10 baby traveling essentials you didn’t know you needed

Guest post by Rachel
These tips can help when you're always on the move! Photo by Makka Kesuma, used under Creative Commons license.

My little family has almost made a career out of travel. This December, Jason and I will have been married six years and during that time, we have relocated countries… hold on, let me do the finger count… six times? Yup. Six times. I am Australian. Jason is American. We now have a little “dualie,” Xavier. We usually live in China.

Xavier is almost one year old. In his first year, he’s been to Australia, USA, Germany, China and back to Australia. I feel like we’ve learned a thing or two (possibly even a few tricks) that are useful for any family considering travel — be it by plane, train or automobile.

Travel baby travel essentials

  • A baby carrier — I recommend Ergo. There’s plenty of other styles — wraps, mai tai’s, ring slings — that are also useful (ring slings can be used as blankets/nursing covers too).
  • Res-Q remedy/ointment — go to your local health food store for this (note: Burt’s Bees has a version!). Modern day miracles that soothe bumps, burns and bites. Great for Mummy’s cuticles. Having this on hand is a lot better than standing in Chinese pharmacy and trying to figure out the universal sign for mosquito bite. Or better yet, a homeopathic first aid kit!
  • Coconut oil — the miracle oil! Hand sanitizer, wound cleaner, sun protection, etc, etc.
  • Mosquito repellant stickers — discovered these in China and they are brilliant.
  • Amber teething necklace — truthfully, I haven’t travelled while my kid is teething so I can’t vouch for this one but my friends tell me they don’t leave home without theirs.
  • A change of clothes…for the parents — your kid will puke or have a nappy blow out. If you’re lucky, he or she will survive the trip in the same clothes. You on the other hand? The odds are not in your favour.
  • A bag of tricks — pack a little bag of fun things. Include a few familiar items, a favourite book, and a few new toys — but nothing should be loud or obnoxious. The gentleman sharing your row will not appreciate irritating songs for the duration of the trip.
  • Snacks — airplane food is not especially nutritious. Here’s a link to the most extensive list of healthy foods you can bring on planes for children. There’s a lot of things on this list that you likely didn’t know was allowed.
  • A stainless steel water bottle with filter — difficult to come by but who wants to spend half their vacation money buying airport water?
  • Baby probiotics — again from your health food store. You can usually buy this in powder form and mix with yoghurt/foods/milk to calm the queaziest of tummies. Drank bath water? Take a probiotic. Gas? Take a probiotic. Diarreaha? Take a probiotic!

Well, this list isn’t meant to be exhaustive by any means. Just a few of our faves!

Comments on 10 baby traveling essentials you didn’t know you needed

  1. Awesome list with great tips! It’s lovely to hear from someone not afraid to be on the move with baby!

    So many of my friends live in exile and never even venture around town with their little ones, for fear of disturbing the nap routine. Thanks for taking the time to give moms the heads up on heading out 🙂

    (although I would nix the Burt’s Bees recommendation as they are owned by Clorox)

  2. I would add a packet of fun bandaids. Bandaids “fix” everything even when theyre not needed. Most kids will stop crying the instant you put one on anything from a scratch to a hangnail or bug bite.

    • Or you can make up a ‘magic healing spell’ that will work even when you forgot the Band-Aid. I saw this work on a friend’s kid – it’s awesome!

      • Oh, my mom used to do something like this! She would buy peppermint candies in bulk and use them as “medicine” for all kinds of things like first day of school nerves or summer camp homesickness.

      • My mum used to have a tiny bottle of magic healing liquid…it was only water with a few drops of essential oil (lavender? I forget) but it ‘worked’ wonders! I’d forgotten about that!

  3. Thanks for the tips- I’m going to get my husband to read them! We are planning on moving- as in MOVING everything we own- to another province this summer, with a one month old (if she arrived on time)! Your talk of traveling around the world with your little one will ease my husband’s anxiety, I think 🙂

    • We moved across the US with a seven-week-old. It’s totally doable! The great thing about newborns is a) they sleep a lot and b) they don’t care where they are as long as you’re there. We packed the car for the multi-day drive pretty much full of the baby’s stuff, because you won’t want to wait for the movers to bring the bouncy chair, stroller, swaddlers, etc. My daughter is 10 months now and I am really, really glad we moved when she was so young, rather than waiting til she was older and had more complex needs.

  4. yay for traveling babies. My 3 year old has been to 7 countries. 🙂

    I don’t have any fav products other than travel size of everything and 2 changes of clothes! 🙂

    My favorite is to hit up the dollar store or cheap local equivalent and buy a handful of new things to surprise the kid with on the airplane or in the airport. Wacky glasses, birthday party blower-straw things, stickers, small pencils, pens that do funny things like light up, necklaces, finger-puppets – basically small trinkets that you won’t care if they get lost or broken. Spending headspace trying to remember even one more thing is wasteful. Who cares if they leave them behind. Playdough makes tiny little sets, a mini-tool and 2 tiny play dough containers. This will easily give me 30 mins of (assisted) happy quiet playtime. Rotate your stash only as they have exhausted the toy. Don’t introduce more than 1 new item an hour, if you are on a long flight. Plus, never underestimate the power of playing with cups and strirrers, the barf bag, drawing funny faces in the sky mall magazine, stacking creamers to make a creamer tower, etc. Kids can be amused by weird things.

    Also, I found that when they are in a particularly “exploratory” phase (usually 18 months-3 years) as much as it is a pain, on any flight longer than 3 hours I brought the carseat with me on the plane. She was used to being strapped in it, and we could get her to sit still and nap/eat/focus/etc. To get it through the airport, I would put the kid in the ERGO on my back, and push the carseat on top of the stroller.

    Also, and this only has worked in Europe, when I am traveling alone I will ask nicely if security will allow me to roll my kid through the scanner in her stroller, and then I let them pat her down while she’s still strapped in it. People in the U.S. have been making a fuss over pat downs on kids, but if it means that I can get my belongings, put my belt back on, put all my crap back in the stroller, etc… all while not having to chase a toddler, then I really don’t see the problem. Take it or leave it tip.

    On flights that serve food, you can usually request a special meal. I always request vegetarian (because I’m vegetarian) and for my kid I request a child meal. Now, I don’t love her to eat chicken nuggets (and usually forbid them) but far too often the adult meal is something she won’t eat. The first couple times that my child ate a snack cup of applesauce for dinner on a 9 hour flight, I learned my lesson. Order the child menu. 🙂

    Make friends on the flight. Particularly if your kid is unhappy. There is usually another family with a kid, age doesn’t matter. Try to chat them up once you can move about the cabin. Babies fascinate toddlers, Older kids love to help younger ones, etc. And sometimes if the kids are close in age they can sit together for a bit and share toys or do drawings.

    If we have a layover, I try to find a good restaurant in the airport for our meal and see if there is any type of family area. I also bring a small blow-up ball and play in a less crowded section.

    And not for the flight, but I try to always book apartments or apart-hotels where you have a kitchen. Makes travel with kids sooo much better.

    happy travels. 🙂

    • A carseat is only necessary if you plan to use it on the other side of where you travel too. Otherwise, it’s cumbersome and even flight attendents will tell you it can be (not always) a pain in the neck and depending on how full your flight is, will sometimes make you check it at the gate. The airline will provide you with a special seat belt to strap your baby in anyway. If you use their seatbelt, it makes it much easier to breastfeed on take-off/landing too. Come to think of it, I’ve never actually been on an international flight where I’ve seen a carseat. I’ve heard of people doing it though.

  5. “Travel essentials for babies you didn’t know you needed” – I was at first thinking, “Did I not know I needed a baby? What does this mean?!”

  6. So if you have traveled by air with an infant did you get them their own seat and bring a car seat with you? I need some advice on planning this trip.


    • We traveled with our then 12 month old this past summer and just by knowing HIM, we absolutely got him his own seat and brought a car seat. We couldn’t have risked him not having a seat with a car seat (and turns out our flight was packed). For our son, he could never have been a lap baby from about 6 months on, he was just too squirrely and we all would have been miserable. There is no way we could have done it, I was worried if we could even hold ONTO him for a whole flight. (And it scares me to think of severe turbulence when flight attendants tell you that you cannot possibly hang onto your child in something like that or an emergency.)

      So, we bought the seat and he sat happily in his car seat about 90% of the time, eating bits of food, playing with new toys, talking with us, looking out the window, etc.) He sits in a car seat at home so this was familiar, and he loved that we were sitting with him instead of in the front like we might when driving.

      But you know your baby best!

    • I flew across the Atlantic with a 2-3 month old (it was a month long trip 🙂 and we didn’t get the car seat.. but she hates hers anyway, and I wasn’t about to pay over a thousand bucks to get her her own seat, either. Both ways we ended up with an empty seat next to us anyway, though, so had I brought her a car seat we could have used it!

      • You have to check with your airline – I’ve flown with my son a lot – with and without a carseat, on the occassional that we had a carseat the attendants were extremely nervous/uncertain, in one case I showed them a printout of their own airlines carseat guidance. Not all carseats are FAA or airline approved – so it really is safest to check with the airline.

        Definitely order the child meal – but be warned, if they are flying as a lap child (particularly once they are approaching two), you might find that the only meal available is the ‘infant’ option – and my 21 month old is not interested in Heinz purees

    • Up until two, if you’re prepared to hold them, you can travel without booking an extra seat. I personally have not traveled with a carseat and actually have never been on a flight with anyone that has. If your flight is full, some airlines will actually make you check your carseat at the gate anyway I’ve heard. Most of my ex-pat mummy friends travel carseatless unless they plan to use the carseat on the other side.

  7. As an intl. Flight attendant and mom: the best thing you can bring is a car seat. The child knows what it is for, is use to it and will save your back. Bring your own child’s food as my major airline does not have children’s meals. Bring extra diapers and formula as flights get delayed and weather happens. But mostly bring your willingness to be entertaining to your child,your patience and leave the anxiety at home. Kids pick up on your emotions and will mimic them. Good luck and happy flying.

  8. After just completing another trip/flight with my now 15 month old by myself, I would just like to say that crayons are not a good idea…if you notice that someone very creatively decorated the tray at your seat, you’ll know who to thank.

    New small toys as well as a couple of old favorite small books work really well for us.

    On this most recent trip, I used my stroller to cart the carseat and the diaper bag to the airport counter, wore the baby in the ergo, and wore a large frameless backpack on my back. That keeps me from having to pay to check anything (the carseat checks free) and makes it really easy.

    The best part about using a baby carrier is that you can wear it as you go through security. I’ve worn my daughter through several different airports now and it seems to be standard practice that they allow you to continue to wear your child as you walk through the metal detector.

    • I have a fan ‘colouring’ travel set that draws with a pen filled with water – it was perfect for the plane – with the added bonus that the drawings dry quickly and disappear so that you can start again. (Mine is covered in Japanese text, but I’ll look for the brand name)

  9. I always have an amber necklace on my baby, ever since she was 3 or 4 months old (good thing, ’cause her first teeth popped through at 5.5 months)–well, except when we left for our 2-week Christmas holiday to see my family in Ohio. We were at the border, she was cranky, and I realized what we’d done–given her a bath the night before and left her necklace on the doorknob! It was the crankiest, drooliest two weeks of her life. We got another teething necklace from store we stopped into, but I don’t think it was real amber; it didn’t do much. As soon as we got her home & put her other necklace on her–back to being her happy, minimally drooly self. Prior to forgetting it, I’d considered the necklace skeptically, a better-safe-than-sorry measure. Now, I’m a believer!

  10. We don’t go anywhere without our carrier. I have a Boba, because my husband is way taller than an Ergo supports, but when we even just go to the grocery store, it’s so much better than lugging around a stroller. I bought one for a friend over seas who was bring her newborn to the States for the first time. After their first “running connection” for flights, they sure were glad they didn’t have a stroller!

  11. oooh really good tips here! I second everything Stacey said. I travelled across country a while ago with my 18 month old as a lap child. I was very nervous about the long flights (2.5 and 6 hours + 2h layover) and truth be told it IS challending but quite doable.

    I used the baby carrier through the airport (love my ergo) and used the stroller to carry my diaper bag. My little guy loves the carrier and is less fussy. I didn`t have to take him out through security.

    The downside to travelling is it really threw my toddler`s schedule out the window (despite my best efforts to keep a strict nap routine etc) and for weeks after he refused to nap and would throw tantrums. He eventually returned to the sweet, easygoing toddler but I would think twice before leaving for more than a few days again!

    I also stopped at a dollar store and picked up random toys. I’m usually against it (worried about the paint, small parts etc) but they`re really a lifesaver to keep little ones busy.

  12. Great tips, but has someone pointed out yet that coconut oil, while a miracle moisturiser and something I use often, IS NOT IN ANY WAY SUN PROTECTION?

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