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Airplane Travel with a Baby

By Elizabeth Pantley, author of Gentle Baby Care and The No-Cry Sleep Solution

Packing your carry-on

The right carry-on bag can be a lifesaver. Make sure that your bag is easy to lift or roll, and that it falls within the airline's size limitations. Pack an organized bag that carries:

  • Lots of diapers. Plan for an unexpected layover or delay.
  • A baby blanket, which is good for multiple uses.
  • A diaper-changing pad in case you end up changing your baby on the floor or on a dirty changing table.
  • Plenty of snacks. Often the only snacks on airplanes are peanuts, which are a major choking hazard for babies. Also, snacks are a great distraction for a bored or antsy child. Even if you've ordered a child's meal, it might show up when your child is asleep or isn't hungry, or your child may not like the menu. A few ideas for easy-to-tote snacks include:

    • Baby food
    • Dry cereal
    • Pretzels
    • Crackers
    • Bagels
    • Bread or rolls
    • Dried fruit
    • Lollipops

  • Drinks. Bring along favorites in a sippy cup, drink-box, or bottle. You may even want to pack these in a soft lunchbox cooler.

  • Infant pain reliever in case of ear pain or other discomfort. (But don't try anything new; make sure it's something your baby has tolerated well already.)

  • Lots of new toys, or old favorites that have been hidden for a few weeks. Avoid noisy toys that will annoy fellow passengers. Great travel toys include:

    • Crayons and a small pad or sticky notes
    • Stickers and sticker books (Sticker books have the advantage here; their stickers are reusable if stuck on their specially surfaced pages, whereas a sticker placed on paper is there for good - which is fine, too, but a sticker book prolongs the activity.)
    • Building toys like Legos TM or Duplos TM
    • Paperback books
    • Puppets
    • Tiny plastic animals, cars, or dolls
    • Playing cards (Go Fish or other games that feature interesting cards)
    • Tape or CD player with kid music or books on tape

  • Bib
  • Extra pacifiers, or your baby's lovey, special blanket, or toy
  • A book, magazine, or activity for you when baby is sleeping or playing, should you be lucky enough for that to occur!
  • A small medical kit with bandages
  • Wet wipes for diaper changes and cleaning baby's hands and face
  • Empty plastic bags for soiled diapers
  • If your baby uses a bottle, bring several. It's usually easier to take along premeasured powdered formula and small bottles of water for mixing.
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