This is a guide of essential stuff that I recommend having in a diaper bag, let’s say for a 15 + hour international journey. Baby will get, with the majority of U.S. and other international carriers I have flown on, his/her own carry-on bag.
1) Make sure to include essential travel documents that you carry along with you at all times including: 1) baby’s passport; 2) a copy of baby’s birth certificate; and 3) copy of baby’s health and vaccination records.
2) Of course, the diaper bag/ carry-on itself is a critical item. It should be comfortable to carry around the airport and at stop-overs, be easily accessible, and have enough room for the essentials that baby needs for the long haul. I find anything that goes over only one shoulder very uncomfortable and cumbersome for airport travel, and tiring having all the weight on one shoulder. I prefer a well-organized back-pack style diaper bag– baby on the front, bag on the back.
I have also finally streamlined my own carry-on with baby’s, meaning that I pack all of my carry-on items such as a change of clothes and my lap top in baby’s diaper bag. Especially when I have traveled alone with baby, it helps to lighten the load and to only have a baby and one bag to keep track of, keep organized, and haul into airports, planes, bathrooms, etc.
3) Approximately 3 extra baby outfits (opt for long-sleeve footed one-piece outfits that are easy to get in and out of and will keep baby warm). If you’re baby is at an age where he/she is especially spit-up prone, or you know you’ll need more than 3 outfits over the span of 10-20 hours, or however long your travel is, than pack as many outfits as you’ll think you’ll need plus 1-2 extra. Also consider carrying a couple of extra-small size compression sacks to save space, one for clean changes of clothes, and an empty one to put dirty clothes and rags.
4) Approximately 10-15 disposable diapers & small pack of disposable wipes (number depends on age of baby and frequency of changes needed) for a long 10+ hour journey.
5) Approximately 2-3 spit rags/ receiving blankets for general clean-up/ extra diaper changing space.
6) Approximately 3-4 of baby’s favorite toys (rattles, books, animals depending on baby’s age and preferences). Baby will need entertainment, but don’t overdo it, especially if you are flying at night and baby will spend much of the time sleeping. If baby is older or of toddler age, consider having a separate small backpack they can have, hold, and help pack with all their fun stuff.
8) 2-3 packets of squeezable baby food (if baby is 6 months+ and eating solids), 1 sippy cup to be filled with water/ juice for older babies, and other travel-friendly finger foods such as crackers or a banana that can be purchased in the airport.
9) 2-4 wet bags for dirty diapers, clothes, or rags (or zip lock bags), which can be put into a compression sack to keep it compact.
10) If you use formula, bring bottles with pre-measured amounts of formula. You can buy bottled water and get bottled water on the plane to avoid having issues at security.
11) If you need to bring a small stock of pumped breast milk if you need to leave baby for work once arriving at the destination, you can bring breast milk through security in a storage cooler with ice pack (my Medela breast pump came with both). I have brought 4 bottles with 5 oz of breast milk in each and just show them at airport security and let them know it’s breast milk for baby. They take it, quickly test the bottles (without opening), and return it to me without question/ problem (do NOT send it through the screening belt).
12) Travel-size baby toiletries and medicines (diaper rash cream, baby fever reducer, gripe water for gas relief, teething relief, and any prescribed medications by your pediatrician or travel clinic). Make sure to put all liquids together in a clear plastic bag that you can easily pull out at airport security. I like to use a sturdy, reusable bag to keep all of the liquids organized in the carry-on. I use one for baby’s liquid items, as well as one for my own liquid cosmetics, both of which go in an easily accessible pocket of the diaper bag. If you have any prescribed liquid meds over 3.4 oz this is allowed, just declare this to an officer when you get to the belt/ metal detector in the security line.
13) An ipod and mini traveler speaker (yes, music is essential and portable for long hauls– I have Veda’s favorite music, anything by Elizabeth Mitchell or Frances England, stored in my ipod, and this little speaker is amazingly portable and tiny and can be charged through a laptop/ computer with no batteries)
14) Baby shoes if baby is walking to keep feet protected during airport romps (I really like the PediPed brand because they’re cute, comfy, and stay on). Even when baby was young, I skipped socks that could easily fall off, instead opting for outfits with footies.
15) A reliable point-and-shoot camera to capture all of journey’s moments.
If it is a shorter flight (under 5 hours) you may wish to consider bringing 2-3 cloth diapers and 4-5 cloth wipes with diaper spray to replace the disposable diapers and wipes.