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22 Must-Have Baby Travel Essentials for 2023

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 Advice You Can Trust

You’ve come to the right place. The following list of the best baby travel gear comes from our real-life experience flying with our babies and toddlers. Whether it was a short-haul flight to visit San Diego with a baby, a long haul flight to Paris with a baby or a very long flight to Tokyo with a toddler, we’ve been in your shoes before and are here to help.

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.

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.

a baby asleep in a Halo Swaddle Sleepsack - travel baby gear
Our daughter loved her HALO Swaddle Sleepsack
Airline Bassinet for flying with a baby
Our baby’s first flight!

We even used this swaddle sleepsack 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 most useful baby travel products.

a slumberpod set up in a in hotel room gives baby a dark sleep environment and some privacy for the adults- best baby essentials for travel

The SlumberPod is one of those amazing new products that’s come on the market recently and we consider it to be one of the travel must haves for baby! If the SlumberPod isn’t within your budget, here are other portable blackout blinds or these SlumberPod alternatives we recommend.

If you prefer to get a blackout curtain for the windows, one option we really like are the Sleepout Curtains which have industrial-strength suction cups. In addition, they come with extra Sleepout pads to help stop any light from coming through on the edges! Use code “babycantravel” for a 10% discount! For more information, read our full review of the Sleepout Blackout Curtains.

Use BABYCANTRAVEL$20 to get $20 off the SlumberPod when you buy direct from SlumberPod!

Still not sure if you need one for camping with a baby? Read our full review of the SlumberPod here.

3. Baby Travel Crib or Travel Tent

While plenty of hotels and Airbnb rentals 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 more budget friendly Chicco Alfa Lite.

For older babies (older than 6 months old), the KidCo PeaPod Plus Travel Bed is another great baby travel bed option.

a baby sound asleep in a kidco peapod tent - travel essentials baby

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 the Peapod Plus and it allowed us to sleep easy knowing he was safe and well contained. We were hooked! We quickly got one for ourselves and used it on all our family trips until he was too big for his toddler travel bed.

We have a full Lotus travel crib review and a 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 our baby is in a separate room (family, friends or an apartment rental).

iPad App Baby Monitor 3G

The great thing about this baby monitor app is it lets you leave your bulky baby monitor equipment at home.  Note that you need to have two Apple or Android devices (i.e. one with baby and one with you) and Wi-Fi for it to work. Over 1,000,000 parents use this handy baby travel 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
Our son loved his white noise machine.

We especially liked having a portable white noise machine for sharing a hotel room with our baby and we’ve even used it on the airplane. In both situations, having a white noise machine gives your baby something to focus on besides all the distracting, new & exciting ambient noise around them.

using white noise machine for baby on plane while sleeping on a Fly Tot travel bed - travel gear for baby
Our little guy sleeps on a flight on his Fly Tot with his white noise machine

If you like to travel light, you can always get an app for white noise, but the big downside to this is that you won’t have your phone with you in the evening when your baby sleeps. Perhaps use an old phone?

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, but it’s not always available. This one is another well reviewed lightweight baby travel car seat.

a toddler sleeps in a travel convertible car seat in a rental car during a family trip
Our son asleep in the rental car

If you plan to fly with a car seat and not bring it with you to your seats, 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, which makes the protective bag unnecessary.

See all the best car seat travel bags here, plus more ingenious ways on carrying your car seat through the airport.

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 while traveling with a baby, we highly recommend 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
I would walk our daughter to sleep before our flights using our Baby K’tan baby wrap.

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 our Baby K’tan 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 our kids outgrew 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.

hiking in Sedona with a baby in an Ergobaby carrier - travel essentials with baby
hiking with our baby in Sedona, AZ

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 had an original Ergo baby carrier, so 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’s so versatile that 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 kept blowing it off!  

The CoziGo is now one of our top recommended baby travel products to get your baby to sleep on vacation.

a baby in a stroller with a CoziGo Stroller Cover

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

9. Lightweight Travel Stroller

Travel strollers have come a long way. Your options now range 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 infant travel stroller and your everyday stroller is too large to travel with, you can always rent a stroller at your destination. I’ve rented strollers for our family travels on many occasions – it’s a nice treat not having to bring it onto the airplane.

mother pushing toddler in lightweight foldable stroller - Ingleisina Quid

Many parents think they need a stroller to lug all their baby travel gear through the airport, but it’s easy to use your baby carrier to get you through the airport. Besides, not having a stroller forces you to pack lightly, leaving non-essential baby travel gear at home.

If you are thinking of traveling with a stroller, be sure to read our post on baby carrier or stroller for travel before making your final decision.

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!

Best Baby Travel Gear 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 must haves.

using a nursing cover while hiking in Sedona with a baby - traveling with baby essentials
taking a break from hiking in Sedona to breastfeed our son

For breastfeeding and pumping moms, read our post on breastfeeding on a plane.

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 to a country where most restaurants will 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, if if your restaurants will have them, we’ve learned that having a travel high chair is very convenient for feeding a baby in hotel rooms or your Airbnb.

a baby sits nicely at the table in a travel high chair while having high tea with her family in London, England.
Using our travel high chair to have high tea in London with a baby

Once our baby was eating solid foods, we always traveled with a fabric 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, travel high chairs pack 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 best travel baby accessories
Feeding our son in a hotel room using a fabric travel high chair.

While there are some downsides to a simple fabric travel high chair, we cover them in this post which compares all the best travel high chairs.

You’ll also find all our recommendations for clip-on travel high chairs (like the Inglesina high chair) 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
Our kids were messy eaters. We kept our Airbnb clean by putting our daughter in her stroller with a washable bib on.

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
We used a silicone plate for meals in our Airbnb in Japan

We brought a silicone table mat with us on many family trips, including going to an all-inclusive resort with a baby (where all we did was eat!). These flexible and easily washable mats are especially useful in restaurants where you don’t want to risk breaking their glass plates.

14. Sippy Cup & Spill Proof Snack Cup

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

The Munchkin Snack Catcher is our favorite snack cup – it seems like every travel picture we have of our son, he’s holding one!

You can find even more spill proof snack cups for travel and the best travel sippy cups here.

a baby eats finger foods from a spill proof snack cup on a plane - travel essentials with baby

Baby Plane Travel Essentials

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 on the plane, let alone worrying about a bunch of bags filled with unnecessary baby travel gear.

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 sections above.

If you plan to fly with a stroller frequently, consider one of these best strollers for airplane travel with a stroller travel bag for extra protection.

Here are a few other baby flight essentials 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, but in our experience, 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.

protecting a baby from the sun at the White Sands National Park using a swaddle blanket - best baby gear for travel
I used a swaddle blanket to help protect our daughter from the sun at White Sands National Park.

Swaddle blankets are so versatile. They are perfect for giving your baby a place to play on the floor in that airport (if you don’t have one of these baby travel play mats), 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 Aden & Anais Muslin swaddle blankets so much, we even wrote an entire blog post on how useful these swaddle blankets are for travel with a baby!

using a swaddle blanket as a sun shade on a baby stroller - travelling essentials for baby
Protecting our baby from the sun using a swaddle blanket on the stroller

The best part is that you’ll keep using these even when you are traveling with a toddler! They are a bit expensive, but they are so versatile to traveling with small kids, 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. Two of our favorite baby travel toys include this one or this one.

We have several baby travel toys to entertain your baby on the plane listed here and even more in this list of travel toys for babies.

These baby travel mobiles also make excellent baby travel toys for on-the-go!

a baby has a pile of travel toys on a plane
Our daughter sites nicely on the plane with a lap full of travel toys

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 can be challenging sometimes
Accidents do happen when flying with a baby. Be prepared!

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 our portable diaper change pad so frequently that it definitely falls under the category of best baby gear! Find the best diaper change mat for your family from our curated list.

baby on portable change mat while hiking - a travel baby essentials

Don’t miss our best tips to turn a baby traveler into a child who loves to travel.

19. Backpack Diaper Bag

What about your diaper bag? Our experience taught us to have something that keeps your hands 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, but one of these best backpack diaper bags for travel will be much better for keeping your baby travel essentials organized.

See our full review of The Getaway Bag by No Reception Club. It has all the features parents need in a diaper bag 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.

We share all the best baby bathtubs for travel here.

portable bathtub for baby with smiling baby

21. Travel Baby Monitor

While we love the simplicity of using a baby monitor app for traveling, it’s not always the best solution. Downside of an app are that you need a strong consistent signal for it to work and you give up the use of two phones.

a travel baby monitor sits on a bookshelf

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 where your baby will be sleeping in a separate room.

See all our recommended baby travel monitors here.

our baby monitor watches our child sleep in a KidCo PeaPod Plus Travel Tent - a baby travel essential for sleeping
Our baby monitor watches our child sleep in a PeaPod Plus at an Airbnb in Japan

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 and a baby first aid kit 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 to Phoenix, AZ

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 travel essentials for baby 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.

Alternatives to Packing Baby Gear

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 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 rental car, 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 with your kids, 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. Do yourself a favor and download 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

Best Travel Potties

Best Toddler Travel Strollers

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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Best Baby Travel Essentials

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.

Celine also writes about family travel on the site, 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