Travel Diaper Bag Packing List: baby cabin essentials for a flight!

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If you’re flying with a baby it’s important to bring a well packed diaper bag on board as cabin luggage which contains everything the baby might need during the flight. We took our baby, J, on his first flight at 8 weeks old – over 24 hours from Dublin to Addis Ababa to Cape town which included 16 hours on planes – and have packed his diaper bag for flying and travel more times than we can remember! This packing list includes everything we carry on board for J and is a lowdown of what we’d recommend to pack in your baby diaper bag to bring into the cabin for a flight. Happy travels!

Travel Essentials: our on board essentials

When travelling with J we bring our diaper bag and his stroller as cabin luggage on flights. Our stroller collapses down to cabin size and fits in the overhead bins meaning no lengthy waits at the door of the plan or walking to the luggage carousel to collect it. When we have room we also take his baby carrier and car seat on board. Here’s the on board essentials we use:

Diaper Bag

We use a backpack style baby bag for our travels as we find having our hands free and the baby bag on our back makes manouvering through the airport a lot easier. We opted for this Bebamour backpack: it’s large enough to hold everything, includes a changing pad, is easy to keep clean and has internal and external compartments which make it easy to find what we need – Check prices on Amazon!

Check prices on Amazon!

Our diaper bag in action! It looks great and is really practical

Travel stroller and baby carrier

  • Travel Stroller: It doesn’t fit in our diaper bag but we do bring our stroller onboard as cabin luggage! We use the BabyZen Yoyo+ which folds down to cabin size and is perfect for navigating the airport and most of our travel destinations. The stroller folds down to cabin size and has the option of a bassinet style fitting which was suitable for newborns. We love it! – check prices on Amazon!

Check prices on Amazon!

Read more about the Babyzen in our detailed Babyzen Yoyo review

Dave with the Babyzen on Robben Island in Cape Town!
  • Baby Carrier: we always pack a baby carrier for our travels and, at the moment, we use the ErgoBaby 360 which had the option of an infant insert. It’s convenient for walking J through the cabin if we have space in our hand luggage to pack it – check prices on Amazon!

Check prices on Amazon!

Baby Diaper Bag: what to pack

Our baby diaper bag is packed with everything J might need during a flight. Our backpack style bag holds quite a lot so it’s perfect for long and short haul flights. Here’s everything we pack in J’s diaper bag and what we recommend you consider packing as well:

The contents of our diaper bag

Diaper/Nappy Changes

Even on a short flight it’s inevitable that a baby will need a diaper change. We budgeted one nappy per 2 hours of travel and then added a few extras for those special, multiple diaper style toilet moments!!

  • A changing mat:  A portable, wipe clean changing mat is invaluable. It’s nice to have a clean surface to lay the baby down on and it also provides a little padding for the baby from the hard airplane surfaces. Most baby bags include a changing mat but, if not, pick up a separate travel mat check prices on Amazon!

Check prices on Amazon!

  • Slimline wet wipe dispenser: our Water Wipes come in packs of 60 which are a little bulky for toilet trips so we use a slimline wet wipe dispenser to store our water wipes –  Check prices on Amazon!

Check prices on Amazon!

  • Ziploc with nappies and wet wipes: squeezing into a tiny airplane bathroom with a baby and their changing essentials can take some manoeuvring so it helps to have a mini changing bag ready for the toilet visit with at least 2 diapers: you can put one  under the baby’s head for protection against the hard surface.
  • Ziploc with clean vest and baby gro
  • Spare Ziplocs: ziploc bags are super convenient for travel – we use them for storage, organising clothes and diaper storage and holding medicines that might spill. Stock up!

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2 | Feeding

Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, these items will help you survive a flight:

  • Muslin Cloths: I never understood why muslin cloths were an essential until our baby arrived! We use them for everything from burping to covering surfaces to protecting clothes during feeding. They pack up small so pack plenty for your flight – check prices on Amazon!

Check prices on Amazon!

If Breastfeeding:

Consider where you want to sit on board: window seats can offer a little extra privacy.

  • Pillow: feeding pillows can add comfort are a great addition for long haul flights especially if it helps your baby fall asleep – check prices on Amazon!

Check prices on Amazon!

  • Lightweight Nursing Scarf: if you would like some added privacy pack a lightweight nursing scarf which can be used for  – check prices on Amazon!

If formula feeding:

  • Sterilised bottles: bring enough sterilised bottles for the duration of the door to door travel based on how your baby is feeding in the lead up to the flight. Bottles can take up a lot of room in the baby bag so we recommend purchasing some smaller bottles for travel: most brands do a 5 ounce option which are great if your baby is still feeding 5 ounces or less. It’s best to stick with the brand and teat your baby is used to so check out these options:

Check prices on Amazon!

Feeding essentials

If you need a larger alternative, NUK do a great slimline bottle which is easier to pack – check prices on Amazon!

Check prices on Amazon!

  • Formula dispenser: a formula dispenser is invaluable when travelling with a formula fed baby. It saves time, is much less messy than measuring out formula on an airplane and fits neatly into a baby bag. Pack two of these 4 feed dispensers and an extra tub of formula in case of delays – check prices on Amazon!

Check prices on Amazon!

  • Flask of water: we follow the UK government and World Health Organisation recommendations to add baby formula to water that is 70 degrees Celsius or hotter. This 1.2litre Thermos flask is one of the best choices for a long haul flight as it keeps the water hot for a long time – check prices on Amazon!

Check prices on Amazon!

  • For long haul flights: supplement the larger flask with two of these slimline 1 liter flasks. They don’t maintain the temperature quite as well so use this water first – check prices on Amazon!

Check prices on Amazon!

Baby First Aid Kid

Airplane travel can be tough on babies so it’s important to have all your first aid essentials in the cabin. We carry a thermometer, J’s medicines and some extra syringes to give him medicine.

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  • Medicines: pack any medicines your baby uses regularly. We pack a paracetamol/acetaminophen based medicine and an ibuprofen based liquid medicine in case of fever, a nasal decongestant spray and some gripe water.
  • Extra syringes for baby medicines: it’s challenging to keep all the baby equipment sterile so we bring along a supply of extra syringes – check prices on Amazon!

4 | Extra Items

  • Multiple Pacifiers and covers: if you use a pacifier make sure to pack a supply as it’s impossible to keep them sterile on an airplane! Pacifier covers are a travel essential – we use this they attach to bags and prams and keep pacifiers sterile before use – check prices on Amazon!

Check prices on Amazon!

The diaper bag essentials
  • Hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes: when we first get on the plane we wipe down any surfaces with antibacterial wipes (like these) and again before feeds. We also use hand santitzer (like this one) to keep our own hands as clean as possible.
  • Baby Blanket: airplanes and airports can be freezing so pack a warm blanket to keep baby warm.
  • A toy and a book: a small toy and a book from home can be amusing and comforting during travels.
  • Spare clothes for you: a change of clothes for the carers is essential – smelling like baby milk/puke/poop for 24 hours is not desirable!!

If you’re travelling with an older baby here are some tips for flying with a toddler

|  For long haul flights

Long haul and connecting flights require some extra planning with a baby. Here are some tips we’ve learned from our travels.

  • Book a bassinet seat: travelling with a baby on your lap can be uncomfortable during a long haul flight and, for us, a bassinet is essential. Check with your airline as soon as you book your travel as bassinet seats can be limited in availability and are usually allocated on a first come first serve basis.
  • Bassinet essentials: We bring a moses basket sheet to cover the base of the bassinet and a Cozigo bassinet cover. We found the Cozigo amazing for helping J follow his normal sleeping pattern on board as it blocks out light and air conditioning. Some airlines don’t allow seat aids so make sure to check with your airline if you’re purchasing for a specific flight – check prices on Amazon!
Our Cozigo in action!

Check prices on Amazon!

  • If formula feeding bring a cold water steriliser: it can be difficult to find the packing space for enough bottles for a 24 hour trip or to budget for potential delays so a cold water sterilising system is invaluable. This Milton cold water steriliser is great for travel or cold water steriliser bags and Milton tablets also work a treat – check prices on Amazon!

So there you have it, our cabin essentials for flying with a baby. Any suggestions for additional items to include? Let us know in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Travel Diaper Bag Packing List: baby cabin essentials for a flight!”

  1. How did you pack the extra diapers for while not on the airplane? Did you use a big zip lock bag? Were you able to carry the box of diapers on the flight ?

    • Hi

      We just split the jumbo packs in half and packed them in our check in luggage – I find it you take them out of the original bag they explode in size! In the cabin, we just bring enough for the flight with extras for delays/incidents of course!

  2. Hi there!Do they let you take all these things in the diaper bad with you on the plane?Even the gripe water and paracetamol liquid?

    • Hi Eleni, you need to check the rules for the country you’re flying to/from but we’ve been able to take ours in our diaper bag without issue – it’s exempt from the liquid restrictions as it’s for a baby. It does sometimes get swabbed at security but we have no issue with that.

  3. This is SOOOOO helpful!

    I am heading home from australia to the UK in April and I am so thankful to have found this write up!

    Big big thanks!


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