Must-have items for traveling with baby and baby travel essentials worth buying. What do you really need for traveling with a baby? Expert guide to baby travel gear by a mom of two who to loves travel – Updated Nov. 2019
The other day I was chatting with a friend of mine who recently had a gorgeous new baby.
She is an expat and was telling me about her plans to fly with her baby to introduce the new arrival to the extended family.
She was looking forward to it but also had all the doubts and fears that the first trip with a baby stirs up in pretty much any new parent.
What baby travel gear would she need? What are the baby travel must-haves to add to a sensible baby travel packing list?
This post is my reply to her, based on my experience as a traveling mama who got her first flight with her baby when he was only 6 weeks old!
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What to look for when choosing baby travel essentials
I believe the best items for traveling with an infant are often those you already use at home and you and your baby are familiar with.
Just make sure they have some important characteristics. The best travel accessories for babies meet the following criteria:
Nothing kills the joy of travel more quickly than lugging around too much stuff.
You want your baby gear to work hard for you so you can use it in many different situations.
Pick one good item you can use over and over again. The perfect example? A good stroller!
Get a good travel stroller and you can use both at home and when traveling.
Comfort for both you and your baby.
Especially when it comes to babywearing items and carriers, pick one that feels right for your body.
Read reviews carefully, pick some that are excellent, some that are terrible and some in-between: when it comes to must-have items for traveling with baby, that little extra step of reading the reviews will go a long way to ensure the item is right for YOU.
Easy to clean materials
Laundry is a huge part of parenthood so baby travel items that can be easily thrown in the wash without extra effort are always a good idea.
Pay particular attention to the materials and check if you can wipe-clean or it needs a full wash – in that case, think of your style of travel and if washing on the go is an option.
This has nothing to do with the gender of your kids but with your partner!
I fell in love with a baby carrier in a gorgeous shade of hot pink but just before buying I realized my husband wouldn’t be seen dead wearing it.
I switched to a neutral (and beautiful) green color and suddenly we were able to share baby-carrying duties.
Bay travel gear wouldn’t make my list of essentials unless I could count on it to be sturdy and have a long life.
Travel can put a strain on gear: select things that will last heavy use as anything flimsy is likely to leave you stranded
Baby travel essentials for moving and flying with a baby
I am fond of baby carriers for travel.
They are excellent for city exploring and hikes in nature they tend to fold pretty small, meaning you can carry them with your easily without too much effort.
I find them very handy to use even in airports when being hands-free is a definite plus although do bear in mind that when passing security you will have to get your baby out.
I recommend soft structured carriers over wrap around sling as they are easy to remove/wear at airport security/museum entrances etc.
Baby Bjorn carrier, original: perfect for young babies and small children.
- Pros: Easy to buckle and unbuckle,
- Spread the weight evenly across your shoulder and back creating no strain
- Hugs baby snugly
- The gender-neutral design makes them good for sharing with dads too
- Suitable from birth to 11kg according to manufacturer’s instructions
- Cons: none, except the need to change carriers once the weight limit is reached
BEST FOR infant and young babies
This was an excellent purchase of us and opens my list of baby travel essentials I recommend.
Ergo baby organic baby carrier. One of our best purchases to date, an excellent carrier that we used with our youngest and then gave on loan to two friends.
Three kids later, it is still going strong!
BEST FOR Toddlers (if using with babies and very young kids, it is advisable to buy the baby insert)
For hikes and older children, we are fond of the Deuter Kid Comfort baby carrier, which you can see in use by Little Ms. E in this photo.
It sits comfortably on the parent’s shoulders and we found it particularly good for hikes and outdoor activities with older babies and toddlers.
Top tip: When choosing a travel baby product, make sure it is fit for purpose.
When selecting a back carrier for hiking, for instance, make sure they are built for the outdoors: some city-carriers look the same as sports one but do not offer the same level of comfort
A traveling stroller for babies and toddlers
I don’t believe it is necessary to purchase a stroller specifically for travel, but there is no doubt that some pushchairs are better than others when it comes to lugging them onto a plane.
Here you can read our guide to the best travel stroller, handy to compare different options.
In our experience, these are the best travel strollers:
Maclaren Quest / Maclaren Triumph: great all-around umbrella strollers, they even fare well even on Europe’ notoriously cobbled streets
Babyzen Yoyo, useful for air travels as it fits in the overhead bin (small wheels however can make it hard on bumpy terrains)
Phil & Teds double stroller, big but with excellent tired and generous space for children and your belongings
What I loved about these is that they were sturdy and suitable for older toddlers too.
I find many light strollers too hard to push with a toddler on. A sturdy, solid frame makes for a better experience and protects your back from strain.
If you already have a pushchair and are wondering whether it is good for travel, I recommend you look at how easy it is to fold, how much it can recline and how much storage space it offers.
Be aware than when passing security in airports you will have to empty the stroller and fold it so easy manoeuvering is essential
Must have item for road tripping with baby: car seat
A good and safe car seat is among the very first things you need when buying for baby and this applies as much when traveling, both nationally and internationally.
For babies and young toddlers, the best car seat is probably the one you already have.
If your baby has a favorite toy or cuddly friend to sleep with, make sure you bring it on travels.
It will be invaluable to give them a sense of comfort in unfamiliar surroundings.
Teething toys will also be invaluable when flying both for mouth/ear comfort and entertainment
A good changing kit / traveling diaper bag
A good changing bag (or diaper bags as they are also called) can make all the difference when traveling with an infant or toddler.
The best ones work double duty both as baby bag and your own day bag, minimizing the amount of bulk you need to carry.
My favorite diaper bags for travel are here). If you are not keen on one, you can also consider compact changing kits that allow easy access to essentials such as changing mat, nappies, wipes and muslin cloths.
If you can count on dad to most of the carrying, you may want to look at baby bags that stylish dads won’t be embarrassed to carry such as these diaper backpacks here
Baby travel must-have for: eating out
A portable high chair
I am very fond of travel high chairs, especially the foldable ones that occupy virtually no space and can be attached to almost any sort of chair.
They make a huge difference to how hard or easy mealtimes are once your baby has transitions to eating solids.
Many restaurants are welcoming to kids but not equipped with seats for them and a travel high chair means your choice of establishments widens significantly.
Some come with a handy pouch where you can store bibs, baby cutlery, and plates too.
A portable sterilizer
If you are still in the sterilizing phase, you may also find handy to look at portable sterilizers: we have always been using the Avent products and found them to be excellent albeit a bit bulky for traveling.
They occupy next to no space and they are a lifesaver when eating on the go or on planes or train.
They probably already are in your diaper bag so make sure you don’t take them out when packing for travel: you will use them extensively!
Wet wipes (for skin and surfaces)
For eating on the go but also for cleaning plane seats, plane trays and changing station, a packet of wet wipes for cleaning surfaces and a different one for skin are priceless for staying tidy on the go
Baby travel essentials for peaceful nights
A travel cot or bassinets for sleeping on travels
One of the best presents we were given, as new parents, was a travel cot.
Travel cots / travel cribs come in all shape and sizes and depending on the type you choose they can also double up as a baby playpen.
This is something extremely useful especially in unfamiliar surroundings when you may need to enforce some ‘containment’ strategies while you secure your room or vacation rental.
We are particularly fond of full-size travel cots (like the one in the photo) but I heard many parents happy with traveling bassinets and toddler beds too, handy solutions if traveling with more than one small child.
Portable black-out blinds for bright rooms
Travel, with or without jet lag thrown in the mix, can disrupt children sleeping patterns. to help them settle, we found portable black our blinds invaluable
For darkness, we found an excellent solution in with the portable gro-bag blackout blinds.
They fold easily and attach to any window thanks to easy to use suction cups: perfect to make a room dark for a nap or to help reset the body clock
A baby monitor is an easy to carry item we used in vacation rentals, when not sharing a room with your baby and to play soothing music to them. Bring the one you already have at home so the music is familiar.
White noise machine
Noise machines are small objects, operated by battery or plugin,producing white noise, a soothing sound particularly beloved by babies and infants.
The theory is the noise reminds them of the type of sound they heard while in utero and indeed, noise machines did work for our kids!
The one we had comes inside a plush teddy bear and was activated by movement.
You would put it beside the in the crib and any time they made even a small movement and kicked it, the noise would start, helping our child settle back
A sleeping bag
Baby sleeping bags can help to keep baby safe and warm in bed and can come really handy on planes when you can wrap your baby in it without worrying the blanket will fall or catch in the cabin confined space.
Portable mosquito net
This only applies to some destinations but I always mention a mosquito net as a must-have item for traveling with baby as it has come in handy for us on very many occasions.
They are perfect for mosquitoes of course but also if the baby is napping outdoors and you want to protect them from noisy flies and other insects that may bother them while snoozing.
Hotel baby proofing items
As baby-friendly as accommodation can be, it can be wise to take baby proofing into your own hands.
Baby proofing kits are easy to carry and make a world of difference to make a hotel room or rental baby and toddler-friendly.
Other baby travel essentials and luggage
This is not something to pack but something to help you packing: I love packing cubes and find them excellent to organize my luggage.
When traveling with a baby, they are also an excellent and easy way to separate clean and dirty clothes.
These go hand in hand with the packing cube advice above: small, cheap and often pretty, wet bags occupy little to no space and come in super handy when laundry needs to wait!
Considering all the gear and bits that you need when traveling with kids, choosing the right luggage and travel bag is a priority.
We are light packers and are exceptionally fond of the following items:
- Osprey travel backpack (for me)
- Lowe Alpine travel backpack for my husband
- Trunki ride-on suitcase for kids (see my full trunki review here) and
- Deuter Kikki Backpack for the kids which started using as soon as age allowed.
What we love about the travel backpacks is that you carry them like a standard backpack but open up as a traditional bag, rather than vertically.
This means you don’t have to fish out from the bottom of the rucksack what you need.
Also, the backpacks we have chosen are carry on size, allowing for faster check-in and arrival airport procedures
I hope you find this list of baby travel essentials useful and it will act as a handy buying guide for you.
If you are already in packing mode, I also prepared a full list of what you may need on travel: it’s a pdf and if you click on it, you should be able to print it out and tick items as you go.
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