only thing I would add is a diaper cover! We cloth diaper at home but travel with disposables. Murphy’s law says that if a blowout never happens at home, it WILL happen while you are on a plane still climbing to cruising altitude. We always have a PUL diaper cover on our kiddo over her disposables on flights just in case. Its great for protecting your clothes, your baby’s clothes, and your carseat from a possible poo-splosion. I recommend the Flip or Rumparooz covers–they are soft, stretchy, the size adjusts as your kid grows, and they are relatively inexpensive–a great thing for every family who travels a lot to have one of!

  • My children are older now and entertain themselves on a flight, but they have always been good fliers.

    One key thing that helped entertainment on the plane be appealing was to let them get their wiggles out before the flight. I used to find an empty seating area or a children’s room and let them play there until we had to get onboard. A connection may seem like a bad idea with children, but for ours it was an opportunity to break up the flight and move around.

    I would also add that children’s Tylenol might be a good thing to carry. Our two worst flights were when my son was teething and when he had an ear infection. There was nothing I could do to make him comfortable.

  • Thanks for putting this list together! It’s excellent. We’re taking my little one to Hawaii when he is around 7 months, so will definitely be referencing this.

  • I just read that flight attendants never drink tea or coffee on flights because the water quality is so bad. If you need hot water for formula it might be safer to get hot water from whatever is available in the terminal. Definitely makes it trickier for long flights.

  • Military mom here! We’ve moved three times this year so far, and traveled home to see grandma twice. So far my daughter and I have been on 9 separate flights, not including layovers… and she’s not yet a year old.

    Small babies are easy, but my LO taught me right away on that first flight to have spare clothes for the baby and yourself and at least double (I usually go for triple) the number of diapers you think you’ll need! She had FOUR blowouts that first trip, one that required me to also change. Along with the spare clothes, it’s a good idea to have something to store the soiled clothes in so I also pack a small wet bag (a gallon sized ziplock bag would also work).

    If you’re traveling on your own, use a baby carrier!! You’ll need the extra hands for luggage, getting your ID out, taking the baby into the bathroom when you need to pee, etc. We’ve also traveled during one move with a stroller, but the hassle of gate checking it wasn’t appealing after the first time. We also hand carry and gate check her car seat so having two items to tow along wasn’t working.

    It may seem like a germaphobe thing to do, but I also travel w/ a ziplock bag full of lysol wipes. They absolutely don’t have time to wipe down seats, tray tables, etc between flights and I caught one of the nastiest stomach bugs ever once after a flight. Now I’m the weirdo cleaning the whole area when we first sit down. When you’re traveling somewhere the last thing you want is a sick baby.

    We also LOVE those squeezy food pouches for travel. My daughter loves them, she can feed herself relatively mess free, and they’re light & easy to pack. We also try to get a new toy or book to debut on-flight so it’s new and still has the novelty factor going. Although, this has backfired once when I brought a toy that she had ZERO interest in. Luckily she loves books, which don’t take up a lot of space.

    Always go to the gate agent and ask if it’s a full flight. We’ve gotten lucky twice with being able to be seated in a section that wasn’t full and scored a free seat for the baby. I also recommend bulkhead seating if you have a baby on the move and can get those seats. It’s nice to have a little extra crawling space so they don’t get so pent up. And once their mobile, and if you can afford it, spring for the extra seat if you’re flying alone… I know you can take the baby for free until 2 years but sitting next to strangers for several hours while trying to single-handedly wrangle a new crawler or walker isn’t a battle you want to fight unless you absolutely have to.

    Good luck!

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