Baby packing list (+ printable baby checklist for travelling)

Last updated on August 8, 2023

Fellow parents often tell me that one of the things that puts them off traveling with a baby the most is all the stuff they’ll have to bring and organise – and the daunting task of working it all out.

So, to make it a little easier, I’ve put together this baby checklist for travelling, made from years of experience travelling with little ones.

It’s true, you will be travelling with more than you did as a solo traveller, but you don’t need to go completely overboard. Remember that, so long as there are kids living in the place you’re going, you’ll be able to buy essentials and anything you forget once there.  

Probably the most important part is the hand luggage as that’s the only thing you can’t add to once on the plane. Make sure you have everything you need in there, allowing for potential delays too.

So here are my baby packing list essentials. It’ll of course vary depending on the destination and climate, but here’s a guide to get you started.

Also see our guide to travelling with a baby, and survival guide for flying with a baby.

Free printable baby checklist for traveling

What to consider when packing for a baby

Baggage when fling with a baby

What bags to bring for a baby?

The number of bags you bring will depend on how far and how long you’re travelling for. And also on your airline’s baggage restrictions if you’re flying.

We’ve done trips where we pack all our stuff into one big suitcase, separating our stuff into individual packing cubes to keep it organised. This is a good option if you’re travelling with an airline that has small hand luggage restrictions, so the cheapest option is normally to add one big suitcase, rather than 2 or 3 smaller ones.

But my favourite configuration is a big bag for me and Steve, plus a smaller bag for the baby (or a shared big bag if you’re travelling with more than one kid).

On top of that, we bring our own hand luggage backpack and a backpack changing bag. Most of the hand luggage baby stuff can go into the changing bag, but some might need to overspill into your separate land luggage.

What bags do we use?

Inside the Storksak
Inside the Storksak

For our big bag, we use the 75cm Samsonite Flux hard shell case, which holds 85L, expanding to 95L if you need it. It’s super easy to wheel around, but obviously gets very heavy if you overfill it, so be mindful of that if you’re going to be climbing lots of stairs or travelling over uneven ground.

My favourite baby travel bag is the Storksak carry-on, which comes with a handy insert that allows you to organise everything into sections, a bit like packing cubes. You can even take out the insert and hang it directly in a wardrobe wherever you’re staying.

And for a nappy changing bag, I love the Babymel Robyn backpack. It looks pretty stylish (somewhat similar to a Hershel bag) and I find it far more comfortable and convenient to carry than a shoulder bag. It comes with a portable baby changing mat too.

Don’t forget to use packing cubes

The secret to successful packing for everyone is using packing cubes. They’re an absolute game changer when it comes to keeping things organised and also fitting more stuff into your suitcase. We’ve had these Eagle Creek ones for years, and added these Amazon ones recently. The Eagle Creek ones feel more robust, but the Amazon ones are cheaper.

What baggage allowance do babies get on a flight?

The baggage allowance for babies and infants varies depending on the airline. As a rule of thumb, you’re normally allowed the following for infants under two who are travelling without their own booked seat:

  • 2 pieces of checked baby equipment (e.g travel cot, car seat or stroller)
  • 1 carry-on changing bag

Baby packing list

Essentials

These are the essentials you need to travel with a baby.

  • Passport
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa
  • Letter from second guardian if not travelling together

Passport

Babies need a passport to travel internationally. Make sure you order one in plenty of time as there are often long wait times, at least in the UK.

Travel insurance

Babies and kids need travel insurance too, so make sure they’re included on your policy. We get ours with True Traveller who offer good service and the ability to buy the insurance once you’re already travelling.

Visa

If you need a visa to travel where you’re going, for example an ESTA for the USA, your baby will too. Make sure you apply for one in plenty of time.

Letter from second guardian if not travelling together

This isn’t always necessary, but good to have, just in case. If a child is travelling without both parents/guardians, make sure you have a signed letter from the absent parent saying they give permission for the child to travel. It should ideally be signed by a witness too. Although not a legal requirement, some immigration officials will ask to see this.

Getting around

Travel to Barcelona with a baby

What you’ll need to get around with a baby when travelling will depend heavily on the destination. Are you going to be doing lots of car journeys and will need a car seat? And is the destination stroller-friendly? Here’s what we’d recommend…

Stroller

Some people opt to only bring a baby carrier, but we’ve always brought a stroller with us when travelling with a baby. We find it’s easier for naps, navigating the airport, and generally saving our backs! There are some destinations that are less stroller-friendly than others, but we’ve generally found it useful to have one wherever we go.

When it comes to strollers, you can simply bring the one you use at home or get a specifically lightweight travel stroller (or make sure your usual one is lightweight to begin with). A lightweight, small option is easier for destinations like cities where you have to navigate smaller, crowded spaces. Or if you’re going somewhere with lots of steps. But we’ve also travelled with a bulky travel system (the now discontinued Nuna Mixx) and it wasn’t really a problem as we rarely needed to carry it.

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If you have the choice, I’d recommend getting one of the strollers that you can bring as carry-on luggage – for example the Babyzen Yoyo or the GB Pockit+ All-Terrain. Then you’ll have the option to keep it with you at all times, and won’t have to wait for it at the baggage carousel. Just bear in mind that it will probably count as one of your carry-on bags, so you’ll need to bring one less (the free baby equipment normally only applies to checked baggage rather than carry-on).

Stroller bag

To protect your stroller on the plane, you can use a stroller bag. We did this when we were travelling with the big Nuna Mixx, but don’t always bother with the smaller one. One handy thing about using these is that you can stuff some extra stuff in there outside of your baggage allowance. We often put our coats in there. We have the Phil and Ted bag, which is super sturdy and protective. When not using it, you can roll it up and put it in the stroller basket.

Car seat (+car seat travel cart)

If you’re going to be hiring a car, it’s a good idea to bring your own car seat from home. You can hire one from the rental company, but we’ve had situations where the company has failed to reserve one for us, or we’ve been unhappy with the seat’s quality. That said, you can only bring two pieces of baby equipment, so we often use that for the cot and stroller, and then hope for the best with the car seat hire. More often than not, it’s fine.

For children who are a bit older, you can get one of these little portable car seats, which are pretty useful if you’re just doing a few journeys here and there.

If you like you could get a car seat dolly, which makes the car seat double as a stroller in the airport. But I’d only do this if you’re not travelling with a stroller too. We’ve never had cause to use one.

Baby carrier (sturdy and soft)

For us, a baby carrier is an essential piece of kit. They’re useful for navigating places that aren’t stroller friendly, plus we’ve also found them useful on airplanes. Our kids rarely slept in the bassinet on the plane, but they were happy to sleep on us in the carrier.

We love the Ergobaby 360. But I also like to travel with a soft carrier too as I find these more comfortable when sitting down (for example while the baby sleeps on me in a restaurant). My favourite is this one by Studio Romeo because it’s stylish and super easy to use.

Sleeping

New York with a baby - Hoxton Hotel

The holy grail of happy parents and babies is sleep (and one we never truly mastered). I think a fair amount of successful sleep is down to luck, but there are some definite things you’ll need when travelling with a baby.

Travel cot and sheets

You might not need a travel cot if you know that all the places you’ll be staying can provide one. But many people prefer to bring their own one anyway. It kind of depends on how fussy your baby is. At the least, you might like to bring your own sheets (or you can use a big muslin/swaddle)

We use the Baby Bjorn travel cot, which is pretty lightweight and really easy to set up and take down.

Baby sleeping bag

If your baby is used to sleeping in a sleeping bag, be sure to bring one or two of these, and bear in mind the temperature of the place you’re going. You might need to get a different tog level if you’re going somewhere significantly hotter or cooler.

Groegg

This isn’t an essential, but you we found having a Groegg or other room thermometer reassuring when our kids were little. I worried a lot about them overheating, so liked to know the temperature of the room so we could dress them accordingly. They’re very lightweight and don’t take up too much space.

Dummy/pacifier

If your child uses a dummy/pacifier then be sure to pack one or two of these. Even though our kids didn’t use them, we still brought one with us for the flight as we’d heard they could help with the ear pressure adjustment. Alas, they still wouldn’t suck on it.

Favourite soft toy/comforter

One of our kids is totally attached to his cuddly racoon so we bought a second one specifically for travelling. When he was a baby, he had no idea there were two, and now he’s older he understands it’s best to leave the original safely at home.

So make sure to either bring your kids favourite cuddly/comforter – or even better, buy a second one to bring with you.

Blanket

A blanket is useful for keeping babies warm on the plane or in the stroller. In warmer climates, a large muslin might be fine instead, but we have always brought at least a lightweight blanket for cool nights and on the plane.

Hygiene

  • Nappies
  • Wipes
  • Nappy sacks
  • Nappy cream
  • Portable nappy changing mat
  • Change of baby clothes for travel days
  • Change of clothing for parents on travel days
  • Handwash

Nappies

Nappies/diapers are one of the things people always tend to overpack. It’ll depend on the age of the baby, but for your hand luggage, we recommend bringing at least one for every hour of travel, plus a few extra for emergencies. And then also pack some in your main luggage for when you get there (enough for a day or two). You can then buy the rest at your destination.

Our babies were both prone to nappy rash and many nappies/diapers irritated them, but we never failed to find a brand that suited them when travelling. Huggies/Pampers tend to be available in most places.

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Wipes

As with nappies, bring enough wipes for your journey (normally one or two packs) plus an extra pack in your main luggage. And then buy the rest while there.

Nappy sacks

Nappy sacks aren’t the norm in all countries, but we do find them useful for journeys where we want to keep smelly nappies contained. Bring a pack for your journey and then buy more in your destination if necessary. If you really want some and they aren’t available in the country you’re travelling to, you could buy doggy sacks instead.

Nappy cream

Bring a tube of your preferred nappy cream/s. We love Welleda’s Calendula for everyday, and Metanium for nappy rash.

Portable nappy changing mat

You’ll likely be doing some nappy changes on the go, so bring a portable nappy change mat. We use the one that came with our Babymel Robyn backpack. You could just use a muslin, but a wipe-clean option is preferable so you don’t have to wash it so often.

Change of baby clothes for travel days

For the day you’re travelling, bring at least one change of clothes for the baby. As you’ll know, nappy explosions, spills, vomit etc can quickly ruin outfits. And you don’t want the baby to be uncomfortable when travelling. Bring more changes if your journey is really long.

Change of clothing for parents on travel days

I also recommend bringing a change of clothes for yourself (perhaps something lightweight like some leggings and a t-shirt) as those nappy explosions, spills and vomit might also affect you!

Baby wash

Pack a travel size version of your preferred baby wash/shampoo. You’ll be able to buy more there if you run out.

Feeding

If your baby hasn’t started weaning yet, you’ll just need to focus on the milk side of things for this list. It gets a bit more complicated as they get older and you need to take into account food etc. Here’s what we recommend.

  • Muslins
  • Swaddles
  • Breast pump
  • Milk storage bags
  • Breast pads
  • Formula and bottles
  • Sippy cup
  • Baby food and snacks
  • Spoons
  • Portable high chair

Muslins

The number one item on every baby list is muslins, those little pieces of fabric that fulfil endless tasks from mopping up sick to acting as a makeshift change mat. Bring about seven if you’re travelling for a week as you’ll likely get through at least one a day. Luckily, they’re pretty easy to handwash, so you could get away with bringing less.

Swaddles/large muslins

As well as small muslins, we recommend bringing a couple of huge ones too. These can be used as a lightweight blanket, a swaddle, breastfeeding cover-up, cot sheets and more. We love these ones by Aden & Anais.

Breast pump

If you’re breastfeeding and pumping, bring your usual pump. I only ever used a silicone one every now and then because both of my kids wouldn’t take a bottle. But other parents have recommended the Elvie.

Milk storage bags

If you’re pumping, bring enough milk storage bags to get you through the journey and the first few days, You can buy more there.

Breast pads

If breastfeeding and using pads, bring enough for the journey and the first few days. Most places should have these available. Or perhaps buy some reusable ones that you can handwash or put in with the laundry.

Formula and bottles

Bring enough formula and bottles for the flight, and check ahead to make sure the formula you need is available where you’re travelling. Even if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, it might be a good idea to bring some formula and a bottle for emergencies. We always brought some of the ready made formula bottles on the plane, just in case.

Sippy cup

For babies who have moved onto water, remember to bring a sippy cup.

Baby food and snacks

If your baby is weaning, you’ll need to bring enough food and snacks for the journey., Remember to pack enough to allow for delays. This is one of the only areas where I freely overpack as I can’t bear the idea of running out of food! We relied heavily on pouches for journeys.

Once at your destination, you’ll be able to prepare your own baby food, or buy it at supermarkets. When we were in the USA doing a month-long road trip, we used to bulk order Ella’s Pouches from Amazon and have them delivered to lockboxes along the way.

Spoons

Another one for babies who are weaning – you’ll need to bring spoons or any other utensils they’re used to.

Bibs

Bring a bib for every day, up to about seven days. Any more days than that and you can do a wash.

Portable high chair

This isn’t essential for all trips. For example, if you’re going to a family-friendly hotel and staying there the whole time, high chairs should be provided (check ahead to make sure). But if you’re moving around a lot and don’t know what facilities will be provided, a portable high chair is super useful.

You can get fabric ones that you attach to chairs, but I personally love the Summer Infant pop ‘n sit as it’s more sturdy and can also sit on the floor.

Health

Tips for doing a package holiday in style

These are all things you hopefully won’t need on your travels, but are essential to have just in case. When it comes to health, we think it’s better to be prepared.

  • Calpol and Neurofen
  • Teething gel
  • Plasters
  • Cooling gel sachets
  • Nail clippers or scissors
  • Vitamins
  • Thermometer
  • Medical documentation (e.g Red Book)
  • Medication
  • Handwash

Calpol and Neurofen

We always take a bottle of baby paracetamol (calpol) and ibuprofen (neurofen) with us when travelling, just in case the baby comes down with something or starts teething. Just a bottle of each will do as you’ll be able to buy more once there.

Teething gel

Our oldest child started teething on one of our trips, so we were pleased to be prepared with some teething gel and paracetamol.

Plasters

Every parent/guardian needs to make plasters a staple of their bag!

Cooling gel sachets

Our doctor friend made us a mini baby first aid kit and included these cooling burn sachets, which are recommended for minor burns. We have made them a staple of our kit ever since.

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Nail clippers or scissors

I can’t believe how quickly kids nails grow. Bring a pair of clippers or scissors to keep on top of them while you’re away.

Vitamins

Bring any vitamins that you use at home. We gave vitamin D drops from birth and then moved onto Abidec.

Thermometer

It’s good to have a thermometer for peace of mind, so you can quickly know if your child has a fever. We use an in-ear thermometer from Braun, but you could get a smaller, simpler one for travel if space is an issue.

Medical documentation (E.g Red Book)

In the UK, it’s recommended that you travel with your baby’s red book/health record. I think this is particularly important if there are any illnesses/conditions that it would be good for medical professionals to know about quickly.

Medication

If your baby is on any medication, make sure to bring enough for your entire stay.

Hand wash

Bring some handwash for yourself for when doing nappy changes on the go. And also bring some baby friendly wash, especially if your child is weaning and using their hands to eat.

Entertainment

Arlo playing with busy board

The older your baby is, the more entertainment they’ll likely need. We’d recommend the following, scaling up as the baby gets older.

  • Baby books
  • Clip-on toys and lace for makeshift play gym
  • Teething toy

Baby books

A few baby books are useful if they’re part of your bedtime routine. Plus they’re useful for keeping babies entertained on long journeys. If they’re very young, go for high contrast options, so they can be entertained by the patterns.

Clip-on toys and lace for makeshift play gym

Clip-on toys, like this Lamaze toy, are really useful as you can attach them to the stroller or car seat. Plus we used to bring along a shoelace and string them up as a makeshift baby gym in hotel rooms or on the beach.

Teething toy

Even if your baby hasn’t started teething yet, bring a teething toy in case they start while you’re away. There’s nothing to lose as it’ll double as a normal toy too.

Clothing

California trip with Otis

Clothing can be a tricky one to judge, especially if your destination has a variable temperature. The key to success, as with adults, is to pack layers. I tend to never pack for longer than a week, and instead do a wash on day 6 and then use the same clothes again. Just make sure to check there’s somewhere you can do as wash while there. Bear in mind, hotels often charge a premium for this, so it’s often better to seek out a laundrette/independent provider.

Here’s what I recommend packing for a week:

  • 7 x everyday outfits
  • 1 or 2 dressy outfits (depends on the style of your trip)
  • 7 x PJs/sleepsuits
  • 1 x coat/pram suit (if cold weather)
  • 2 x hat (summer hat or beanie depending on weather)

7 everyday outfits

These will depend on the weather – go for layers if you’re unsure. For example, a vest, plus leggings and a cardigan.

1 or 2 dressy outfits

You might not need any ‘dressy’ outfits, but depending on your own style, and the style of the trip, you might want to bring a couple of smart outfits.

7 PJs/sleepsuits

We found that baby PJs and sleepsuits always got grubby quickly, so I’d recommend bringing enough for 7 days.

1 coat/pram suit

If it’s going to be cold where you’re travelling, be sure to bring a coat or pram suit to keep your baby snug.

2 hats

Depending on the weather, bring one or two summer hats or beanies.

Swimsuit

If you’re heading somewhere with a pool or you’re going to the beach, bring a baby swimsuit. We normally bring tight fitting swim pants to keep any nappy contents contained and then add a swimming onesie over the top. For colder destinations, we bring a little wetsuit like this.

Swim nappies

You’ll need swim nappies to avoid any messy accidents in the water. Normally you can buy them at your destinations, but we found it impossible to buy them in Thailand. So do check ahead to make sure they’re available locally.

For hot weather vacations

Here are some extra bits and bobs you might want to bring for a summer vacation somewhere warm.

Beach tent/parasol

If you’re on a beach holiday and have the space, it could be worth bringing a pop-up tent for the beach. These are great for creating shade for the baby, and also a cosy place for them to sleep on beach days out.

Suntan lotion

Pack some baby-friendly suntan lotion. You might want to do a patch test before you go. One of our sons is allergic to some suntan lotion ingredients, so we have a narrow range of possibilities.

Sunglasses

Your baby might not tolerate these, but sunglasses are handy (and look super cute) if they’ll wear them. We like the brand Babiators by Natural Baby Shower.

What to pack in a baby’s hand luggage?

Getting ready to board plane
Getting ready to board plane with our pushchair in its bag

If you’re flying with a baby, we recommend travelling with these items in your hand luggage. They’re all included in the big list above, so you don’t need to repeat them. This is just for quick reference if you’re wondering how to separate them out.  

Essentials

  • Passport
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa
  • Letter from second guardian if not travelling together

Sleeping

  • Favourite soft toy/comforter
  • Blanket or baby sleeping bag

Nappy and Toileting

  • Nappies (the amount will depend on the baby’s age, but we recommend at least one for every hour of travel, plus a few extra for emergencies)
  • Wipes
  • Nappy sacks
  • Change of clothes (2 if travelling long haul)
  • Nappy changing mat
  • Change of clothing for parents
  • Nappy cream

Feeding

  • Muslins
  • Swaddle
  • Breast pump
  • Milk storage bags
  • Breast pads
  • Formula and bottle
  • Sippy cup
  • Baby food and snacks
  • Spoons

Health

  • Calpol
  • Neurofen
  • Teething gel
  • First aid kit
  • Nail clippers
  • Vitamins (Abidec and Vitamin D drops)
  • Thermometer
  • Plasters
  • Medical documentation (E.g Red Book)
  • Hand wash

Entertainment

  • Baby books and toys
  • Airplane toys for toddlers
  • Teething toy

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