When you’re traveling with a baby or toddler, having the right gear can make or break your trip.
You want to pack all the essentials, while saving as much space in your luggage as possible.
Packing lightweight, portable travel gear can make your trip easier and more fun for both you and your little one.
That’s why I’ve put together this comprehensive list of baby and toddler travel essentials to help you travel like an expert. Even if it’s your first trip with your baby.
Click to jump straight to each topic
Essentials for getting around
You’ll be spending a lot of time at the airport, in the car, and/or walking around and exploring your destination.
You probably don’t want to have to hold your baby in your arms the whole time.
That’s why it’s a good idea to bring along a good travel stroller or baby carrier, as well as a travel car seat (if you’re going to be doing any driving), to make getting around as convenient as possible.
A travel stroller
Depending on the size and weight of your usual stroller, you may want to invest in a travel stroller, especially if you fly with your little one frequently.
Travel strollers are a great option for plane or train rides, or if you need to save some extra space in the trunk of your car on a road trip.
They’re also more convenient for taking into small shops and cafes, as well as riding on public transportation, since they’re smaller and less bulky than regular strollers and often fold up for easy stowing.
If you’re planning on checking your travel stroller on an airplane, keep in mind that it’s likely to take some abuse during baggage handling, so it’s a good idea to remove any accessories (like cup holders) that may get damaged or fall off during the journey.
Our pick – Summer Infant 3D Lite Convenience Stroller
Our favourite travel stroller is the Summer Infant 3D Lite Convenience Stroller. Its compact and lightweight design makes it easy to transport, but it’s sturdy enough to handle being checked and can accomodate little ones up to 50 pounds.
Some of our favourite features include:
- It has a lightweight aluminum frame which manages to still feel sturdy.
- The seat reclines into a sleeping position so your little one can nap on the go.
- It has a carry strap and folds up for easy stowing.
- The storage basket underneath the stroller and the little pocket in the back provide extra storage. It also has a cup holder so you can sip on your late while walking through the streets of Italy.
- It has anti-shock front wheels and is easy to manoeuvre.
A baby carrier
Baby carriers are perfect for toting your little one around hands free while traveling, and most are compact enough to stuff into your carry on for easy storage.
Even if you’re also packing a travel stroller, it’s often a good idea to bring a baby carrier along as well to give you another option. If your baby gets fussy in the stroller, it’s nice to be able to whip out the baby carrier rather than having to sacrifice an arm to hold them.
Baby carriers also allow you to wear your baby during your flight, which can be a great way to share your seat with your baby without having to cradle them in your arms the whole time.
It’s worth noting, however, that most airlines will require you to take your little one out of the carrier during takeoff and landing.
Our pick – Ergobaby 360 Ergonomic Baby Carrier
Features we love include:
- The wide waistband is great for lower back support.
- You can easily adjust the straps to get comfortable, and can accommodate a baby or toddler.It includes tuckaway hood for sun and wind protection.
- It can accommodate a variety of carrying positions and can be worn as a front pack or backpack.
- It’s machine washable.
A travel car seat
Whether you’re gearing up for a road trip, planning on renting a car once you reach your destination, or simply making use of taxis (or Ubers) during your trip, a travel car seat is a must when traveling with a baby or toddler.
If you’re planning on renting a car, it is worth noting that many rental companies offer car seats as add-ons, so keep that in mind when determining whether or not you need to bring one with you.
Like with strollers, your little one’s usual car seat is simply too big and bulky to travel with–especially if you’re flying.
If your baby’s everyday car seat is over 50 pounds and took you hours to install, you’re definitely not going to want to lug that thing around the airport with you.
Investing in a smaller, more compact travel car seat can make all the difference in the world.
Our pick – Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat
Here are some of our favorite things about it:
- It only weighs 9 pounds and is easy to carry.
- It can be configured to accommodate both rear-facing infants (from 5 to 30 pounds) and forward-facing toddlers (from 22 to 40 pounds).
- The seat has a removable, machine washable pad, which is super convenient if your little one is going to be eating on the go.
Essentials for sleeping
The last thing you want is for your little one to be tired and cranky during your daytime activities.
Making sure you bring along the right travel essentials can make all the difference when it comes to getting your baby to sleep while you’re traveling.
A travel crib
Depending on where you’re going, you may be able to request a travel crib. Many hotels and resorts provide cribs to guests; however, supplies are generally limited and not every hotel offers them.
If you can’t get one from your accommodation, bringing along a travel crib can be a lifesaver! The right travel crib can not only help your little one get comfortable, but can also be filled with their favorite blankets and stuffed animals to make them feel at home.
Good travel cribs are light, portable, safe, cozy, and affordable. It’s also important that they are easy to set up and take down, especially if you have multiple stops on your journey and have to reassemble your little one’s sleeping quarters more than once.
Your baby is likely to be tired, especially after a long car ride or flight. Making sure they get a good night’s sleep on the first night can make all the difference for the rest of the trip. The right travel crib could be just the thing they need to sleep through the night.
Our pick – Lotus Travel Crib
At just 13 pounds, it’s lightweight and portable (it can even fit in your carry on), without sacrificing comfort or safety.
It’s also easy and super quick to assemble, so it’s perfect for those long trips with multiple stops.
- The Lotus crib can also be used as a playpen. It’s enclosed, with breathable mesh that allows you to keep an eye on your tot from a distance.
- The crib also includes a side door that allows your little one to crawl in and out during playtime but zips up to keep them safe and tucked away when it’s time to sleep.
A toddler travel bed
If your little one has outgrown bassinets and cribs, but isn’t quite ready for a twin bed, consider bringing along a toddler travel bed.
If you’re hoping to keep your little one out of your own bed and don’t want to request an extra cot in your hotel room or pack an extra full-sized air mattress for a camping trip, toddler travel beds are a great option.
Even if your toddler could still technically fit in their travel crib or one provided at a hotel, it’s often a good idea to resist the urge to use it. If your child has already become used to sleeping in a big-kid bed at home, it can be really hard to go back to a crib while on vacation.
Inflatable and fold-up tot-sized travel beds are usually lightweight and convenient, and can be used for almost any kind of adventure.
Whether you’re staying with family and friends, at a hotel or resort, or camping at the lake or in the woods, most toddler travel beds can be set up relatively quickly and help your little one sleep through the night.
These beds are not just great for vacations. They can also be used for:
- Camp-outs in the backyard
- Toddler sleepover parties
- Day-care naps
- Naps during the day at home
Our pick – Shrunks Toddler Inflatable Travel Bed
The bed also comes with an electric pump and carry bag. The soft surface of the mattress prevents those annoying squeaking noises, and the bed also has a tuck-in feature, so you can tuck your toddler in with standard crib sheets and blankets that fold into the inner air mattress.
A sleep sack
For infants and babies, sleep sacks can be a great travel option. They look a little like a baby-sized snuggie, and work like a combination between a sleeping bag and a regular baby blanket.
They may have zippers or snaps on top to keep your baby snuggled in, and fit like a soft sleeping bag on the bottom.
Sleep sacks are not only helpful for keeping your baby warm and cozy in their crib during naps. Your little one won’t be able to wriggle out of the sack like they might with a regular blanket, so sleep sacks are a good choice for babies making the transition from swaddling to regular blankets.
They’re also lightweight and super portable, so you can use them on a plane, car or train ride, and any other time your baby needs a little extra warmth. Traveling with a sleep sack also means you don’t have to pack as many blankets in your luggage!
Our pick – HALO SleepSack 100% Cotton Wearable Blanket
- It can be easily worn over regular sleepwear and is sleeveless, so your baby won’t overheat.
- It’s available in multiple sizes to accommodate babies from birth to 36 pounds.
- The zipper starts at the bottom of the sack, making for easy diaper changes, even on a flight.
- There’s plenty of room for your baby to move around in the sack, but the fact that it’s enclosed will keep them warm.
Essentials for eating
What you need to bring with you for mealtimes will depend on where you’re going and your specific travel plans, along with your child’s age and whether or not you’re currently breast or bottle feeding.
There are some key items you can bring with you on your trip to make feeding your baby while traveling easier.
A wipeable silicone bib
Cloth bibs are great, but they’re not necessarily the most practical when it comes to feeding your little one on the go.
This is especially true if you’re planning on going multiple days without doing laundry. Food tends to stick to the fabric and you can usually only get one good meal out of them before you have to wash them.
An easy-to-clean silicone bib is definitely a travel essential. These bibs are durable, can be used again and again.
You can also get them in cute colors and designs and they’re often adjustable.
Our pick – Healthy Happy Parent Waterproof Silicone Bib
Besides being easy to clean, our favorite feature is the large pocket at the bottom of the bibs, which (unlike cloth pockets) actually stays open to catch falling food.
A travel high chair
It’s a pain having to eat every meal with your baby on your lap because you don’t have a high chair. Unfortunately, you can’t always rely on restaurants providing them.
Obviously, it’s not practical to bring your baby’s usual high chair with you, but a compact, foldable travel high chair may be just what you need to make mealtimes easy and enjoyable during your trip.
Travel high chairs are designed to be lightweight and portable, and many come with a bag or carrying case for easy transportation.
Like with the silicone bibs, travel high chairs are not only useful on vacation. They can also be great for day trips, picnics at the park, visiting friends or family, and other on-the-go meals.
Our pick – Summer Infant Pop and Sit Portable Booster
The Pop and Sit can accommodate little ones up to 37 pounds and can be used by itself or attached to a normal chair (using the included straps) so your baby can sit at the table with you.
The Pop and Sit has a BPA-free plastic tray that is removable and dishwasher safe. It also comes with a carrying case, making it easy to tote around.
A hand pump
This one is for the breastfeeding mums. If you’re currently nursing, a manual breast pump is an absolute must when traveling.
Hand pumps are small, quiet, and easy to use on the go. They don’t need to be plugged in like an electric pump and don’t require batteries, so they are a convenient way to express while traveling.
Even if you plan on packing your electric pump as well, packing a hand pump in your carry on or diaper bag is a good idea if you anticipate needing to express on the plane, in the car, at the airport, or while you’re out and about.
Our pick – Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump
There aren’t many parts which makes the pump quick to assemble and very easy to clean on the go or in a hotel room.
Most importantly it’s very effective, with some people even finding it more effective than using their electric breast pump. And when you’re travelling the last thing you want to be doing is sitting inside your room pumping.
Sterilizing tablets are a godsend when it comes to keeping your baby’s travel essentials clean and safe, especially if you’re camping or hiking during your trip. They can be used to sterilize just about anything, including:
- Breastfeeding equipment
- Feeding utensils
- Small toys
Sterilizing tablets dissolve in water and keep bottles and other items sterile for up to 24 hours. We’ve got a more detailed post on how to sterilize your baby gear while traveling.
Our pick – Milton Sterilising Tablets
They’re affordable, effective, and easy to pack (definitely way more compact and portable than traditional heat sterilizers)!
Once a day you can add two tablets to water and within 15 minutes it’s ready to add all your baby gear that needs sterilizing.
The water lasts for up to 24 hours and kills all bacteria, viruses, fungi and spores.
Essentials for entertaining and monitoring
Travel includes a lot of time waiting in lines, at train stations or airports, and waiting for any events you’re attending to start. You may also have long plain, train, or car rides.
Although you’re likely hoping your little one will sleep through some of this downtime (fingers crossed!), you’ll want to make sure you pack some lightweight, fun, and age appropriate entertainment options to ensure they don’t get bored and cranky if they aren’t able to nap.
You also may want to make sure you pack a baby monitor and any other gadgets you need to monitor your little one and help them get to sleep and/or stay happy and entertained.
A kids tablet
Few toys are lighter, more portable, and more versatile than tablets. While you can always let your little one play kids games on your smartphone, chances are you’ll need your phone for navigation, Internet, and communication during your trip, as well as to entertain yourself on long flights.
Tablets can provide endless hours of entertainment for kids, don’t create a mess, and can easily be packed in a carry on.
Kids tablets allow you to download kid-friendly games and apps and many have built-in parental controls so you can manage the content your child accesses.
You can save even more space in your carry on and avoid having to pack lots of bulky toys and books by downloading kids ebooks and videos for your trip. Good kids tablets for travel should be durable, have plenty of storage space, and have a long battery life.
Our pick – Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet
Our favorite tablet for your tiny travel partner is the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet, because it’s versatile, tough, and provides a ton of kid-friendly fun and entertainment. Here are some of our favorite features:
- The tablet comes with a free 1-year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited, which provides access to over 15,000 apps, games, books, and videos.
- A lightweight and durable kid-proof case is included, along with a 2-year warranty, so if you have an accident and the tablet breaks, it will be replaced free of charge.
- It comes with a kid-friendly browser and versatile parental controls that include up to four child profiles. If you have multiple kids of different ages, you can customize the content that each child is able to access. You can also set controls on screen time and apply a curfew after your child’s bedtime.
A pair of baby headphones
Traveling usually means you’ll be spending time around crowds and in noisy places. You’ll want to make sure you bring along a pair of headphones to use for your little one’s entertainment.
Headphones shut out unnecessary noise and prevent the sound of your child’s music, games, or videos from bothering other people around you.
It’s important to make sure your child’s ears are protected while they listen to music or stories, play games, or watch videos. When they’re wearing headphones, is easy to lose track of the volume, especially if they are able to control it themselves.
Baby headphones are specifically designed to fit your little one’s head and limit the maximum volume. Baby headphones are affordable, safe, and adorable. It’s definitely worth the peace of mind (and the peace and quiet!).
Our pick – JLab Audio JBuddies Kids Headphones
The small, kid-sized headband means the headphones will stay on your little one’s head, and they’re built to limit the maximum volume to 90 decibels.
The ear buds are also hypoallergenic, and the headphones come in a variety of cute colors!
A baby monitor
Whether you usually use a baby monitor at home or not, you may want to get one for traveling. If you’re staying at a resort or other accommodation with lots of amenities, having a baby monitor with you allows you to lounge by the pool or visit the hotel restaurant while your baby is sleeping.
Depending on where you’re going and how much money you’re looking to spend, an audio monitor may just do the trick; however, there are lots of good and relatively affordable video baby monitors that are ideal for traveling.
Being able keep an eye on your baby may just give you that little extra peace of mind while you’re baby naps away from home.
Your destination, lodgings, sleeping arrangements, and your baby’s temperament and level of separation anxiety are all important things to consider when looking for the right baby monitor.
For traveling, it’s important to find a monitor that’s reliable, has a long battery life for when you can’t find an outlet (this is especially true for camping), and has a good range, in case your baby’s crib is further from you than it would generally be at home.
Our pick – Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor
The Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor is our top pick for traveling parents. Although it’s a little on the pricier side, it’s super convenient because you can control it remotely. Here are a few of our favorite features:
- It has a camera lens with a customizable viewing angle and adjustable zoom.
- It comes with a 3.5 inch full color viewing display screen with sound.
- The monitor has a 6-hour on-screen battery life, and a 10-hour life on power-saving mode.
Other travel essentials
Here are a few other items you may want to consider bringing along with you to make your trip with your baby or toddler easier and more enjoyable:
A travel bathtub
If your baby is under 6 months, you may want to consider bringing a travel bathtub with you. It can be difficult to bathe kids this little in the sink, so bringing along a bathing device that sits inside the sink and cradles your baby while you wash them can be a great addition to your baby’s luggage.
The Puj Tub is a great option for traveling. It’s foldable and lightweight for easy packing and storage!
A change kit
Depending on where you’re going, a portable change kit (like this one from Skip Hop) can be indispensable when traveling with your little one. For example, if you’re going camping or planning a road trip, you won’t be able to rely on the campground or rest stop bathrooms to be clean or sanitary.
A backpack-style diaper bag
You may be used to carrying around a tote-style diaper bag, and while this can be great for everyday use, we recommend using a backpack-style diaper bag when you’re traveling.
This allows you to have two hands free while you’re at the airport and out and about exploring your destination.
This one from Bag Nation is great because it’s water resistant, has stroller straps, and comes with a changing mat and sundry bag.
Wet diaper bags
Wet diaper bags are great for storing wet and dirty diapers, clothes, and bibs. Bringing a few with you on your trip will make diaper handling so much easier.
This Planet Wise Diaper Bag is machine washable (no more Ziplocs!), and comes in three different sizes. It’s also sewn with hidden, sealed seams to hold in odors and prevent leaking.
Depending on the length of your trip and what you need to bring with you, you may not need to pack a separate suitcase for your baby. Consider buying some packing cubes to organize your bag and keep your and your baby’s items separate.
Alternatively, you can organize the cubes by activity. Bathaney, author of the Flashpacker Family, suggests packing everyone’s swimsuits in one cube and everyone’s pajamas in another. This makes getting ready for bed—or a day at the beach—much easier.
We recommend this set of four by Shacke. The Shacke Pak cubes are all different sizes, giving you tons of options, and you also get a laundry bag for storing dirty clothes.
A stroller bag
If you’re planning to check your stroller during your flight, it’s likely to get a little beat up during baggage handling. Consider investing in a good stroller bag to protect your stroller and keep all of your stroller accessories from falling off or getting lost.
The VolkGo Durable Stroller Bag is big enough to fit most double strollers and folds down into a much more manageable carry pouch when you’re not using it.
There’s nothing more frustrating than your little one’s blanket falling off the stroller and getting caught up in its wheels.
Stroller clips are awesome for attaching a blanket (and other items) to your baby’s stroller, whether you’re using it to protect them from the sun or to keep them warm and cozy while you walk around and explore your destination.
We love these sturdy clips by Dinky Ninky.
A nursing cover
If you’re currently breastfeeding, you may want to consider bringing along a nursing cover.
This infinity nursing scarf from Kiddo Care is awesome because it’s lightweight and doubles as a fashionable scarf, so you can wear it if you don’t have room in your carry on.
Nursing covers are great for breastfeeding on a plane, in the car, or any other time your little one is hungry while you’re out and about.
What not to bring
If you’re like me, chances are you’re worried about forgetting something important when you’re packing for a trip. It’s always good to be prepared and think of everything, but you also want to be sure not to overpack or bring bulky or inconvenient items you don’t need.
Below is a list of what not to bring on your adventure with your little one.
A bulky stroller
Although it’s tempting to bring your baby’s usual stroller, it’s probably best to resist that urge.
Most regular, non-travel strollers are bulky and heavy, making them tough to get in and out of a rental car and almost impossible to take with you on an airplane.
You don’t want to be trying to juggle your bags, luggage, loose items, your little one, and a heavy stroller while you travel, so leave the bulky or heavy strollers at home.
A bulky car seat
Like strollers, non-travel car seats tend to be heavy and awkward to lift or carry, especially if you’ve got a lot of luggage.
Car seats take up a lot of space, and will only be useful at specific times during your trip. Keep in mind that many rental car companies offer car seats as add-ons, or consider packing a travel car seat for long road trips. Check out this post for more tips on traveling with a car seat.
Heavy toys or books
Building blocks, toy trucks, and train sets are tons of fun for kids, but definitely not the best options to pack for travel entertainment. When making a list of toys, books, and other entertainment items for your adventure, keep bulky and heavy toys to a minimum to save space (and your back).
Consider bringing only lightweight toys and downloading your little one’s favorite stories as ebooks on a tablet or other lightweight gadget.
If you’re afraid your toddler will really miss a particular toy or book while traveling, you might also think about letting them choose one toy or book to bring along, and keeping all the rest as light and easy-to-carry as possible.
Although cloth diapers are a comfy, convenient, and eco-friendly option to use at home, they’re not the best or traveling.
Unless you’re staying with family or friends or are absolutely sure you’ll have access to a washing machine, it’s a good idea to skip the cloth diapers during your trip. They add a lot of extra work, and even if you will have access to laundry when you get to your destination, you won’t find a washing machine at the airport or on public transportation.
That’s why we recommend sticking to disposable diapers, at least while you’re traveling.
If you still want to travel with cloth diapers, this guide from dirtydiaperlaundry.com has some good advice on how to do it.
Too many diapers
Try not to overdo it on the diapers.
While you want to make sure you bring all the supplies you need, disposable diapers take up a lot of space. Try to estimate how many diaper changes your baby is likely to need each day during your trip, and then pack just a few extras.
After all, depending on your destination, chances are you can buy more when you arrive.
To sum it up
There you have it! I hope you found this list of travel essentials helpful. Feel free to share this article if you enjoyed it, and sound off in the comments below!
Share any thoughts or ideas, and be sure to mention any of your own tips and tricks you’ve picked up if you have experience traveling with little ones. Happy travels!