I call it the arsenal bag. And it is a must have for anyone flying with an infant. A well-prepared parent must be able to cover all bases when in the enclosed confines of an airplane cabin. Your fellow passengers will thank you.
So what is the arsenal bag? Well, just as any established military has an array of equipment, weapons, and tactics with which it can successfully handle any war-time situation and defeat an opponent, you must be equally prepared when traveling with a baby.
Here are some of my carry-on essentials.
- Diapers/wipes: Always travel with more diapers and wipes than you think may be necessary for the duration of your flight. You definitely don’t want to run out if there is an unexpected layover or flight cancellation.
- Formula/bottles (if not breastfeeding): Same rule applies. Always travel with more than you expect to need. Feeding on take off and landing will also help your baby with the pressure changes that can cause their ears to hurt.
- Snacks: Puffs, Cheerios, wafers, whatever your baby likes to snack on. Bring it. My baby constantly snacks on the plane. It distracts her and keeps her busy during the flight. I don’t typically let her have a lot of these foods when we are home because they lack nutritional value, but when we are traveling, I’m not as strict.
- Food pouches: Chances are if you are traveling with a baby older than 6 months, at least once during the flight or time in the airport, she will need to eat solids. Food pouches are much more convenient, especially when traveling solo with your baby. (The link above is a great deal I found on Amazon. It saves you about 50 cents a pouch.) My infant daughter can even hold the and suck the food out herself.
- Toys/books: I always pack a new toy that she’s never seen or played with before. The newness of the toy can often keep her short attention span much longer than one of her old toys that she won’t find as interesting. However, I also bring a few of her favorite toys from home, as well as a book or two. That way if she gets bored with her new toy she will have several more options available.
- Wet bag and change of clothes: Have you ever experienced a diaper blow out on a plane? We have. Luckily we had a wet bag and a fresh onesie so our baby didn’t have to spend the rest of the flight wearing her own poop or wearing nothing at all. You never know what could happen. Your baby could throw up, spit up, poop, or spill something. An extra outfit is a necessity. And the wet bag will prevent the nasty clothes from touching everything else in your carry-on.
- An extra shirt for you: Babies have a way of projecting their bodily fluids. So if any are released while in flight, there is a really good chance you and baby will need to change.
- Disinfectant wipes: Airports and planes are gross. You never quite realize that until you have a kid who wants to lick the window, chew on the laminated insert in the seat back pocket, or crawl around on the floor at the gate. I wipe down everything when we get in the plane and I wipe my daughters hands routinely while traveling.
- Medicine: I always travel with Infant Motrin or Tylenol and Little Remedies Gas Drops. I’ve actually never had to use them while we were traveling, but better to be safe than sorry.
- An iPad or tablet: Have a couple shows your baby likes stored on a tablet (Baby Einstein, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, etc.). The older your child gets, the more beneficial this will become.
- A comfort item from home: If your baby has a favorite blanket, stuffed animal or lovey, do not forget to bring it. This item will also help sleeping in an unfamiliar place feel a little more like home.
- A receiving blanket: Whether the plane is cold, or your baby wants to lay down or crawl in the airport floor, a blanket will come in handy.
- Of course, don’t forget your typical diaper bag essentials, including a travel diaper changing mat, nail clippers, a baby wash cloth, bib, spoon, pacifier (if your baby uses one), diaper rash cream, thermometer, Boogie Wipes, nursing pads (if nursing), etc…