There’s a lot to think about when taking a baby on your travels, especially when it comes to packing. What does a baby need on holiday? We all want to make sure we’re adequately prepared for our family adventure without having to hire a van to take us to the airport.
Babies don’t travel light, but it’s easy to get carried away when packing for a baby. The big test if you’ve overdone it is simple: Can you carry it all? If there are no trolleys or you need to get on a train, are you able to shift your luggage without help?
I usually write a list to make sure I’ve covered the essentials without going overboard. To make life easier for you and save you some time I’ve pulled together my ultimate baby packing list below. It’s unlikely you will need all of this, so pick and choose depending on your child and travel destination.
Out and about
- Pushchair. When travelling with a baby a pushchair fulfills multiple roles, it doubles as a chair, bed, sunshade and trolley. So when choosing your travel buggy make sure it’s lightweight, sturdy, fully reclining and has a good sun hood. Most airlines allow parents to bring a pushchair for free. My choice is the Silver Cross Zest and you can read my review in this post here.
- Baby carrier / sling. Always good to have an alternative to the buggy, as pushchairs are not always allowed or suitable. Try packing it in your hand luggage, so you’ve got your hands free when making your way through the airport and passport control. As they travel in the hold you usually don’t get your pushchair back until you reach the luggage belt
- Car seat. If you’re planning to drive at your destination, think about whether you want to bring your own car seat or hire one with the car. It tends to add quite a bit to your car hire cost, but on the other hand there are extra airline fees and the hassle of carrying it to consider.
- Rucksack carrier. Not essential but really helpful on certain types of holidays. If you’re planning to hike in the country or visit places with uneven terrain, like historic towns, or places with lots of steps, castles for example, a backpack carrier makes all the difference.
- Picnic mat. This is not a must-have but really useful if you can fit it in. Whenever you want to have a little break, when exploring a city for example, just plonk it down in the nearest park or playground and have a family rest.
- Toys / Books. Yes they take up lots of space and are annoyingly heavy, but so worth it. Bring enough toys or books to keep your child entertained on long drives or while you’re sorting out the hotel room. You know best what keeps your child entertained, small toys that keep their attention for a long time are best. For Rosie we usually take 4-5 books, a little ball, and a few of her favourite small toys at the time.
- Blanket. A small blanket can have all sorts of uses when abroad, to sit on, to make the unfamiliar car seat a little more comfortable, to tug them in when napping in the pushchair.
- Baby headphones. Useful if your child wants to watch videos / TV either on the plane or on your phone / tablet.
- Sunshades for the car. If you plan to drive in a hot or sunny country, consider bringing simple sun shades that you can stick to the backseat window.
If your child takes any regular medication then that needs to be top of the list obviously. I don’t advocate turning to medication for every little cough, but it’s good to have a few essentials on you, just in case.
- First aid kit including antisceptic cream and plasters
- Calpol (sachets are more practical than the bottle)
- Teething gel
- Baby Gaviscon
- Hand sanitiser
This very much depends on the age of your baby and what you’re currently feeding.
- Lunch Bag. A little bag to keep your baby’s snacks and meal equipment in one place. It’s useful to have a place you can tidy away a dirty plate or spoon without getting it all over your handbag.
- Baby bottles. The number of bottles to take depends on how many bottles your baby has each day and how often you anticipate you’ll be able to clean and sterilise them. Pack as few as you think you’ll get away with and think carefully how many you need for the journey (always plan for delays!).
- Crockery. Again, pack as little as possible. I usually take one plate and a plastic bowl with lid as you can use it to store left overs. Several spoons. One cup for water and one cup for milk.
- Bib. Always kept in the lunch bag.
- Formula. Depending on the age of your child you’ll need more or less. Do some research on how easily available formula is at your destination. My rule of thumb is to bring enough for the journey plus 48 hours, by then I have usually found a shop to stock up. Either bring pre-portioned powder for the flight or readidly mixed cartons. Although Rosie drinks cows milk now I sometimes pack a couple of emergency cartons, especially on roadtrips where it’s difficult to store milk in the fridge.
- Snacks – lots of them. Long-haul flights are not the time to be too focused on nutrition. Bring rice cakes, fruit, biscuits, sandwiches, whatever it takes to keep your child happy for whatever many hours.
- Emergency meals. Depending on the type of trip you take, it might be worth packing a couple of baby ready meals. Certainly for the flight (consider the return flight, too!), and just im case you struggle to find some suitable food one day, for whatever reason. For example, we got caught out by bank holiday opening hours once (or lack of rather).
- Breast pump. If you’re still breastfeeding / pumping.
- Travel cot. Finding the right travel cot is so important. Make sure you choose one that’s lightweight and easy to carry.
- Baby monitor. Depending on your accommodation set up you might want to bring the monitor. Don’t forget adapters!
- Cot sheets. I tend to take two sheets, gambling that there’s enough time to wash the other until the next accident.
- Sleeping bags. As above, I tend to take two (one in the hand luggage for the flight). Consider the expected temperature at your destination.
- Comfort items / cuddly toys. Whatever your child needs to go to sleep.
- Blackout blinds (if needed)
- Mosquito net (often part of the travel cot)
Safe in the sun
Quite self-explanatory, if you’re heading somewhere hot or the beach, make sure you’ve got everything to protect your baby. However, don’t worry if you don’t as you can usually buy these at typical beach destinations or certainly the airport.
- Baby sun cream SPF 50+
- Swimming aid / armbands
- Sun shade / umbrella for buggy
- Swimming costume
- Swim nappies
- Nappies. You can buy nappies pretty much everywhere in the world so save the space and only take enough to see you through travel day plus 48 hours (or however long until you think you’ll be able to stock up)
- Wipes. As above.
- Nappy sacks (also double as mini bin bags during your travels)
- Nappy cream
- Disposable changing mats (not a whole pack but just a couple)
- Nail scissors (they grow so fast!)
- Toothbrush / tooth paste
- Travel size bath bubbles / shampoo
Whatever the weather
- Rain cover for buggy / backpack carrier. Most buggies or carriers come with a fitted rain cover, just don’t forget to pack it.
- Rain coat
- Wellies and thick socks
- Special equipment (e.g. skiing holidays)
- Ziplock / sandwich bags. Useful to organise small items on the go (pens, bricks, …) and prepare a packed lunch for the little one. Any spare bread rolls or fruit going at breakfast? Wrap them up for later.
- Small tube of washing up liquid and washing up cloth. To wash out bottles, cups and crockery during the day.
- Little storage containers. Store left over snacks, pieces of fruit etc. for later.
- Pocket knife. To be able to cut fruit, or food in general, when out and about.
- A couple of pegs. Just because there are times when they are really handy, to pin things to the pushchair, hang up washing, you never know.
- Steriliser tablets. For milk bottles and breast pump.
- Steam steriliser bags. If you’ve got access to a microwave during your travels these are brilliant. They also double as a container if you need to use steriliser tablets.
Anything missing on this list? Let me know!