Packing for a trip can get a little overwhelming. There’s such a fine balance between having everything you need and packing way too much.
If ever there’s a time when parents get nervous flying, it’s flying with a toddler. Toddlers like to move, are extremely curious and definitely don’t like to be confined to one space. It’s completely understandable that parents will want to pack everything under the sun into their toddler carry on bag to avoid those toddler tantrums on the plane.
That’s why we created this toddler carry on packing list. After several flights over the years, we have narrowed it down to what we need to pack each and every time.
Whether you are packing toddler carry on luggage or carrying it all in your diaper bag backpack, this will help you decide what’s worth packing and what should be left behind.
Toddler Carry-On Packing List – Table of Contents
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Toddler Carry On Packing List
What to bring when flying with a toddler? Here’s a quick list of packing for a toddler on a plane.
I’ll discuss each one below to help you decide if this should truly be on YOUR packing list for flying with a toddler. We’ll also discuss what things from your airplane packing list for toddlers should go in your own carry on and what can go in your toddlers’ travel backpack.
Here are the things to take on a plane for a toddler:
- Airplane Travel Toys
- Ipad / Tablet
- Toddler Headphones
- Non-Screen Time Activities
- Airplane Snacks
- Travel Sippy Cup
- Travel Snack Cup
- Diapers or Pull-Ups
- Diaper Change Mat
- Hand Sanitizer
- Stuffed Animal
- Extra Set of Clothes
- Wet/Dry Bag
- White Noise Machine
- Toddler Airplane Bed
- First Aid Kit
- Travel Potty
- Toddler Carrier
- Car Seat with Gate Check Bag
If you are thinking that our list for what to pack when flying with a toddler seems ridiculously long, don’t fret. You don’t necessarily need all of those items and you won’t need ALL of them every time you fly.
There are some items that you’ll want in your toddler carry on suitcase just in case and others you may not need at all. Let’s review each of these items from the toddler carry on packing list.
1. Airplane Travel Toys
You’ll want to pack at least a few toys for your toddler to keep him entertained on the plane. Some of these best travel toys for the airplane should definitely be on your list of things to take on a plane for toddlers.
Let your toddler pack a few of the travel toys in his own carry on! Just make sure to keep them small, like a few small cars or finger puppets, so you don’t overload your toddlers’ backpack or carry on suitcase.
2. Ipad / Tablet
Even if your toddler doesn’t have a lot of screen time at home, having a few shows or fun apps can occupy your toddler for small amounts of time on the plane. We list our favorite toddler airplane activities on the iPad, which includes things like Little Baby Bum (a toddler favorite) and a few fun and easy apps for toddlers.
3. Toddler Headphones
If you bring an iPad or tablet, it’s worth it to have some toddler headphones for the airplane. Our list is full of great options that are safe for your toddler’s hearing. Some of our favorite toddler headphone options include wireless toddler headphones while others have fun designs.
4. Non-Screen Time Activities
Your toddler may have a limited attention span for the tablet. We always recommend packing a few screen free toddler activities, which can include coloring books, crayons, gel cling stickers and even some puzzles.
Your toddler can pack a few small books or puzzles in his own carry on. Bigger items should go in your carry on.
5. Airplane Snacks
One more way to occupy your toddler during a flight is toddler airplane snacks that take a while to eat, like cheerios or blueberries. You can also help your toddler feel independent by letting your toddler carry a few mess-free snacks like granola bars.
The rest of your toddlers travel snacks will go in your carry on.
6. Travel Sippy Cup
When packing for toddlers on a plane, don’t forget to bring one of these best travel sippy cups. This will help keep your toddler hydrated and avoid messes made by using the regular plastic cups (which make good airplane toys).
You’ll want to have the sippy cup for the rest of your trip too, so make sure it’s a spill-proof cup and your toddler loves it.
7. Travel Snack Cup
Don’t forget to pack your toddler snack cup for travel in the carry on for your toddler. Spill proof snack containers are an excellent way to let your toddler hold his own snack without you having to worry about a giant mess on the floor.
Our toddler loved his spill proof snack cup, which he carried everywhere with him.
8. Diapers or Pull-Ups
Depending on where you are in the potty training phase, you may still need to pack diapers or pull-ups. Traveling with a potty training toddler doesn’t need to be intimidating.
You can still use a pull-up for emergencies (like on the plane, when the seat belt light is on), but plan to take your toddler to the toilet. Even when our toddler was using the toilet, we used pull-ups for the plane for sleeping and those times that we weren’t able to get our of our seats.
We made sure to tell our toddler it was just for emergencies and that he should tell us if he had to go. We never felt that this set us back on our potty training with him. And it made the flight much less stressful!
Whether your toddler is fully potty trained or not, you’ll still want to pack enough wipes in a durable travel wipes container. Trust me when I say that you’ll still be packing and using wipes for years to come!
From messes to cleaning off the tray table, you’ll want to pack plenty of wipes!
10. Diaper Change Mat
If your toddler is still in diapers, pack a quality diaper change mat for travel. Then you can use it in the airplane toilet to give your toddler a clean place to lie down. You’ll be glad you have it for the entirety of your trip too, so you aren’t searching for places to do diaper changes.
11. Hand Sanitizer
This one needs no explanation! It’s always worth having a small travel bottle of hand sanitizer.
Every “packing list for toddler flight” should include pajamas, especially if you are flying overnight and want to get your toddler to sleep on the plane. If you can replicate your toddler’s at home bedtime routine, which likely includes getting pajamas on and reading a book, you’ll have much better luck!
13. Stuffed Animal
If your toddler won’t sleep without his favorite stuffed animal, then make sure to bring it on the plane for your toddler.
14. Extra Set of Clothes
It’s always worth having an extra set of clothes for your toddler when flying. You just don’t know when an accident or a big mess is going to happen! If you are already bringing pajamas, then you may not need this extra set of clothes – it will depend on the length of your flight and your total travel time to get to your destination.
15. Wet/Dry Bag
A wet/dry bag is the perfect place to put soiled clothes, to keep them away from everything else in your carry on.
If your toddler has a favorite blanket, then it’s worth bringing to give your toddler that feel of familiarity and comfort on the plane where there will be so many new people and experiences to contend with.
Even if your toddler doesn’t have a favorite blanket, packing a light travel blanket will have so many uses on your trip.
17. White Noise Machine
If your toddler is used to sleeping with white noise at home, then by all means pack a white noise machine to help get your toddler to sleep on vacation.
A white noise machine for travel won’t appear on most lists of “what to bring for toddler on airplane”, but we found it useful to help our toddler get to sleep and block out other noises around.
18. Toddler Airplane Bed
If you are wondering what to bring on a plane for a toddler to make the flight easier, we’ve been big fans of airplane beds for toddlers. They give your toddler a larger area to play, stop toys from falling on the floor and give your toddler a larger sleeping area.
Our favorite ones have been the Flyaway Design Kids Bed and the Fly Tot. We would only recommend these if you aren’t planning on flying with a car seat and aren’t planning to bring it on to the airplane.
There are also budget airplane beds for toddlers, if you aren’t sure you can use it on your flight and don’t want to invest too much money for just one flight.
Unfortunately, an airplane bed will have to go into your carry on, unless you are using a toddler suitcase as a carry on (and are likely to carry it for your toddler).
19. First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is never a bad thing to have in your carry on! You just never know when your adventurous toddler will have a spill or a small owie.
20. Toddler Tylenol
We always pack medications in our carry on, so the toddler Tylenol should go in your own carry on. It’s useful to bring this from home, since you won’t want the stress of trying to find a pharmacy or read labels in another language if your toddler gets sick on your trip.
21. Travel Potty
If your toddler is completely out of diapers and using a pull-up even for a backup is out of the question, then you can pack a portable toddler travel potty. We really like the OXO 2-in-1 travel potty since it can be used as a stand-alone toddler potty or on top of the airplane toilet. This folding travel potty seat is another excellent option that packs smaller.
If you won’t be using it on the airplane, then you can safely pack it in your toddler suitcase for the remainder of the trip.
22. Toddler Carrier
A toddler carrier for travel is a must! You just never know when those little legs are going to get tired. If your toddler still enjoys being carried, then a toddler carrier is an excellent way to try to get your toddler to sleep on the plane.
23. Car Seat with Gate Check Bag
If you’ve purchased a seat for your toddler who is under two years old, you can bring a travel car seat on to the plane for your toddler. If you plan on gate checking your car seat, pack a gate check bag and see these clever ways to carry a car seat through the airport.
Let’s recap! Here are the things to take on a plane for toddler that can go in the carry on for your toddler: a few small toys, a coloring book and crayons, a few small snacks, sippy cup, travel snack cup, stuffed animal and light travel blanket.
Just make sure not to overload your toddlers’ backpack, or it will become one more thing for you to carry!
For your carry on, here are the things to take on plane for toddler that you’ll need space for:
- other airplane travel toys or new toys
- toddler headphones
- change mat
- hand sanitizer
- toddler travel snacks
- extra clothes
- wet bag
- white noise machine
- toddler airplane bed
- first aid kit
- travel potty
- toddler carrier
- car seat gate check bag.
Flying with Toddler Checklist
Sign up to get a printable for what to take on a plane for a toddler. We’ve also included a fun checklist for your toddler!
Your toddler’s checklist has images, so your toddler can participate in the packing!
Other Toddler Travel Resources
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's been helping new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has contributed to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.