February 1, 2008

Packing List for Baby On Board the Plane

I am absolutely convinced that you shouldn't over pack your carry-on when traveling on a plane with a baby / infant. There are so many things you can survive without, but you will collapse if you are carrying 50 lbs (22kg) of gear and a baby all day. (Check out my horror story post about traveling for 20 hours while holding my baby. ) So lay out your gear- and take out the extras, and remember that almost anywhere you go, you can get the essentials. (In a spacey moment I forgot diapers once when traveling 8 hours on two flights- I bought diapers at the newsstand at the airport that were for 30 lb babies, and mine was 10lb., but it was no big deal- you will survive!)

So here is my packing list of things to carry on board when you take a baby on the plane.

_DIAPERS & DIAPER PAD & WIPES- I read somewhere to pack 1-2 for every hour, which I thought was crazy- do you change your baby 12 times in 6 hours at home? Pack what you use in same amount of time at home and then add 2 more. If you found yourself in a total BM meltdown there are plenty of mothers that would be happy to help, I sure would. WIPES are great for cleaning plenty of things but if you do run out, you can use napkins, etc., so don't over do it.

_BLANKET- I also saw a list that said pack "plenty of blankets", again too much. Pack one mid-range blanket and then throw a beanie in your bag. 90% of our heat is lost through our head. If it happens to be very cold, you can put the beanie on the baby and the flight attendents can also give you a blanket. I wrap our daughter in my sling. You are often holding them so the body heat alone is usually plenty.

_PLASTIC BAGS- Compartmentalize everything into plastic bags to stay organized and then if you need bags for an emergency they are right there.

_PACIFIER- Take three, the one attached to the baby, the one that is handy and the secret one- because if you lose them all (and sometimes on the plane they aren't gone, just hard to reach three rows up) you may be in big trouble.

_SMALL HAND TOYS- I clip them all together with those colorful clips. Another reader suggested using diaper pins to attach them to the blanket. And my favorite idea, bring a few new ones that will keep them entertained- love the diversion tactics.

_ONE EXTRA OUTFIT, A SLEEPER- Put one sleeper with feet in a plastic bag. Save yourself from having to carry an extra shirt, pants, socks, shoes, sweater, etc. There is a good chance you won't even need it so save yourself the bulk.

_FOOD, UTENSIL, BIB, SNACKS- Try to bring FOOD that can be eaten out of a jar or by hand so you don't also need to carry plates and bowls. Bring ONE SPOON because if you need another you can wash it, or there are usually small coffee spoons that also do the trick. And last, bring either one small BIB or a disposable paper bib (Chicco makes great ones) that you can toss so you don't carry the dirty one around. SNACKS, like rice cakes, that seem to take a long time to eat and don't make too much of a mess, are good. Just remember, depending on your child's age, there are things at the airport that can get you through if you have a long layover.

_FORMULA / PUMPED MILK and 1 OR 2 BOTTLES if you need them. You can wash a bottle if you need to (see baby wash below). I kept two travel size formulas in my carry-on (Infamil sells them in the U.S. and HERO in Spain) even when my daughter was just breastfeeding just in case I found myself in a tough situation, but never used them.

_FOR MOM- Change of shirt, just in case you get totally thrashed by the little one, an energy bar (because eating on the plane can be a total luxury), bottle of water (to be bought after security), phone, wallet, passport, camera (because you shouldn't put it in your suitcase) and your Ipod (essential so you can watch a movie, listen to a book or music, even browse photos if you happen to get a free moment ) Things to forget- don't bring books, and mags if you have your IPOD, skip the heavy sweater/jacket- you will be sweating like a pack mule carrying the baby and holding her the whole time. Put your charging cords in your packed luggage.

_STROLLER, CAR SEAT, and SLING/BABY BJORN- Depending on your travel style, and how many people you are traveling with - you will probably bring some big gear. Your CAR SEAT can be great on-board if you bought a seat for the baby, but if you didn't, then you will have to check it as you board the plane if there is not an extra seat available. The TRAVEL STROLLER will carry your stuff and your baby and can usually be checked at the plane. Try to get one that you can fold with one hand and that fully reclines. The SLING or BABY BJORN works to get you through security, allows you to keep a baby or toddler strapped in while you get sorted and take off on the plane, and allows you to go places (like the bathroom)that you may not fit with your stroller. You probably don't need all three but remember that if you don't have your stroller with you, then you are carrying a baby, bag, and car seat.

_MEDICATION and LIQUIDS- Before you leave the house, put your liquids in one plastic bag to save you from having to pull everything out at the airport. (See the seperate post on GETTING THROUGH SECURITY for more details on the 3oz. rule for babies) I bring infant acetaminophen (also know as Tylenol in the U.S. and Parcetamol everywhere else) in case she starts to get sick, her thermometer, and baby wash which can wash a lot of things if we have a major accident. Other possible items- diaper rash cream if you need it, hand gel (but I think the babywash can help with that) and baby lotion but only if your baby has very dry skin. Remember that this is just for the plane ride and everything else can go in your checked luggage.

Traveling can be pretty crazy these days. Long delays, gate changes, and bad weather can lead to a long day of traveling. Do yourself the biggest favor and minimize the fluff as you scurry through the airport. My motto is to try and avoid looking like "Sandford and Son". Make a good mental note each time you travel of what you didn't need (or needed but didn't have) so next time you are even more efficient.

What is your essential on board item? Email babyjetsetter@gmail.com or leave us a comment


Anonymous said...

this is great advice, i am going to fl to see my daughters father who is in the army and i am stressing so much. i guess i was really going over board. lol. great advice.

Anonymous said...

From experience, I'd say pack at least 2 shirts AND a pair of extra pants...especially, if like my baby, yours is a spitter-upper! ;)

Anonymous said...

You are my heroine. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for some good guidance for babe's first international flights.

If your babe is teething, or just a non-stop drooler, as mine is, I'd recommend at least two cloth bibs in the carry on, depending on length of flight(s).