Before getting into this packing list, I should note that I am a notorious over-packer and over-planner. I’m the type of person who tends to travel with anything I might possibly need, just in case.So this is a VERY thorough list. I first put it together when we were going on a week-long vacation by car with our 5-month-old, so I figured I might as well just bring everything (yes, the car was so full that it looked like we were moving). If we were traveling by plane or going for a shorter amount of time, or even just traveling with a slightly older baby, there are definitely items I would have gotten by without. So pick and choose what you want or think you *really* need, based on where you’re going, how long you’re going for, and how you’re getting there. (And if I’ve missed anything, please let me know in the comments so I can make sure this is an exhaustive list!)
First, a few quick tips I’ve learned from other moms if you’re traveling by plane or just trying to pack light:
Send what you can ahead to your destination – especially bulky items like diapers and wipes – or just bring a few of the essentials to get you by until you can purchase the items locally.
Rent or borrow any large items, like a travel crib (some hotels or Airbnbs even have cribs you can use), high chair, jumperoo, etc.
If you’re traveling by plane and checking either a car seat or travel crib, it’s often considered a free piece of luggage and you can stuff a few extra items into it. It’s especially helpful to stuff all the sleep stuff you need into the travel crib, so you aren’t searching around for the sheets, pajamas, etc., especially if you arrive late at your destination and need to set up the crib quickly and get the baby to bed.
Looks for things that can serve double duty – e.g., a muslin blanket that could also be a burp cloth, or a toy that’s also a teether.
Mentally prepare yourself to read the same book over and over and over again. (You will care more about the lack of variety than your baby will..)
Ok, here we go: my monster packing list, and below that, at the very bottom of this very long list, a few specific recommendations for favorite travel products (marked with asterisks in the list).
Travel crib* + sheets
Pajamas and/or sleep sack
Books for nap/bedtime
Lovey or stuffed animal
White noise machine*
Baby monitor* (including camera, handset + charger)
Car seat canopy*
Car seat toys*
Car seat bag or backpack*
Portable noise machine*
Shades for car windows*
Backseat car mirror*
Diaper bag or backpack
Teething bib for carrier
Vitamin D drops
Breast pump + all parts (flanges, valves, backflow, tubes, power cord) OR hand pump*
Pump storage bottles
Milk storage bags (if freezing any milk)
Small cooler* + ice packs (if transporting any milk back home)
Anything you need for formula feeding
Ready-made formula bottles for travel
Purée pouches and snacks
Baby bowls* + spoons*
“Sippy” or straw cup* + cup tether*
Silicone or mesh feeder*
Burp cloths (or muslin blanket)
Bottle(s) for feeding
Portable dry rack + sponge / bottle brush*
Unscented dish soap for baby
Portable changing pad*
Disposable changing pads*
Aquaphor and/or butt paste
Baby bath soap
Plastic cup for rinsing
Baby bath towel
Leggings / shorts
Jacket / sweatshirt
Portable play mat or blanket*
Portable chair or bouncer*
A few toys
A few teethers
A few books
Disinfectant toy wipes*
Seasonal – Summer or Warm Destination
Baby sunscreen* (after 6 months)
Waterproof blanket for beach or park*
Stroller bug cover
Stroller rain cover
Car seat rain cover
Carrier rain cover
Seasonal – Winter or Cold Destination
Bunting for stroller or car seat*
Warm carrier cover*
Health & First Aid
Hydrocortisone cream (1%)
Saline nasal drops
NoseFrida* + filters (occasional use only – i.e., nose-breathing emergencies)
Rectal thermometer + water-based lube
Baby-safe surface wipes*
Baby toothbrush & toothpaste (if have teeth)
Pacifiers and clips
Muslin blankets or other baby blanket
Unscented laundry detergent
iPad with preloaded baby entertainment for emergency plane or car situations
Copy of baby’s birth certificate
Extra ziplock bags
Here are a few specific recommendations for the items listed above. These contain affiliate links, meaning that if you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. But rest assured, I did not get any of these products for free in exchange for promotion, so they are truly my own personal recommendations.
Travel Crib: We received a Babybjorn Travel Crib as a hand-me-down from a friend and it’s great – so easy to set up that I accidentally did it while taking it out of the case just to look at it. It feels very sturdy too and the mattress is comfy for the baby. Another people seem to love is the Guava Lotus Travel Crib and Portable Baby Playard – it’s also lightweight and easy to set up, like the Babybjorn, but packs up small enough to carry it on the plane or stuff it inside a large suitcase. You can also buy a shade for it, which seems very useful for times you may be sharing a room with the baby and don’t want to have to sit in the dark after 7pm or enjoy your evening glass of wine in the bathroom.
White Noise Machine: I swear by the LectroFan – my husband & I have used it for years, even before kids, and we take it everywhere we go since we’re both light sleepers. It has a bunch of different white noise and fan sounds, and the volume goes up high enough that you can share a room with your baby without them hearing you. They also have amazing customer service – if anything breaks, they’ll replace the entire machine for you – so it is a lifetime investment!
Travel Baby Monitor: Since our regular baby monitor is now attached to the wall and difficult to remove, I have HelloBaby video monitor that I use for travel – it’s inexpensive and works very well for the price; also small and lightweight so packs easily!
Car Seat Canopy: This aden + anais one is great for a car seat with a handle that you can attach it to (i.e., infant car seats), but I’m not sure if it would work with convertible car seats. You can also just use a muslin blanket with stroller clips to make your own canopy (this is my stroller nap hack too, along with the portable white noise machine).
Car Seat Toys: You obviously do not want to attach anything that could be dangerous to the car seat in the event of a crash. I like this SkipHop Stroller Bar Activity Toy because it attaches securely with velcro and is very soft, with nothing hard that could hit the baby in the face. Our baby LOVES it and – true to the name – I also use it on our umbrella stroller bar when we’re not using the car seat.
Car Seat Bag: We’re about to take our first plane trip with the car seat and bought this Car Seat Travel Bag to help us get it through the airport. You can use it for gate checking your seat or use it as a backpack to help keep hands free until you get on the plane (if the baby will have his/her own seat).
Portable White Noise Machine: the Marpac Hushh, while possibly a little pricey for what it is, has paid for itself many times over for me – we use it for car and stroller naps – you can hook it right onto the bar.
Car Window Shades: We have BRICA White Hot Sun Safety Shades and they’re pretty good, but they don’t always block out all of the sun, so I use the car seat canopy too for naps.
Backseat Mirror: We got Sonilove Baby Car Mirror based on the good reviews, but haven’t used it yet since I keep sitting in the back with the baby. That will probably stop at some point…like when she’s 18?!
Baby Carrier:Everyone has their favorite – I’m a fan of the Beco Gemini since the Ergobaby hurt my back. And then of course I felt the need to get the Beco Gemini Mesh because it’s very lightweight and packs up as tiny as a structured carrier can – perfect for travel or just always keeping in the stroller basket. If you have a good back or a small/young baby, you might also be able to get away with a soft fabric carrier, but I need more structure for my bad back and 20-lb 9-month-old.
Hand Pump:I like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump better than the Medela one.
Small Cooler:The PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag is awesome – we use one for transporting bottles/food to daycare, and I bought another just for travel and transporting any pumped milk. You can actually freeze the whole thing and it acts as an ice pack bag to keep the contents very cold for hours.
Solids/Snack Containers: The Oxo Tot Baby Blocks are great and they come in a 2-ounce size and 4-ounce size(depending on how much food your baby is eating these days or what kind of snack you’re bringing). They don’t leak so it’s also easy to throw them into a diaper bag for snacks on-the-go.
Baby Bowls:When you’re in the throwing food/plates stage, a bowl that sticks to the high chair tray/table is a must. These Best Suction Baby Bowls are lightweight and easy to throw into a diaper bag.
Baby Spoons: This Munchkin Soft-Tip Infant Spoon 6-Packis so cheap that you won’t care if you lose one.
“Sippy” Cup: Big fan of the Munchkin Miracle 360 Cup (we introduced it when our baby was around 7-8 months), or if you prefer a straw cup, the ZoLi BOT Straw Sippy Cup is easy for younger babies to learn how to use.
Silicone Feeder: I have the Boon Pulp Silicone Feeder and it’s great for starting solids (e.g., with banana or avocado inside) and also for teething (e.g., with frozen fruits inside).
Cup Tether: To prevent aforementioned sippy cup from being propelled onto the floor from great heights or tossed onto dirty streets from the stroller, this PBnJ Baby SippyPal Sippy Cup Holder Strap Leash Tether is great.
Portable Drying Rack:This Oxo Tot On-the-Go Travel Drying Rack is great and already comes with a bottle brush inside
Travel Changing Pad:This SkipHop Portable Changing Station is a fave, and you can even clip it onto a stroller, backpack or piece of luggage for easy travel.
Disposable Changing Pads:I also like to bring a few small-sized Chux pads (and leave a clean ont folded up inside), so if there are any accidents mid-change, it’s even easier to clean up the mess on-the-go.
Inflatable Bathtub:Some people just get by with the bathtub and a towel on the bottom, which I think could work fine when your baby can sit up pretty stably on their own. But before that, I found this Inflatable Froggie Tub very useful – it has a hump on the base to help prop the baby up. It’s also so much faster than filling up a whole bathtub with water. Now that our baby can sit up on her own, but is still prone to falling over occasionally, I got this Inflatable Duck Tub – sure, I probably don’t *need* it, but it’s inexpensive enough that it’s worth it just for the photo ops! Plus it can double as a pool raft.
Drool Bibs: I love these Matimati Bandana Drool Bibs for drinking bottles on-the-go, chewing on teething toys, or if you just have a big drooler in general
Portable Play Mat: For travel by car, this Wee Giggles Foam Play Mat was awesome – especially when our baby was young enough that the low foam walls actually contained her and all her toys. Now that she’s older, and also if traveling by plane/packing lighter, I’m going to bring our Monkey Mat just to be able to lay down on a hotel room rug (and also doubles as an outdoor blanket).
Portable chair or bouncer: We loved the Babybjorn Bouncer when our baby was younger and found it very useful to bring with us on our road trip, before she could sit up comfortably on her own. Unless you’re a super baller, you don’t also need the travel version, since the regular one folds flat and doesn’t take up much room.
Disinfectant Toy Wipes: These NUK individually-wrapped wipes are perfect for cleaning off fallen pacifiers and teethers. I always keep a few in the diaper bag too.
Toy Clips: These Baby Buddy Safety Straps work well for attaching toys to car seats, strollers and even carriers, so you don’t lose them on the streets of NYC or in the airport!
Sun Hat: iPlay makes sun hats in all different colors and patterns – they provide great SPF protection and dry quickly, so they’re good for swimming too. This Flap Sun Hatis particularly good for the beach because it protects the back of their neck too. But I also can’t resist the Brim Hat in fun patterns (yes I did buy the luau one for our upcoming trip to Hawaii).
Swim Diapers: These ALVABABY Swim Diapers are great because they have snaps that make them adjustable, so your baby won’t outgrow them in a hot second. They also come in fun patterns, so you can just get a rash guard for on top and skip the bathing suit altogether.
Sunglasses: I love the Babiators ones – they look awesome and have a soft rubbery frame so your baby will have fun chewing on them once she rips them off her face in two seconds flat, and it won’t hurt as much if she pokes herself in the head with them.
SPF Blanket: This was probably more necessary when the baby was < 6 months old and couldn’t use sunscreen yet, but I would probably still bring it on a warm-weather trip just for some extra sun protection. I got this Coolibar 50+ Sun Blanket in white, which is very soft and lightweight.
Baby Sunscreen: I’m a big fan of Blue Lizard – it’s a mineral one that doesn’t turn you completely white.
Bug Repellent:I like these Cutter All Family Wipes because you don’t have to risk getting spray in baby’s eyes or mouth. They’re individually wrapped too, so easy to stick one or two in the diaper bag, and no risk of bug spray spilling in your bag either!
Stroller Fan:This FYLINA USB Rechargeable Mini Clip-On Fan works well and actually stays on my stroller.
Beach Tent:This Pacific Breeze Easy Up Beach Tent was awesome and super easy to set up. It folds up to the size of a large umbrella and comes with a carrying case.
Stroller Bunting:If you’re anywhere near a Northeast winter or going on a ski vacation, you gotta go with the 7AM Enfant Blanket 212 Evolution Extendable Baby Bunting. It will cost you an arm and a leg, but it will also last for years to keep your baby’s arms and legs toasty. Anything for the kids, right?
Winter Booties:If you’re looking to save a little money, these Luvable Friends Baby Cozy Fleece Booties with Non-Skid Bottom are like knock-off Zutanos (and I honestly can’t tell the difference).
Warm Carrier Cover:I have a fleece one that’s apparently no longer being sold anymore, but I’m thinking about getting this Bebamour Universal Hoodie All Season Carrier Coverfor this winter, since it also works with an outward-facing baby (which is the only way my baby wants to be in the carrier these days).
Hand Sanitizer:We have these BabyGanics Alchohol Free Foaming Hand Sanitizer stuffed in every possible bag or stroller we might take with the baby.
Nail Clippers:I never bothered with real nail clippers or scissors, because the thought of clipping off one of my baby’s fingers was too traumatizing; and once she started getting more active and squirmy, there was no way I would have been able to get her to hold still enough. The electric ones are amazing! The one I purchased is no longer being sold, but this Little Martin’s Drawer Baby Nail File looks great.
NoseFrida: “The Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator” as they call it works miracles if your baby is really stuffed up. Our doctor told us not to use it frequently, since it can cause inflammation and make things worse, but I’ve found it to be great for occasional and emergency use – e.g., if the baby is so stuffed that she can’t breastfeed because she can’t breathe through her nose. (Other times, I just put a drop of Little Remedies Little Noses Saline Spray/Drops in her nose and let her sneeze it out.)
Surface Wipes:These Babyganics All Purpose Wipes are handy for cleaning up the high chair tray, table, play mat, etc. Or really just anything around the house. I keep them in every room now and stick one in the car for travel.
The links contained in this blog post are affiliate links, meaning that if you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. But rest assured, I did not get any of these products for free in exchange for promotion, so they are truly my own personal recommendations.