What to Pack in Airplane Carry On for a Toddler

What to Pack in Airplane Carry On for a Toddler

What to pack in carry on bag for toddler

Let’s do this. I recently posted about my ULTIMATE packing list for international travel with a toddler. Now, I’m dedicating an entire post on what to bring on the AIRPLANE for your toddler. This can be a bit daunting the first couple times you fly with your toddler, so I hope this list is helpful. This list is derived from exactly what WE bring for Lennox when we fly. Let’s get into what to pack in an airplane carry on bag for a toddler.

A quick note

I hope this goes without saying, but you should absolutely adapt this list to the needs of your little one. Lennox is a young toddler so I imagine there will need to be some modifications to this list for an older toddler.

The carry on bag

We use Lennox’s everyday diaper bag AS his carry-on for the plane. This makes packing easier since we already keep many essential items in the diaper bag, such as a first aid kit. Our diaper bag is a backpack, which is awesome because it keeps our hands free at the airport. It has a ton of pockets and space for all his stuff. If you’re curious, we have this popular Amazon backpack diaper bag. It’s great, but it is on the larger side for diaper bags.

Airplane Carry On Packing List for Toddler

What to pack in airplane carry on for a toddler

  • Milk
    • How much? Twice as much as they would consume in that length of time on the plane. Because you never know if there will be a delay. And planes are dehydrating so they will drink more than normal. I can’t prove this, but this happens to us every time.
      • Bottles or sippy cup. 2-3 depending on the length of your flight.
      • Shelf stable milk boxes. (This keeps you free from having to worry about refrigeration).
      • Powder formula. (I’m a worry wart so I am paranoid about running out of milk. I always bring a little powder formula with me in case of an emergency when I have no more milk or it’s gone bad.)
        • I pack mine in this formula dispenser.
        • I also bring bottled water to mix with formula or for kiddo to drink.
  • Food
    • Pouches. Make sure they are less than 3.4oz each for TSA screening. I made this mistake the first time.
      • For short domestic flights I use pouches as Lennox’s “meal” and sometimes bring plain pasta or bread as well.
      • For transatlantic flights, you’ll likely be given food for your toddler and can supplement with pouches.
    • Snacks. A ridiculous amount of snacks. Teethers, rusks, crackers, a lollipop. There is no better remedy than a snack. And lollipops take forever to eat. (That’s a good thing!)
  • Toys
    • How many? A large handful. They will want to play with your water bottle and the tray table anyways.
      • 1 small cardboard book.
      • 1 plush buckle toy (bonus if it’s new)
      • A present. AKA a new toy they’ve never seen. This will keep them occupied the longest.
      • A small fidget or pop toy.
      • A sticker book, Water WOW book, or coloring book.
      • Your phone loaded with cartoons or educational games if all else fails.
      • Toddler headphones if you have them.
  • Changing
    • Diapers. Twice the amount they would normally use in that amount of time, just to be safe.
    • A couple disposable changing pads.
    • Wipes. Sanitizing wipes for messes and baby wipes for the booty.
    • Butt paste/ cream if needed.
    • An extra set of clothes and a light jacket if desired.
  • Safety
    • Tylenol for babies in case of an emergency.
    • A small first aid kit. (In fact, I always have this in my diaper bag.)
    • Saline and bulb- optional.
    • Any necessary medication.
  • Gear
    • Pacifiers. Multiple in case one falls under the seat. (This will help pop their ears during takeoff and landing.)
    • Light blanket to help kiddo sleep or to cover tray table.
    • Baby carrier- optional. If you think they will sleep in the carrier attached to your front while you’re sitting.
    • For an overnight flight, bring items you need to replicate your bedtime routine.
      • Sleep sack. Toothbrush and toothpaste. Lovey?
    • A few ziplock bags. These have endless uses.
    • A small towel to cleanup messes.
  • Sleeping
    • For domestic flights, kiddo is probably sitting on your lap.
      • Be sure to think about how they will sleep on the plane. Will they lay on your lap? Lay on the tray table? Cuddle in your arms? Lay on the floor? It’s good to think of a plan before your trip.
      • I recommend having them in a baby carrier strapped to your front and getting them to sleep that way if you can!
    • For international or longer flights, they may have their own seat.
      • Consider a travel car seat or inflatable bed for them to sit on. My review of the inflatable Flyaway Kids Bed is here.

Bonus: airport best practices

  1. Board the plane LAST. Let your kiddo run around and get all their energy out in the terminal and be the last group on the plane. No use sitting in your seat longer than you have to.
  2. Have kiddo wear layers on the plane. Planes can sometimes be HOT before they start the engine, or really COLD at high altitude.
    1. And try to dress them for easy diaper change access. (no overalls)
  3. Try to stick to your nap and bedtime routine as much as you can, even while on the plane.
  4. Consider wearing a fanny pack in the airport so you can quickly grab necessities like passport, snacks, or a credit card. It can be hard to take a backpack on and off when you’re rushing through an airport.

Was this helpful?

Was there an item I missed on the airplane carry on packing list for toddlers? Let me know!

Happy flying!


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