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If you’re preparing to take a flight with your baby for the first time, you’re most likely (and understandably) overwhelmed.
First order of business: Breathe. You’ve totally got this.
In addition to the basics — diapers (lots of them), baby wipes, a few changes of clothes, and either a breastfeeding parent or bottles and milk — there are some key items you’ll want to have with you in your baby bag during your trip.
That’s why we’ve assembled this guide of first flight essentials — and a few nice-to-haves — to make your trip a little less, well, turbulent.
According to Elisa Song, MD, holistic pediatrician, the most important consideration to keep in mind when flying with your baby (aside from making friends with the strangers seated around you) is their developing immune system.
“The immune systems of babies under 3 months of age are much less capable of handling infections than older babies,” she says. “By the time babies are 6 to 9 months of age, their immune systems are starting to make their own antibodies (protection against viruses and bacteria), and are better able to manage infections.”
While it’s safe to fly with a baby of any age, she recommends waiting until your baby is at least 3 months old, which is after they’ve had their first set of immunizations.
For this list, we reached out to respected pediatricians to best understand the nutritional and medical needs of infants from the newborn phase to over 3 months of age.
We also reached out to parents to learn about the products they considered essential when flying with their young infant.
- $ = under $20
- $$ = $20–$50
- $$$ = $50–$100
- $$$$ = over $100
While planes have definitely upped their game in the sanitation department, Song still suggests wiping down seat buckles, armrests, seat buttons, tray table tops and bottoms, touchscreens, overhead lights and fans, and anything else your baby may touch.
These alcohol-free hand sanitizing wipes from Babyganics will do the trick.
A pack of pacis
Losing a pacifier can be dramatic on a good day, so when one hits the deck on an airplane, there’s no time to waste looking for it on the floor (and cleaning the pretzel crumbs off of it… ew).
That’s why having a couple of pacis on hand is key. This set of 3 silicone pacifiers from Dr. Brown’s are safe for infants and easy on the wallet.
A small, packable blanket
Planes can get cold, so it doesn’t hurt to bring a lightweight blanket to cover you and your baby while nursing or napping. “This can help them sleep and not be disturbed by the lights or people milling around,” says Song.
A new (cheap) toy they can explore
A brand new toy can be a great distraction when your little one begins to get restless. Lamaze has an entire line of brightly colored, infant-safe toys that have plenty of textures and crinkly sounds to explore.
The best part? They’re all relatively inexpensive so you won’t be too bummed if you forget it on the plane.
A packable changing pad
If your diaper bag doesn’t already include one, this compact changing pad from Munchkin is perfect for sliding into your carry-on bag for use in the airport bathroom.
Measuring 11 by 8.5 inches, it easily stores wipes, 4 diapers, and has an additional zip pocket for diaper cream.
A baby-wearing device
A travel stroller
Renting a stroller at your final destination is always an option. But if you’re planning on flying regularly with your baby, owning a compact travel stroller might be a worthy investment.
This one, from Bugaboo, is designed to carry you through the infant and toddler years (accommodating up to 50 lbs) so you’re sure to get your money’s worth. It’s super lightweight, clocking in at just 15.8 lbs, and folds up easily so that you can use it as a carry-on.
A car seat protector bag
Before the flight, you’ll be checking your car seat at the gate and won’t be able to follow exactly where it goes (or what it bangs into).
To protect your car seat’s features and to keep it clean, it’s smart to travel with a car seat travel bag. This one is fully padded so that your car seat is protected should it experience any impact.
A carry-all diaper backpack
There’s a reason a diaper bag is one of the first things people tell you to register for — it packs everything you need to care for your baby on the go. While in the airport, it’s best to have a diaper bag that sits on your back, making it easier to hold your baby and whatever else you’ve got in your hands.
This diaper bag from UPPAbaby comes with a changing pad, insulated bottle pockets, and stroller attachment straps.
A baby bottle cooler
If you’re bottle-feeding your baby, you’ll absolutely need to travel with a cooler to store the goods on the go.
This one has an airtight design and 3-layer insulated lining that will keep bags and bottles of milk cold for hours. Plus, the strap easily attaches to a diaper bag or your stroller so you don’t have to worry about carrying it separately.
If you’ve ever scrambled through your suitcase searching for certain items you’re sure you packed but can’t find, just imagine that item being super important for your baby.
Packing cubes, like these from AmazonBasics, can streamline the packing process by separating certain items — like onesies and baby socks — so that you have easy access to them.
When flying with your baby, prioritize the essentials to make your life a little easier. With the right tools, your baby’s first flight might even be — dare we say — fun.
For further guidance, be sure to check out our list of additional tips for flying with your little for the first time. And remember: You’ve got this!