What to Pack for Vacation With Your Baby

Family packing car for trip
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Taking a family vacation with an infant can be a challenge. Babies need a lot of gear and packing up everything they need for their comfort—and survival—can seem overwhelming.

For such tiny people, they sure take up a lot of packing space. In addition to the day-to-day items you keep in the diaper bag, babies will also need extra changes of clean clothes, diapers, bottles and formula, medicines (just in case), toys, and everything they need to sleep at night.

Exactly what you will need to pack will depend on how you are traveling, where you will be staying, and how long you will be gone. Visiting family (and having access to a laundry room) will be different than staying at a remote island resort. Flying to your destination will present different challenges than driving.

The good news is almost every destination has a grocery store where you can stock up on daily items like diapers and formula once you arrive. If you are staying with family, you may be able to borrow some bulkier items, like a pack 'n play, from a friend or neighbor.

Here's a checklist of what you will need to pack, where to pack them, and some ideas to make it easier.

Carry-On Diaper Bag 

If you are flying, your diaper bag will need to go through TSA screening, so be mindful not to pack any contraband and to keep your liquids in a plastic bag near the top of the carry-on. 

  • Diapers: Pack one diaper for every hour of expected travel time plus one or two extras. If you are flying, be prepared for at least one blow-out mid-flight. 
  • Wipes: Keep a small package of wipes with a flip-top lid in your carry-on. If you already have a pack in your diaper bag, make sure there are enough wipes and that they are still moist. 
  • Diaper changing pad: You'll be changing lots of diapers on the go in public restrooms on vacation, so be sure the portable changing pad is in the diaper bag.
  • Formula or breast milk: The TSA allows formula, breastmilk, and juice for children in reasonable quantities. Keep all liquids separate in a plastic bag so you can remove them from your carry-on for screening. Bring as many servings as the baby would typically need during your travel time, plus three or four extra in case of delays. Powdered formula is easiest for travel can be measured out in advance for convenience. 
  • Bottles and nipples: Carry at least two bottles with you along with extra nipples.
  • Baby food and spoons: If your child has started eating solids, pack enough in the carry-on for as many meals as she will need during travel time, plus one extra meal in case of delays. Choose shelf-stable items that do not need to be refrigerated and don't forget the spoons. 
  • Blankets: Bring a total of two or three blankets—one or two on the baby and a spare in the bag.
  • The lovey: If your child has a comfort item, like a blanket, stuffed animal, or toy, make sure you pack it in the diaper bag. 
  • Bibs: If your child wears bibs, pack at least two in the carry-on.
  • Toys: If the baby is at the age where she needs to be entertained, pack a few books and quiet toys.
  • Hand sanitizer: For TSA, hand-sanitizer containers need to be 3.4 ounces or smaller. Remember to keep this item in a separate zip-top bag for TSA screening.
  • Clothes: Pack two outfits separately in gallon-size storage bags that you can put the soiled clothes into after changing.
  • Pacifiers: If your baby uses pacifiers throughout the day, pack at least two extras as your likely to lose at least one en route. 
  • Medicines: Small children have an uncanny knack for getting sick while traveling. Be sure to pack pain reliever, fever reducer, ear drops, gas drops, thermometer, and a first-aid kit. And remember to store any liquids in a plastic bag for TSA screening.
  • Gallon-size storage bags: Pack at least three in the diaper bag. Use them for wet/dirty clothes or for used diapers when you don't have another way to dispose of them.

​Luggage

Even though their clothes are tiny, babies can still take up their own suitcase with their daily needs. If you are flying, check your airline's rules for the number of suitcases your family can bring along. Here's a list of what you need.

  • Clothes: The number of outfits you'll need will depend on how often your baby goes through clothes and if you have access to laundry facilities. Pack at least one outfit for each day plus three extra, as well as at least two pairs of pajamas. ​​
  • Diapers: While you can buy additional diapers at your destination (check online before your trip to find out what stores will be nearby), pack at least 10 more diapers in the suitcase to ensure you have enough before you'll have time to run out to the store. 
  • Wipes: You can buy more once you arrive, but be sure you have enough for the first 24 hours of your trip. A wipes package that is at least half full should go in your suitcase.
  • Formula: Pack enough formula for the first 24 to 48 hours of your trip. You can purchase additional formula at your destination.
  • Bottles, nipples and bottle brush: If your vacation will be packed with activities and you plan to be on the go, make sure you have enough clean bottles and nipples, including the ones in the diaper bag, for one day. And don't forget the bottle brush for cleaning. 
  • Baby food and spoons: If your baby has moved up to solids, pack enough food for the first 24 to 48 hours of your trip in your suitcase, and plan to buy more at your destination. Bring at least three spoons with you. 
  • Blankets: Pack two additional blankets.
  • Toiletries: You'll need everything for bath time. Pack baby soap, baby shampoo, ear swabs, nail clippers, diaper rash ointment, and baby lotion in gallon-size resealable bags.
  • Bibs: Pack two to three additional bibs. Bibs are items that can be washed in the sink and hung to dry once you reach your destination.
  • Extra bag: You may want to pack a smaller bag to use as a diaper bag on the go.  

Equipment

Whether you are driving to your destination or flying there, there is plenty of equipment you may need on the trip. Here are items to consider.  

  • Car seat: While you can rent car seats where ever you rent your car, it may be better to bring your baby's seat on the trip since you know it is familiar and safe. During the flight, most parents choose to carry the baby on their lap because it is free. But if you choose to buy a seat for baby to use, make sure your car seat is FAA-approved and check your airline for guidelines. If you are checking the car seat, most airlines allow it to be checked in with luggage and do not count it as an extra bag. You may want to buy or borrow a car seat cover to protect it.  
  • Stroller: You'll want to bring a sturdy, collapsible stroller that is less than 20 pounds. Even though umbrella strollers are lightweight and portable, they may not withstand the wear and tear of a busy vacation, may not be as comfortable for your child, and can be hard to steer through crowds. If you are flying, you should be able to check the stroller at the gate. If you are traveling to a theme park. like Disney World, consider renting a sturdy stroller at the park.
  • Crib or Pack 'n Play: You will need a place for baby to sleep safely. Fortunately, many hotels and resorts offer cribs and pack 'n plays at no additional cost as part of your room rental. If you are staying at someone's home, you may be able to either rent or borrow what you need.
  • Baby carrier: If your baby prefers to be worn or carried, remember to pack a carrier or sling. Check with your airline to see if you will be allowed to baby-wear during the flight. 
  • Breast pump: Breastfeeding moms may want to bring a breast pump in case you're unable to nurse and need to relieve the pressure of full breasts while maintaining your milk supply.
  • Baby monitor: If the baby is sleeping in a separate room, you will likely want to bring the baby monitor and receivers. 
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