Traveling with a Toddler – Part 1: What to Pack in your Diaper Bag

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Traveling with a Toddler is difficult. I learned a lot from my recent travel to South America with my 18 month old daughter. I’m compiling it into a few blog posts. This first post addresses what to pack in your diaper bag. Unfortunately, I was traveling alone with my toddler, so this post assumes you don’t have a partner to help you.

**This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

If you travel with a lap infant (a kid under 2yo), you get to bring a diaper bag in addition to your two carry-ons. I had to bring my work bag as my carry-on and my breast pump bag as my personal item, so what I packed in the diaper bag was of critical importance! Based on my trip, here are my Top 10 recommendations for what to pack in your diaper bag:

1. Diapers

How many diapers, though? I brought a lot more diapers than I anticipated I would need, and I’m glad. The total travel time (with check-in) was more than 15 hours. I packed 4 diapers in my diaper bag, plus another 5 diapers in my carry-on (just in case). I would highly recommend bringing back up diapers in the event of a blow out (and just because it’s nice to keep the baby fresh on the plane… for your sake and others).

2. Wipes

I usually carry a travel pouch with a small amount of wipes in my diaper bag. For this trip, I just brought an entire pack of Water Wipes with me, and (again) I kept another travel-sized pack in my carry-on.

3. Changing pad

These usually come with the diaper bag. This keeps your baby from getting messy. It also keeps your baby from making a mess on the airplane bathroom changing table, which doesn’t get cleaned very often.

4. Snacks

Lots and lots of snacks are necessary. Figure out what your toddler likes, and pack a bunch of that! For my 18 month old, I like to bring snack bars, cookies, and puffs like these:

5. Travel Toiletries

The basics for airplane travel include: baby tylenol, baby motrin, tooth wipes, saline drops, diaper cream, hand sanitizer, and mommy’s toiletries (up to you). Tooth wipes save space, and they are easier to pull out of your bag. You also don’t have to worry about rinsing off (or losing) a baby toothbrush. The saline drops are great for keeping baby’s nostrils from getting dry and cracked (which can allow germs in). You can also squirt a little breast milk into baby’s nostrils if you’re still breastfeeding. As for hand sanitizer, there are a million disgusting things you and your baby probably will touch at the airport and on the plane. Plus, people on the plane are always sick, so you can never be too careful.

*I keep the baby’s non-essential toiletries (baby shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, sunscreen, etc.) in my carry-on.

6. Books

Thus far, my daughter really hasn’t taken to “screen time.” So, we distract her with books. For such a long plane ride, we figured it made sense to bring her four favorite books that we read every night before bed. Right now, that means: Potty, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and a couple books from this Sesame Street Set. Make sure they are board books because they’ll take quite a beating.

7. Stuffed Animals/Lovey

My daughter doesn’t love her lovey so much anymore. However, she has taken to her Elmo doll and this stuffed dog. So, they came along for the ride.

8. Pacifiers

Yes, she is still using them. It’s not as frequent, but because we’ve got all four canines coming in, they are a must. We like to use rubber pacifiers for 12 months+ because they are purportedly orthodontic. They were a huge help, especially for napping.

9. Poop Bags

These are not just for dogs! You are expected to put ALL dirty diapers (including pee pee diapers) into an airline sickness bag before disposing of them. However, you only get one airline sickness bag per seat. Truth be told, they really do nothing about the smell, so I like to bring a bunch of these baggies as a courtesy to others using the airplane bathroom.

10. Change of Clothes/Pajamas

You definitely want to bring a change of clothes for the baby. If you are on a long flight, and you have a poopsplosion, you will thank me. Put the poopy clothes into a baggy from #9 above. Then, change the baby into a fresh outfit. Make sure it’s warm and easy to remove. I used a nice Adidas track suit, and it worked out perfectly. Also, if you are traveling overnight, you will want to bring baby’s pajamas in an effort to make things as close as possible to the bedtime routine.

Other Important Items

Some other things that I packed in my diaper bag that I found very helpful, but not necessarily essential include: a sippy cup, a bib, crayons, and travel utensils.

What Do You Think?

So, there you have it. You’ve now got my Top 10 list of essential items to take in your diaper bag on the airplane with you and your lap infant. Let me know how this list worked out for you. Please also comment if there is something you could not have lived without on a long flight with your lap infant.

pack diaper bag airplane travel toddler


10 thoughts on “Traveling with a Toddler – Part 1: What to Pack in your Diaper Bag

  • May 30, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Thankfully, I’ve never had a need (or desire) to take my tots on an airplane. However, this is really useful information! I wouldn’t have known I could take another bag for them!

    • May 31, 2017 at 6:20 pm

      Yes, it was certainly an experience. Had my husband been able to join us on the flight, he could have lightened my load quite a bit. However, I learned quite a bit while traveling alone.

  • May 31, 2017 at 2:11 am

    I LOVE that you included books on your list. They might be heavy, but we never leave the house without books on the diaper bag.

    • May 31, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      Thanks, Bethany! I’ve heard a lot of parents go for screen time. While I’m not against it, it just doesn’t work for us the way books do (thank goodness)!

  • May 31, 2017 at 11:17 am

    Poop bags. Lots of poop bags! Hah good list!

  • May 31, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    I love putting together a diaper kit, because it’s so hard to remember everything when you’re trying to get the kids out the door. Great tips!

  • June 2, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    Great list of must haves! I always take a ton of food too…and a surprise gift to “open” if it is a long trip!

  • Pingback: Traveling with a Toddler - Part 2: How to Maneuver the Airport - The Momproviser

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