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Flying With a Baby: The Ultimate Checklist + Tips (Updated for 2023)

Posted by Dianne Chen on
Baby airplane essentials

Flying with a baby is like a guessing game -- you never know when they’re going to poop, puke, or whine like there’s no tomorrow. But you’re a super mom and you know that you can win this game. However, like any other superhero, you need to have a plan of attack -- and the plan is to pack!

Below are some power tips that can surely save you on your trip. Keep reading until the end for a simple (printable) checklist for the essentials you'll need for your next flight with your baby. We know, we know, not all superheros wear capes. 


8 Tips When Flying With a Baby

Let's start with a few tips to get you pumped about your first flight with your kid! These tips will help you pack like a super mom so both you and your baby can survive that long haul flight.

⚠️ COVID-19 Update

The CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel to high-risk destinations, especially when traveling with babies and children. However, if traveling cannot be avoided, you must know and follow the essential airplane rules when flying with a baby. Read more on how to protect yourself and others when you travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Tip #1 - Know the current airline rules for flying with a baby. We summarized it for you below. Be sure to check each airline's website for the full details.

• American Airlines - You will be required to present a birth certificate for children under the age of 18. If you're traveling with children under 2 years old, you can board early at the gate. Also, only 1 carry-on diaper bag per child is allowed.

• Delta - Families traveling with infants and children under 2 years old can travel on the lap of an adult for free (domestic flights only) or buy a ticket and use their own FAA-approved child safety seat on the plane.

• Frontier - Infants seven days old to 2 years old can travel for free on an adult's lap. You will be required to show a birth certificate for age verification.

• Hawaiian Airlines - Children under 2 years old are allowed to travel as lap children or purchase a rear-facing car seat in-flight.

• JetBlue - A child 3 days old to 2 years old can travel as a lap infant. Make sure to bring proof of age such as a birth certificate, passport or immunization record.

• Southwest Airlines - Infants who are 14 days old to 2 years old can travel for free as a lap infant, provided with a boarding verification document to confirm the child's age. You can also purchase a ticket for an FAA-approved car seat.

• Spirit - Child aged 7 days old to 2 years old is considered a lap child and will be able to travel for free, but you can purchase an FAA-approved car seat according to your preference.

• United - Children under the age of 2 can travel on an adult's lap free of charge. If there are two children under the age of 2, only 1 children may travel as a lap child. The other child must have his own ticket.

Lilac Starter Set clear packing cubes

Tip #2 - Start "packing" a few days before travel. Keep a running list of things to take, or put items out on a table or dresser as you think of them during the week.

Tip #3 - Use a backpack as a diaper bag. It's way more convenient than a regular diaper bag and you can use your hands for other important things (AKA holding your baby, pushing the stroller, all mommy stuff).

Tip #4 - Be prepared for leaky diapers and baby spit-up on the airplane: pack an extra outfit or two for your baby (and an extra shirt for you) into your carry-on bag.

Tip #5 - Use clear packing cubes to prevent leaks from medicines and toiletries. 

Tip #6 - Pack each of your baby's outfits in its own Extra Small Cube so you don't have to hunt around for tiny socks, shirts, and so on.

Tip #7 - Take a clip-on reading light so you can read without disturbing your baby.

Tip #8 - Take the phone number for your baby's healthcare provider in case you have questions while you're on the road.

    Baby's First Flight Essentials + Checklist

    Baby's first flight essentials in packing cubes

    **Thanks to Hey It's Jenna for this cute photo!

    A super mom like you will need your trusty 'ol checklist to help you complete your packing mission. Don't worry, we've got all the essentials you need right here. We made sure you know what to bring for you carry-on and checked luggage so check out the complete list below. Enjoy!

    What to Pack in Your Carry-on (When Flying With a Baby)

    Important Documents

    ✔️ Travel Documents - Bring proof of your baby's age like their birth certificate, passport (important when traveling abroad) or immunization record.

    Travel documents for flying with a baby

    ✔️ Consent Form - Important if only one parent is traveling with the kid.

    ✔️ Booking / Reservation Info - Keep digital or printed copies of your hotel booking, flights, transportation info, etc.

    ✔️ Travel Insurance Documents - Some insurance plans cover children aged 17 and under for free when they're traveling with a parent or grandparent. Don't forget to read the fine print!

    ✔️ Other IDs (For Moms / Dads) - Note that TSA has moved the implementation of REAL ID to October 1st, 2021. Read more about it here.

    ✔️ Plane Tickets / Boarding Pass - For adults. Some airlines allow babies up to 2 years old to travel for free as lap infant.

    Baby's Travel Gear

    ✔️ Baby Carrier - Allows you to move freely especially when you have to go up and down staircases or walk on uneven sidewalks.

    ✔️ Bassinet / Travel Cot (for long flights) - Important to call the airline ahead (maybe multiple times) to ensure you are the one receiving the cot. There are usually only 2-3 available on board, so act quickly!

    ✔️ Collapsible Stroller - Can be gate-checked or stored in the overhead bin (if it fits) of an airplane.

    ✔️ Car Seat - Most airlines will let you gate check this for free. You can also arrange to rent one at your destination. if you've bought a seat for your baby, it's best to bring the car seat on board.

    ✔️ Portable Changing Pad - Makes it convenient to change a baby's diaper anytime, anywhere!

    Baby's Clothes

    Baby clothes packing checklist for travel

    ✔️ 2 Long-Sleeved Footed Pajamas - Pack the most comfortable and lightweight ones to keep your baby cozy during the flight.

    ✔️ 2 Onesies - Comfy change of clothes when your baby makes a mess when eating, also easier to wash and dry.

    ✔️ A Few Muslin Burp Cloths - Lots of uses! For burping a small baby, wiping drool, etc.

    ✔️ 1-2 Pairs of Socks - Paired with the onesies to keep baby's feet warm.

    ✔️ 1-2 Pairs of Shoes - Pack those cute ones that match with their outfits.

    Pro Tip: Don't forget to pack a change of clothes for you and your hubby! You're an easy target for vomit, poop and other not-so-fun baby accidents.

    Nursing and Feeding

    Foods flying with baby checklist

    ✔️ Feeding Bottles - Pack 2 to 3 bottles from your trusted brands and you'll be just fine.

    Pro Tip: Bring a separate, prepared bottle at home before your flight. Makes the security process a little bit easier for your little one.

    ✔️ Breast Milk or Formula - Both of these are exempt from the TSA’s 3-ounce limit. Just be prepared and separate them for some additional TSA screening.

    Pro Tip: It's easier to bring dry, powder formula than liquid formula. Assemble each bottle with the right amount of powder formula (pre-portioned) so that all you have to do is add water. You can purchase bottled water once you're at the airport.

    ✔️ Baby Food (Canned / Jarred / Squeeze Pouch) - These items may be subject to additional TSA screening.

    ✔️ Treats - For when you need to bribe them into finishing their milk or taking their vitamins, bring some sweet treats like lollipops, Oreos, etc. as a reward.

    ✔️ Snacks - Have your little one munch on some dried fruits, cheese, Cheerios, and other snack goodies during the flight to keep them from being hangry. Pack them in their own clear cube for easy access.

    Baby snacks for flight in a medium cube

    ✔️ Nursing Cover - For a little privacy when you're nursing your little one especially in public spaces.

    ✔️ Insulated Cooler Bag with Ice Packs - If you're bringing liquid formula. Opt for a travel size one to keep baby bottles warm or cold. Make sure that the ice packs are completely frozen or else the will not be permitted by TSA. Read more about it here.

    ✔️ Travel Size Formula Dispenser - So you won't have to bring the entire pack.

    ✔️ Insulated Travel Bottle - Great for warming bottles or for having warm water ready for mixing formula.

    Pro Tip: You can also bring a plastic container and ask the flight attendant to fill it with hot water on the flight. Then dip the baby's bottle (with its cap sealed on) in the container with hot water to warm it.

    Shop clear packing cubes for flying with baby on Amazon

    ✔️ Washable Bib - Waterproof ones are easier to clean, wipe and use over and over again. Plus, takes the trouble out of washing and waiting for it to dry.

    ✔️ Travel Feeding Spoon and Dishes - Opt for those soft, food-grade silicone-coated ones so baby can enjoy every meal.

    ✔️ Pacifier & Bottle Wipes - For cleaning bottles, pacifiers, teethers, cups, and toys on the go.

    Pro Tip: Feeding / nursing during take off and landing is a MUST! It will help your baby cope with the pressure changes and makes for a more peaceful flight for you, your baby and your fellow passengers.

    ✔️ Feeding Pillow - Not necessary but nice to have especially for breastfeeding mamas

    ✔️ Disposable Bottle Liners & Extra Teats - Very convenient when you don't have the time or products to wash your baby's bottles.

    Other Diaper Bag Essentials

    Diaper bag flying with baby checklist

    ✔️ Diapers - Bring at least 1 for every hour of the flight.

    ✔️ Hygiene Kit - Very important! Pack travel size alcohol (make sure it's not more than 3.4 ounces) and antibacterial wipes for sanitizing handles and surfaces before touching them. The TSA currently allows 12 ounce of hand sanitizer container on your carry-on luggage (for now) so you better take advantage of that to keep you and your baby safe. Keep your Hygiene Kit in your personal bag so you can easily pull it out whenever needed.

    ✔️ Sanitizing Wipes - For wiping down everything you and your baby gets in contact with.

    ✔️ Diaper Trash Bag - For keeping dirty diapers when there's no trash cans around.

    ✔️ Sunscreen - A must! Pack a travel size one.

    ✔️ Baby Shampoo & Body Wash - Kept in travel size containers if they're liquid. Make sure they follow TSA's 3-1-1 Liquids Rule.

    ✔️ Brush or Comb - With soft bristles!

    Baby's First Aid Kit

    First aid kit flying with baby checklist

    ✔️ Fever / Pain Reliever - Acetaminophen is safe and effective as a fever reducer for babies under 6 months old.

    ✔️ Antihistamine - Don't give your baby Benadryl or another antihistamine unless your pediatrician recommends it.

    ✔️ Cold / Cough Meds - When your little one gets sneezy during the flight

    ✔️ Digital Thermometer - To check the baby's temperature

    ✔️ Teething Gel - To soothe baby's teething pains

    Play & Sleep

    Kids' Toys for travel in Clear Cubes

    ✔️ 'Quiet' Toys - Pack the smaller ones inside an extra small cube to keep them entertained during the trip. Guard this with your life!

    ✔️ Pacifiers - Pack a few extras just in case

    ✔️ Favorite Blankie - To have that "at home" feel so your baby can sleep comfortably. Make sure not to leave this behind!


    Must Haves when flying with a baby

    **Thanks to Xo Livi for this photo!

    ✔️ A Bribe Bag (for your fellow passengers) - Optional, but a cute idea to make yourself (and the poor people trying to sleep) a little happier.  

    ✔️ Diaper Storage Bag - You can use this clear cube to keep your diapers organized for the trip.

    ✔️ Pacifier Clip - Secures baby's pacifier in place.

    ✔️ Nasal Aspirator and Saline Solution - To clear baby's stuffy nose.

    What to Pack in Your Checked Luggage

    Baby's Travel Gear

    Baby's Stroller with a large cube
    **Thanks Xo Livi for this photo!

    ✔️ Travel Crib - Provides comfort and makes sleeping relaxing for your baby even in an unfamiliar environment.

    ✔️ Inflatable Baby Bathtub
    - Or just use the hotel sink (super easy and you save some space in your suitcase). 

    ✔️ Portable High Chair - This one's made of fabric so it's super lightweight and convenient for on the go.

    ✔️ White Noise Machine - These magical thing can help your baby fall asleep fast and longer by producing calming sounds or white noise like a buzz or hum.

    ✔️ Travel Potty - Best for babies when they gotta go while you're on-the-go.

    Baby's Clothes

    Baby clothes for flying in an airplane

    ✔️ 4-7 Pairs of Pants & Leggings - Perfect when traveling during the colder months.

    ✔️ 4-7 Shirts / Onesies - Add extra pairs when traveling in winter.

    ✔️ 2-3 Dresses or Rompers - An outfit in itself so you won't have trouble mixing and matching attires.

    ✔️ 4-7 Pairs of Socks - Must have, 'nuff said!

    ✔️ 2-3 Pairs of Boots or Shoes - Pack a few pairs that match with all their baby outfits.

    ✔️ Hat - Throw in a sun hat or a fuzzy hat depending on the season.

    ✔️ Swimsuit - Optional but best to pack a swimsuit or two just in case.

    ✔️ 3-5 Sets of Pajamas - Make sure they look cute enough to be worn for breakfast. 

    Nursing & Feeding

    ✔️ Drying Rack - A traveling rack is very handy; you'll thank us when you need it.

    ✔️ Dish Soap
    - Pack a travel size one for washing bottles.

    ✔️ Breast Pump & Supplies
    - Pack in a few pieces and extra parts, including cleaning solutions to make pumping and storing milk easier on-the-go.

    ✔️ Spill-Proof Snack Cups
    - You'll need a spill-proof snack container for your little one to make it easier to access food and snacks when they get hungry.

    ✔️ Sippy Cup
    - Opt for those leak-proof ones to avoid spills while traveling.

    Toiletries & Hygiene

    Diapers and other essentials for baby when flying on a plane

    ✔️ Diapers - Bring diapers that will last you for your first few days in your destination. Then buy the rest when you get there.

    ✔️ Diaper Cream - To avoid rashes on baby's bum

    ✔️ Mosquito Repellent - For when you're traveling to warmer or tropical places.

    ✔️ Antibacterial Wipes -
    Wipe down everything before letting the baby touch it.

    ✔️ Hand Sanitizer
    - Mostly for mom, but sanitize baby's hands from time to time. They tend to put their hands on their mouth so make sure they're clean.

    ✔️ Lotion
    - To keep skin moisturized

    ✔️ Baby Liquid Bath or Soap - Pack one that's gentle on baby's skin, preferably a brand recommended by your pediatrician.

    ✔️ Baby Shampoo - One with tear-free formula is always best for keeping your little one's eyes safe

    ✔️ Soft Baby Brush / Comb - Great for detangling baby's wet hair

    Baby's First Aid Kit

    Baby's First Aid Kit in an extra small cube

    ✔️ Prescription Medicines - For personal baby health needs.

    ✔️ Diaper Rash Cream - To protect baby's skin from redness and irritation.

    ✔️ Infant Pain Reliever - To reduce fever and minor aches.

    ✔️ Bandages / Band Aids - Say goodbye to that boo-boo in a fun way with ones that have cartoon designs on them.

    ✔️ Small Digital Thermometer - To keep baby's temperature in check.

    ✔️ Nail Clipper - So you can trim pesky hang nails from those little fingers

    ✔️ Oral Rehydration Powder - Helps replenish lost fluids to prevent dehydration.

    Play & Sleep

    ✔️ Play Mat - Pack on top of your things before zipping the suitcase close. Best when staying in hotels or Airbnbs with hardwood floors.

    ✔️ Portable Crib Sheet
    - For additional comfort when baby's sleeping in the crib.

    ✔️ Baby Shusher
    - It's a machine that hums or lulls your baby to sleep with a calming shush so you can focus on other mom things. It's a bit pricey but definitely a worthy investment!

    ✔️ Blankets
    - 1 small one for wrapping baby & 1 big one to place on the airport floor so baby can play.

    Other Must Haves (Depending on Your Trip)

    ✔️ Pacifier / Dummy

    Baby's essentials in an Extra small cube

    ✔️ Small Clear Packing Cubes - For baby's clothes, shoes, toys, etc.

    ✔️ Snacks / Baby Food
    - In squeeze pouches

    ✔️ Rain and Cold-Weather Gear
    - If applicable

    ✔️ Sunscreen and Sunhat
    - To protect your little ones from too much sun exposure

    ✔️ Baby Sunglasses
    - To shield your baby's eyes from strong UV rays

    ✔️ Travel Laundry Bag - Perfect for keeping dirty clothes away from the clean ones.

    ✔️ Safety Devices - Like outdoor plugs, door knob covers, toilet locks, etc. For keeping crawling babies or young toddlers safe.

    ✔️ Tablet & Headphones - Download your baby's favorite nursery rhymes or cartoons to keep them entertained.

    ✔️ Life Vest - To keep baby safe for swimming time!

    ✔️ Floaties - To keep your baby safe and floating while having fun in the water.

    The Secret for a Smooth Flight With Your Little One

    If it’s your first time using packing cubes, you may wonder why these bags are such a hit! Firstly, they provide an easy organizing system you don’t need to think twice about. Secondly, they are clear! You can see what's inside and know exactly which cube you are reaching for. 

     Use an Extra Small Cube to organize essentials like pacifiers, bibs, or mittens. Plus, it's TSA Approved! So it's perfect for packing travel size toiletries, hygiene kit, and other fun size items.

     Use a Small Cube to carry flight essentials including your passport, plane tickets, or valid IDs. Also a perfect size for the baby's clothes, shoes and toys.

     Use a Medium Cube to keep your outfits for the trip. 

     Use a Large Cube for towels / sweaters / bulkier items. 

    You’ll never know how amazing these cubes are until you use them, especially when you’re carrying one suitcase for two people. Use different colored cubes to sort items for each person and voila! Works like magic.

    Flying with baby checklist

    Although these tips will surely save you time and sanity, it’s always best to add your own personality to the packing list. Find an organizing system that works best for you and use it whenever you travel. Pretty soon, traveling with the little ones will be a piece of cake! Okay, maybe not that easy. But you still got this!

    P.S. Need more flying tips? Click here for the best tricks and hacks for airplane travel.

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