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The Best Baby Travel Essentials for 2021

Even if you consider yourself to be an expert at packing lightly and often travel with only your carry-on luggage, traveling with a baby is likely to change that (at least partially). Babies seem to require a lot of stuff, but we recommend only bringing the baby travel essentials that you know you’ll need and use.

While it’s tempting to pack every baby travel product just in case, more likely you’ll just feel regret for having to carry so much. It might take some trial and error before you figure out exactly what YOU need for travel with your baby, but this list of best travel items for baby should get you well on your way!

travel with baby essentials

We’ve structured this list to highlight those items that we consider to be essentials for traveling with a baby. We also offer recommendations for alternative or lighter weight baby travel products, where applicable.

We don’t include everything you need to pack for travel with a baby. All those items (like diapers, pacifiers, etc) that are part of every baby travel list can be found in our baby travel packing list at the end of this post and is free for you to download.

This post contains compensated links.

Baby Travel Gear for Sleeping

This section of essential baby travel gear items is the first because sleep is always on every parents mind (who doesn’t want more of it!?). We always felt that we had a better trip when everyone was getting a good night sleep, so we made sure we brought any essential baby travel items that might help with sleep.

If you’ve read our post on getting your baby to sleep on vacation, then you know that creating a familiar sleep environment is key.


#1 HALO Swaddle SleepSack

We used the HALO Swaddle SleepSack for both our babies at home so we would bring the HALO Swaddle SleepSack every time we traveled with our baby. This sleepsack was a major component of our baby’s sleep routine and we found it helped our baby get a good night’s sleep while on the road.

travel baby gear - baby in sleepsack
Airline Bassinet for flying with a baby

We even used it when flying with an infant, in the airplane bassinet.

We used the Swaddle SleepSack until about 6 months then switched to the HALO SleepSack without the swaddle.


#2 SlumberPod Privacy Pod

In the early days of traveling with a baby, we stayed predominantly in hotels which had cribs available which meant we didn’t need to bring our own portable travel crib.

One item that we wished had been available at the time is the SlumberPod. It will create a dark environment for your baby and would be so useful when sharing a hotel room with a baby. Even for daytime naps at the hotel or in an Airbnb without blackout blinds, this is one of the must useful baby travel products.

image of slumberpod in hotel room - best baby essentials for travel

The SlumberPod is one of those new products that’s come on the market recently and we consider it to be one of the best baby travel items!

Use code BABYCANTRAVEL10 to get $10USD off the SlumberPod when you buy direct from Slumberpod!

Still not sure? Read our full review of the SlumberPod here


#3 Baby Travel Crib or Travel Tent

While plenty of hotels and Airbnbs have pack n’ plays available for you to use, owning a portable baby travel crib is the best way to give your baby a familiar sleep environment. It’s also one less thing to worry about if you plan to move around a lot during your trip. For infants and babies, the best baby travel cribs that we recommend are the Guava Lotus travel crib or the BABYBJORN travel crib.

For older babies (older than 12 months old), the KidCo PeaPod Plus Travel Bed is another great baby travel bed option.

travel essentials baby - kidco peapod tent

On a trip to Japan with a baby, a friend recommended the KidCo Peapod Plus Travel Bed to us and was kind enough to lend us hers. The KidCo Peapod Plus travel tent is a lightweight, sturdy travel bed which collapses to fit in a typical suitcase. What’s not to love?!?

Our little guy slept great while using it and it allowed us to sleep easy knowing he was safe and well contained. We were hooked! We got one for ourselves and used it on all our trips until he was too big for his toddler travel bed.

We have a full review of the KidCo Peapod Plus toddler travel bed where we also share all our tips for getting your baby or toddler to sleep in it.


#4 Baby Monitor App

Now that you’ve gotten your baby to sleep, you’ll want to keep an eye on them. We love the Baby Monitor 3G app for when we stay somewhere where the baby is in a separate room (family, friends or an apartment rental).

The great thing about this app is it lets you leave your bulky baby monitor equipment at home.  Note that you need to have two Apple devices (i.e. one with baby and one with you) and Wi-Fi for it to work. Over 1,000,000 parents use this app and for good reason.


#5 White Noise Machine

You never can predict whether your hotel room will be loud or if the street noise will wake your baby. Using a white noise machine will enable you to replicate your baby’s sleep environment and block out extra noise that might wake your baby.

using white noise machine and toddler travel tent - travelling essentials for baby

We especially liked it for sharing a hotel room with our baby and we’ve even used it on the airplane.

using white noise machine for baby on plane - travel gear for baby

You can always get an app for white noise, as long as you won’t need your device in the evening when your baby sleeps.


Baby Travel Must Haves for Getting Around

#6 Baby Travel Car Seat

If you plan to bring a car seat on the airplane or need one for a rental car, then this is one of the essentials for traveling with a baby that you want to plan ahead on. The Cosco Scenera Next is the lightweight travel car seat that you’ll see recommended time and time again.

If you plan to fly with a car seat and not bring it on the plane, make sure to keep it safe in a car seat travel bag. You can get a protective bag for strollers too, though you’ll probably be gate checking your stroller and they aren’t quite as necessary.

Do you need a car seat for travel with a baby? Here are things to consider before traveling with car seats on airplanes, which might help your decision on purchasing a travel car seat.


#7 Baby Carrier for Travel

When it comes to getting around with a baby, we wouldn’t travel without a baby carrier. Under the category of infant travel essentials, we absolutely love the Baby K’tan Wrap and would recommend it to anyone.

must have baby travel items - baby carrier

The wonderful things about this wrap are how easy it is to use and how many different ways you can wear your baby in it. We love that the fabric gives it that cozy feeling keeping your baby close, while it also gives support with the band you use. It’s like using a wrap or ring sling without the learning curve! 

We used ours until the kids were about 9 months old, and we have certainly got our money’s worth! The one downside is that you order it depending on your size. Unfortunately, that means that it didn’t work for both my husband and I.

After the Baby K’tan, we moved to the Ergo Baby Carrier. The Ergo Baby Carrier is size adjustable, which means either my husband or I can carry the baby. It was our favorite baby carrier for travel and sightseeing with a baby.

baby carrier - travel essentials with baby

The newest Ergo Baby Carriers enable you to carry your baby on your front (front or forward facing), back or hip which gives you plenty of ways to keep your baby (and your back) happy. We also had an infant insert which allowed us to use this baby carrier with a newborn.


#8 CoziGo Bassinet and Stroller Cover

This is one of those baby travel necessities that should be on everyone’s packing list for travel with baby! It could easily go under the category of baby travel products for sleep, flying or getting around.

The CoziGo Bassinet & Stroller Cover works as both a cover for airline bassinets and a sun shade for strollers.

CoziGo Sleep & Sun Cover - travel essentials baby

We’ve made the mistake of using a blanket over the stroller and it never worked all that well. Our baby was too hot and the wind wasn’t any help! The CoziGo is now one of our top recommended baby travel products to get your baby to sleep on vacation.

If you are wondering what to bring for traveling with a baby and helping with naps on-the-go, definitely add the CoziGo Stroller Cover to your baby travel essentials list.


#9 Lightweight Travel Stroller

Travel strollers have come a long way, from simple umbrella strollers to lightweight travel strollers that have a canopy and fold up small enough to fit in the overhead bin on the airplane.

If you aren’t in the market to buy a separate travel stroller and your everyday stroller is too large to travel with, you can rent a stroller at your destination. Use your baby carrier to get you through the airport and you might just enjoy being forced to pack lightly and have one less thing to worry about. We cover this in more depth in our post on baby carrier or stroller for travel.

Again, whether renting or bringing your own travel system, the CoziGo is a must have travel item! Not only for getting your baby to nap on the go, but not having to worry about them being in the sun for too long!


Baby Travel Essentials for Eating

#10 Nursing Cover

While we don’t believe a woman needs to cover up while breastfeeding, depending on your comfort level or where you travel to with your baby, a nursing cover might be a necessary item to add to your baby travel list.

using a nursing cover - traveling with baby essentials

For breastfeeding and pumping moms, read our post on flying with a baby and breastfeeding.

If your baby is formula fed, then there would be more to add to this list! Know anyone who might be interested in writing a post on traveling with a formula fed baby? Send us an email at info[at]babycantravel[dot]com.


#11 Portable Travel High Chair

If you are traveling in a country where you can safely expect every restaurant to have a high chair, like these best places to travel in the usa with a baby or toddler, then you may not need a portable travel high chair. However, a travel high chair can also be very convenient for feeding a baby in hotel rooms or if your Airbnb doesn’t have one.

essentials for traveling with baby - portable high chair

Once our baby was eating solid foods, we always traveled with the MyLittleSeat Travel High Chair. A fabric travel high chair is one of the best baby travel products to pack when traveling to countries where restaurants don’t typically have high chairs!

We love that it has a 5-point harness, it attaches to the back of most chairs and if attached properly, will keep your baby securely in the chair (still never leave your baby unattended).  As a bonus, it packs down really small, which makes it easy to bring out with you while sightseeing with your baby!

baby in portable travel high chair - one of the travel baby accessories

While there are some downsides to a simple fabric travel high chair, we cover them in this post on the best travel high chairs compared. You’ll also find all our recommendations for clip on travel high chairs and other options that might suit your family better


#12 Baby Bibs

For travel with a baby who is eating solid food, you’ll want to pack bibs that are easy to clean. You can also pack a portable baby food masher if you want to prepare your own baby food while you travel.

washable bib for baby - travel essentials baby

#13 Silicone Table Mat

Feeding a baby finger food can get messy, especially when your baby is in the plate flinging stage. Using a silicone table mat, lets you put their food in front of them and let them practice feeding themselves.

baby eating from silicone place mat - travelling with a baby essentials

#14 Sippy Cup & Spill Proof Snack Cup

For snacks on the go, a sippy cup and spill proof snack cup are must have baby travel items. Your baby can snack away in the stroller while you walk to the next attraction!

spill proof snack cup - travel essentials with baby

Baby Airplane Travel Gear

Flying with a baby can be intimidating, especially for the first time. If there’s one place that packing lightly is important, then this is it. You’ll have enough to deal with, rather than worrying about a bunch of bags.

The number one item we recommend for flying with a baby is a good baby carrier. You’ll find our top two baby carriers for travel in the Baby Travel Must Haves for Getting Around section above.

Here are a few other items that we always pack in our carry-on for flying with a baby:


#15 Lightweight Baby Blankets for Travel

Though this might seem like an odd item to have under baby gear. Blankets are one of the best traveling essentials for baby. We highly recommend the Aden & Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets. The reason we love them so much is for their large size and how lightweight they are.

swaddle blankets - best baby gear for travel

They are perfect for giving your baby a place to play on the floor in that airport, obviously they work well to swaddle or keep your baby warm, and they even work as a nursing cover in a pinch. They are one of those wonderful multi-tasking baby travel essentials! We love them so much, we even wrote an entire blog post on how useful these swaddle blankets are for travel with a baby!

baby stroller and blanket - travelling essentials for baby

The best part is that you’ll keep using these even when you are traveling with a toddler! They are worth every penny!


#16 Baby Travel Toys

While you’ll be hoping to get your baby to sleep on the airplane, you should pack a few toys to keep your baby entertained on the flight. We have several baby travel toys to entertain your baby on the plane listed here.

baby with baby travel toys one of the Baby Travel Essentials

#17 Diapers and Extra Baby Clothes

Don’t forget to pack more diapers than you think you’ll need and a few extra outfits for your baby. Blowouts happen and you’ll want to be prepared. On that note, pack an extra shirt for yourself!

flying with a baby

Other Travel Essentials for Baby

#18 Diaper Change Pad

One more that we would definitely include in our list of essentials for travelling with a baby is a diaper change pad. You won’t need to worry about finding places to change your baby if you have one. We used ours so frequently that it definitely falls under the category of best baby gear!

baby on portable change mat - a travel baby essentials

#19 Diaper Bag

What about your diaper bag? Our only recommendation here is to make sure you use something that will allow you to be hands free, like this backpack diaper bag! We’ve even used our regular hiking backpack as a diaper bag / carry-on for traveling with a baby.


#20 Inflatable Travel Bathtub

Some babies thrive on routine and getting your baby to sleep on vacation often means replicating your bedtime routine while you travel. If a bath is part of your baby’s bedtime routine, you can purchase an inflatable bathtub for travel. Other alternatives are to use the hotel sink or give your baby a wipe down with a warm cloth.


#21 Travel Baby Monitor

While we love the simplicity of using an app for a baby monitor for traveling, it’s not always the best solution (you need a strong consistent signal for it to work). You need to keep one of your devices with the baby or carry an extra device. One alternative is to pack a travel baby monitor. Then you’ll rest easy knowing you can still keep an eye on your baby. This is especially important if you are renting an Airbnb with separate rooms.

KidCo PeaPod Plus Travel Tent - a baby travel essential for sleeping

#22 Thermometer and Baby Tylenol

While we hope you’ll never have to deal with your baby being sick when you travel, packing a few essentials will be well worth it. We always included a baby thermometer and baby Tylenol in our carry-on luggage. The last thing we wanted was trying to find these items in a country where we didn’t speak the language!


The Most Essential Things to Pack When Traveling with a Baby

We’ve done it all from flying long haul flights with an infant, to traveling with a baby and a toddler. Trust us when we say that for flying with a baby, you won’t want the added stress of extra bags and baby travel items to lug around the airport and to find room for in your rental car.

flying with a baby and toddler

Over time and after several trips, we’ve really narrowed it down to which products are actually baby essentials for travel. In the list of Traveling with Baby Essentials above you’ll find what we consider to be the best travel products for babies.

We also make note of those that are true travel essentials for babies and those that are “nice to have” baby travel accessories if you have the space. If your trip involved time on the beach, make sure to check out our baby beach essentials.

If you aren’t looking to purchase one of these essentials for traveling with baby, here are the options you that may allow you to avoid purchasing or packing one of these essential travel items for baby:

  • For the bigger traveling accessories for babies, like a portable crib or a high chair, first check with your hotel or Airbnb host. Even if the high chair or pack n’ play isn’t listed in the description, your host may be able to make one available for you. It never hurts to ask!

    If you are new to Airbnb, it’s easy to sign up with our link and get a nice discount off your first stay.

  • If neither of those options work out, you can still avoid bringing all that baby gear and rent these must have items for traveling with baby at your destination. In larger centers, you can often find a reputable baby equipment rental company that can deliver baby travel essentials directly to your hotel or Airbnb apartment.

  • For other baby travel items, you may be able to use an alternative item – like many parents did in our post about the best travel hacks for babies and toddlers.

If you plan to travel frequently, then we do recommend buying the must have baby travel items. It’s much more convenient if you have your own, plus it will be something that your baby is familiar with.

So what do we consider the essential things to pack when traveling with a baby? At a minimum, these are our recommended essentials for traveling with baby:

  • Baby carrier
  • Large swaddle blankets
  • SlumperPod
  • Baby travel bed (if not provided by a hotel)
  • CoziGo stroller cover (if traveling with a stroller)
  • Fabric high chair (if baby is eating solid foods)
  • Diaper change pad
  • Thermometer & Baby Tylenol
  • Sleep items that your baby is familiar with (sleepsack, white noise, etc)

You can definitely get by with leaving all the other baby travel stuff at home or buying lighter and more portable baby travel gear. This would depend on how much room you have and how much you’ll be moving around!

We’ve also created a list on Amazon with all the products mentioned above, so you can see them all in one place!

Checklist for What to Bring When Traveling with a Baby

It can seem overwhelming when you start thinking about everything you need to bring when traveling with a baby and that’s why we’ve created this handy baby packing list so you don’t forget anything!

Best Travel Products for Toddlers

You’ll notice that this post mostly covers the best travel gear for babies, you can find all our recommended toddler travel essentials here:

Best Toddler Travel Essentials

Best Toddler Travel Beds

Best Inflatable Airplane Travel Beds for Toddlers

Travel with a Potty Training Toddler

We purchased all of the gear above with our own money, with the exception of the KidCo PeaPod Plus, the SlumberPod & CoziGo which were provided to us for the purpose of a review. All opinions are our own.

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