The whole point of this blog and many other family travel blogs is to show you that you don’t need to stop traveling just because you had a baby. In fact, baby’s first year is an excellent time to travel (we speak from experience!).
The only daunting factor is the number of items a baby needs. How do you take half of the stuff on your baby registry with you on a trip? Obviously, you don’t!
That’s where this Travel Essentials: Baby’s first year article comes into play. We will hand you a list of items compiled by ourselves and other family travel parents that we deem necessary for traveling with a baby.
We are aware that not everyone considers the same things to be indispensable, that’s why we don’t want you to look at this list as an obligation to add every single one of the baby travel accessories to your Amazon shopping cart. Every item can be essential for someone but it doesn’t have to be for you.
TRAVEL ESSENTIALS BABY: TRANSPORT
Traveling with babies can be a bit daunting, but having the right gear can make all the difference. One of my favorite items is a soft structured baby carrier such as an Ergo, Tula or Kinderpack.
These carriers are easy to roll up and store in a backpack or clipped onto your back when not in use. Then when your little one is ready for a nap or needs a ride, you can easily toss them into the carrier, snuggle them in and off you go to explore!
We used our carriers at home as well as when we were traveling. They are perfect for inside airports, on public transportation and when exploring a city that doesn’t lend well to strollers. The carriers all have multiple adjustments points and can often be shared between two adults when someone needs a break from carrying the little one.
The carriers can also be used from infants up until preschool aged (both the Tula and Kinderpack carriers).
Want to read more gear that we recommend with kids? Head over to our blog!
Written by Chelsea from Pack More into Life
TIP: not quite sure which baby carrier is the right one for you? Check out our extensive articles on babywearing:
- Babywearing from newborn to preschool: the complete guide to the best travel baby carrier
- The best baby carrier for hot weather
- The best waterproof baby carrier
- Babywearing in winter: covers, coats and hoodies
If you are up for a bit more of an adventure, make sure to swap your baby carrier for a more outdoor-sy equivalent!
We are an outdoorsy family and a hiking baby carrier is essential for our travels. Strollers are great for parks and for short walks, but if you want to spend several hours hiking with your baby, the only convenient way to do is using an ergonomic hiking carrier.
This way you have two free hands for taking photos or just holding hands with your partner, and neither rougher terrains nor stairs are a problem to pass. The young ones can observe the surrounding much better from your back than from a stroller, so it is easier to keep them occupied for longer periods of time. They also enjoy being carried and close to you, so it’s a double win!
This useful item made it possible for us to hike to glaciers, volcanos, and picturesque lakes in the mountains in numerous countries. A weekend trip or weeks-long holidays? We pack it for every trip.
Written by Katalin from Our Life Our Travel
One of our favorite pieces of gear for traveling with a baby was our travel system. If you aren’t familiar, a travel system is an infant car seat and stroller that can click together. The advantage is that if your baby falls asleep in the car or on a flight, you don’t have to remove her to transfer to a separate stroller.
It was perfect for traveling (as well as use around town) because we didn’t have to worry about strict bedtime or time zone changes while on vacation. For example, when we took our son to Hawaii at 3 months old, he would fall asleep on our drive to dinner (6pm locally, but 8pm back home). We could just clip his car seat into the stroller and sit back for a nice quiet dinner!
There are many different travel systems available to suit different needs. Find the best one for you here.
Written by Melissa from My Travel Strollers
Lightweight Travel Stroller
If your baby is not tiny anymore, you could use a travel stroller instead of a travel system.
One of our baby travel essentials is to take a compact travel stroller with us. Whilst we love our baby carrier, there comes a point when your back needs a rest and your baby has had enough of being cooped up. This is where a travel stroller can be a lifesaver, giving you the chance to explore at your own pace.
A travel stroller will come in handy throughout your trip. From getting through the airport to sightseeing at your destination and even changing a nappy on the go, you will definitely appreciate having somewhere to put your baby down that you know is clean, comfy and portable.
There will be no need to put the holiday on hold while your baby naps. Let them sleep in the stroller and enjoy some fresh air while you explore new places.
When we first travelled with a baby we took a full-size stroller and it was such hard work to have to haul it around with us on and off the buses and trains.
We now know better and have discovered that there are some amazing travel strollers that are as good as full sized ones, just in a nice tiny package. Many of these have newborn setups so you can take them exploring with you from a very young age!
Written by Chris from More Life in your Days
TIP: find out more about the best baby travel strollers in this article!
If you are up for a bit more of an adventure, make sure to swap your travel system or travel stroller by their more outdoor-sy equivalent!
We do a lot of outdoor and national park travel, so our off-road stroller is one of our favorite baby travel essentials!
Its large rubber tires make it great for hiking, and we’ve been able to use it on a surprising number of park trails. It recently got us through some awesome hikes at Yosemite, Big Sur, and the Grand Canyon.
I’ll be honest, they’re a little bulky to travel with. But if your travel itinerary includes taking baby off-the-beaten-path, an all-terrain stroller is a must.
They can tackle rocky, uneven trails like a breeze, and the suspension keeps baby comfy while bouncing over all those bumps. They’re also versatile enough for urban exploration, unlike your average travel stroller which probably wouldn’t be sturdy enough to go from city streets to no streets.
We promised ourselves that we’d keep traveling to the parks after baby came along, and our outdoor stroller has made it easy to keep that promise!
Written by Mary Beth from a Reluctant Mom.
Travel Car Seat
One of the most indispensable travel items for trips with babies is a portable car seat for travel.
We’ve travelled a lot with our kids when they were young and bringing along the car seat always makes traveling with young babies a breeze.
We typically bring our Maxi Cosi bucket seat as this car seat is super lightweight, easy to buckle in with a regular seatbelt, approved for the airplane, and fits onto our Uppababy Vista stroller.
Although we don’t typically buy a seat for our infants under 2, we have had a few occasions where we were able to score an extra seat on the plane and brought our car seat on with us. Being hands free while baby slept quietly on the plane was an amazing feeling indeed! A travel car seat is not to be missed on a trip with a baby, don’t leave yours at home!
Written by Kate from Tear Free Travel
Car Seat Cart
The car seat cart is the travel item we never leave without when traveling with a baby.
The cart is made of lightweight plastic and folds into a square that easily fits in carry-on luggage. When unfolded it has a buckle similar to an airplane seat belt to secure the car seat to the cart. Once the car seat is attached, the child can be strapped in and pulled like roller board luggage.
This makes it super easy for us to travel all the way to the gate with the car seat without having to carry it. It also allows our convertible car seat to replace a big stroller.
The cart is readily available on Amazon and is a basic design that fits all convertible car seats. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about finding one that is specific to your car seat brand. This cart is definitely an indispensable part of our baby travel gear.
Written by Lauren from My Favorite Jobtitle is Mom
TIP: if you’ve got a toddler in the house as well, check out our essentials for flying with a toddler!
BABY TRAVEL ESSENTIALS: SLEEPING
Baby Lounger for Co-Sleeping
Babies need the comfort of their own bed. When they are traveling and need to sleep in a new, foreign crib or bed, they may feel anxious and therefore not able to sleep as well.
DockATot to the rescue! The DockATot is a baby lounger that you can use as a co-sleeper for your baby. The rounded sides create a barrier between your baby and the parents so that you can sleep with your baby peacefully in your bed.
The DockATot is designed so that the baby feels snug and cuddled while sleeping, which often times allow the baby to sleep better and longer.
For traveling, you can simply get a travel bag for the DockATot and bring it with you as part of your luggage. With the DockATot, your baby can sleep anywhere and still feel the comfort of home.
Having your baby sleep well while traveling can make a huge difference in your experience since you can feel energetic and awake while exploring the sights! Plus, you can also use it as a changing pad and activity gym (with a few extra accessories).
Written by Betty from MomBrite
TIP: read more about the best travel baby cribs for newborns here
Portable Travel Cot
If you don’t like to co-sleep with your baby, a travel bassinet or cot is the perfect – and well, let’s face it, only – solution.
When travelling with a large family, the most useful travel accessory we have found is the pop up travel cot, many places state that a cot is included, but you can never be sure if it will be suitable for your child, therefore taking your own with you guarantee’s a good night’s sleep for both you and your baby.
I love the pop up travel cot because it is so light and folds away so small it can easily be stored within your suitcase and when you reach your destination, just take it out of the bag and there you have it: the perfect place for your little one to sleep.
Because they are quite compact they are probably only suitable when your baby is small, and unable to roll over, we found it perfect when we went camping and one of the children were small.
Written by Mandi from Big Family Small Adventures
White Noise Machine
There is one item which I would class as a baby travel essential and that is a white noise item. And our product of choice was Ewan the Dream Sheep.
Made and sold by Sweet Dreamers, Ewan became a member of our family when our son was one month old in a bid to help him nap better during the day.
Ewan the Dream Sheep is a cute little sheep which has a built-in white noise machine which can play four different sounds including a soothing harp. He has two volume settings and two play length settings. He also has a built-in night light and his Velcro tail allows him to be attached to a cot bar or stroller arm.
Because he became a firm part of our nap and bedtime routine, Ewan also became a travel essential when we took off with our son. He has travelled to Slovenia, New York and Ireland among many places, and we only stopped using him after our son turned four.
He ensured our son was able to drift off to sleep in new surroundings without any hassle and soothed him back to sleep if he woke during the night.
There is now a new Deluxe version which is machine-washable, something we could have done with. We can highly recommend an Ewan the Dream Sheep for travelling with your little ones.
Written by Cath From Passports and Adventures
Dark Sheet (with suction cups)
Traveling with a baby requires packing so many items. One item that many families don’t think to pack that is a must-have for a family vacation is a dark sheet!
A dark bedsheet is a HUGE help when traveling. When driving in the car it’s perfect to help to block the sunlight coming in from the windows to allow baby to sleep.
When staying in a hotel room the dark sheet can be rigged up to cover the window to allow for a blackout curtain so baby can sleep and get the rest he or she needs in order to be happy and content for the family vacation.
We always pack a dark-colored bedsheet (ours is red) along with some thumb tacks so we can easily tack up the sheet to make it a curtain when traveling with our young children.
Keeping baby on a schedule and ensuring their ability to sleep on-the-go is crucial for a successful family vacation!
Written by Emily from Journey of Parenthood, make sure to read her article on whether you should travel with an infant or not.
Baby’s favorite Soft Toy/Blanket
From past experience my first recommendation for packing as a baby travel essential is baby’s favourite blanket or soft toy that they can’t sleep without. Leaving this behind can be disastrous!
On my daughter’s first trip away – which was luckily only a couple of hours away from home – she was very unsettled and grizzily in the car but we just thought it was the car trip that was unsettling her. Later that night at our destination she continued being very upset and unsettled, and crying a lot which she doesn’t normally do. We then realised our rookie error, we had forgotten to pack her favourite blankie that she always cuddled when sleeping.
Luckily for us my brother was joining us the next day and was able to bring the missing blankie with him ensuring a peaceful night’s sleep for baby, us and our neighbouring holidayers from our second night onwards. We learnt quickly from this mistake and ever since then, the favourite blankie has been the first thing listed on our packing lists!
Written by Ingrid from Fabulous and Fun Life
TRAVEL BABY ESSENTIALS: EATING
Portable High Chair
You may be debating whether a travel highchair is really an essential piece of travel equipment, but if your kids are as messy and wriggly as mine, then it definitely is. It is hard enough to feed a baby in a new environment, but if they are sitting on your knee, can’t see you, and you’re trying to spoon feed them, it is pretty hard to keep clean, and calm.
This is where the Phil and Teds lobster saves the day. This travel high chair is super compact. I actually keep it under the passenger seat in the car and it is pretty lightweight. It has two “claws” that clamp onto any surface that has a decent flat overhang. The most common place we use it is at playgrounds or camping spots, attached to a picnic table. It will also work in restaurants (with the right tables) and kitchen benches at your Air BnB.
Safety straps will hold them in, but I love how deep the sides are. There is no chance of a baby wriggling out of this high chair. It is easy to clamp on and off, and if you give it a push, it is as solid as a rock.
Save the mess, make sure you can be handsfree while eating or cooking and know your baby is safe in this great kiwi invention.
Written by Jennifer from Backyard Travel Family
TIP: Want to know what the best portable high chair for your family is? Read our extensive article on the best travel high chair here.
Home Made Baby Food
One among my most essential items when travelling with a baby is: home made baby food.
Babies have sensitive digestive systems, and it is risky to expose them to new food stuffs abruptly. It is a good idea to carry one day’s supply of home made baby food every day you travel.
Items that can be carried along while travelling with a baby (include the ones that are appropriate for your baby’s age):
- cooked rice/ rice balls
- pureed fruits/ cooked vegetables like apples, carrots, beetroot, sweet potato, peaches, green peas
- any kind of porridge/ cereal/ cooked legumes
- finger foods like cooked potato/ carrot/ cucumber sticks, meatballs, hard boiled and chopped eggs, chopped ripe fruits like apples, mangoes, strawberries, watermelon, nuts and dry fruits
- soft whole wheat pancakes in different flavours
- formula milk
Do keep in mind your baby’s food allergies, if any. Also stick to the tried and tested food items only. Do not try to introduce a new food item while travelling with baby.
Make sure to carry insulated containers to keep the food hot/ frozen until use, and enough serve-ware.
Written by Leeba from Superwoman Tales
Inflatable Nursing Pillow
Breastfeeding is a brilliant solution when traveling. The most significant advantage of breastfeeding is that you do not need any specific accessories, only those that will make your journey pleasant and more comfortable.
At home, I always use the feeding pillow, and this is one of my favorite baby essentials.
Fortunately, inflatable feeding pillows were invented, which makes me feel even more comfortable when traveling. I am sure that I maintain a proper feeding position, and my little fellow feels safe and cozy as well.
The main benefits of inflatable feeding pillow are that it is light, compact, and does not take up much space in our backpacks, as it has the size of a small book! Our favorite inflatable feeding pillow has a removable slipcover, so it is gentle for our son’s skin and easy to clean. Of course, we make sure that our gadget meets all safety regulations, is easy to use and good quality.
Written by Marta from Backpackers WRO
TIP: take a look at this article if you’re interested in more breastfeeding essentials when travelling!
TRAVEL GEAR BABY: BATHING & CARING
Backpack Diaper Bag
We travelled a lot when my daughter was a baby and the one thing that made things so much easier was keeping my hands free the majority of the time. The thing that helped me with this the most? A backpack style nappy bag!
The usual, messenger style, nappy bag was so difficult to carry around, I was constantly having to adjust it and the strain it caused on one shoulder was immense. So, I switched to a backpack style nappy bag and I’ve never looked back.
As well as keeping both hands free to care for baby, backpack nappy bags usually have a ton of different shape and size pockets and compartments so keeping all that baby gear organised is a breeze.
The biggest benefit to me was the fact that the weight is distributed evenly across your back, so there is no shoulder pain or constant moving of the bag to get comfortable!
Written by Sophie Marie from Lifestyle Queensland – read her full guide to backpack nappy bags here
At least 1 extra set of clothes in your nappy bag
When you’re traveling with babies, disasters are imminent, no matter how careful you are at feeding hours or letting them play. They may even find a water pond on the street and decide that crawling on it is the perfect game.
At any minute there may be an explosion of food, diaper, crying and many others. Protecting yourself against any eventuality is practically impossible, but there are always some tips to make the solution more bearable.
One of my favorites is to never leave your accommodation without a complete change of clothes for your baby, it can even be more than a complete change if you are going to be too many hours away without a return option. You will not use much space in your bag and you can leave them in the stroller until it is necessary.
Of course, it is important to include in this pack of clothes a disposable or washable bag to leave the clothes that have been spoiled there, keeping odors and dirt separated from the rest of your belongings.
Written by Ale from Universo Viajero
First Aid Kit
Whenever we travel to different places, we are always ensuring that we have one of our most essential items with us, a first aid kit. Traveling with two young kids almost always ensures some types of an issue that requires items in a first aid kit. My kids love to play outside and run around, but things happen and someone will trip or run into wild weeds. This is when our first aid kit comes into play.
First aid kits can easily be purchased; however, we like to make our own and throw it in our diaper backpack when we travel. In our first aid kit we typically put in general items such as band aids, vitamin E ointment, thermometer, allergy medication, alcohol wipes and sanitizer, as well as specific items for allergic reactions, fevers, inflammation, and burns.
There will be places that will not have these items readily available or families may find themselves in locations far away from any store or pharmacy. Going out into the wilderness, camping, safaris, boating and other activities where first aid may not be available. Having your own first aid kit is essential, as a few simply items can make a big difference when traveling with kids.
Written by Diana from The Elusive Family
Baby wipes are the most important item I always pack when traveling with kids. They come in super handy especially in buses, trains or flights to clean the surface before you seat your kids.
In airplanes, when you change diapers for the little ones in the bathroom, wipe down the changing table before placing the baby with the changing mat.
On road trips, when the kids are done with their snacks, pass them a wipe to clean their hands and their seat. This helps in keeping the mess in the car and sticky car seats and sticky toys at the minimum.
Wipes help clean up the toys and pacifiers that inevitably fall when you are out and about. Having baby wipes in a plastic bottle or travel size pouches makes it easy for dispensing. All the supermarkets like Walmart carry these small travel wipe pouches in the personal care section.
Written by Priyadarshini who can give you more family travel tips
This might seem like a little early for baby’s first year, but as we are big supporters of Baby Elimination Communication, I felt that it did belong in this list. Ever since our daughter was 9 weeks old, we integrated listening to her signs about needing to go to the toilet into our daily lives. It was all about communication, but not having to do ‘regular’ potty training was a big plus! She stopped wearing diapers at the age of 10 months and we were accident-free by 1,5 during the day and 2 at night. We used the Potette for a long time ourselves, both at home and while traveling.
The Potette travel kid potty was invaluable when the boys were toilet training. When a toddler needs to go, he needs to go NOW. Keeping the Potette in our backpack saved us more than a few times.
The Potette folds up really small in its carry sack and comes with little disposable bags. It’s like throwing away a dog poo bag. Ew, I know. But hey, #parentlife. If you’re lucky enough to be by a bathroom when nature calls, the Potette’s sides fold out to fit on a regular toilet seat.
We think back fondly on all the places we used our Potette: near ancient ruins in Tulum, in bushes by the monkeys at the zoo, in the parking lot at Dollywood… so many memories.
Written by Noelle from Diary of a Travel Family
Like this article? Pin it!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barbara Rodrigus is passionate about travelling – especially with her wife and daughter. She loves to show others that it’s far from impossible to travel with (young) children. A big part of that is spent on making travelling easier by bringing the right travel gear for kids.
Babs loves animals, chocolate (what did you expect from a Belgian?), reading & writing and glorious mountain views.