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How to pack for Toddlers on the Plane

Posted by on November 4, 2011

toddler on plane


Expect to actively entertain your toddler during the flight. Toddlers have short attention spans and need near-constant engagement to stay happy. If you’re lucky your child will sleep for part of the trip. I wasn’t lucky, Ella very rarely slept. (Well, I was lucky because she was always very good. But she refused to sleep.) As I advised with packing for infants, packing minimally is not really the best thing. Pack everything you might need but keep it as small and light as possible. Try to keep everything easily accessible so you don’t have to search for things when your child is getting impatient.

Most airlines’ inflight policies state that when using devices with audio (DVD players, iPod touch) you are required to use headsets or turn off the volume. Please remember that not everyone wants to listen to toddler shows. Get headsets for your toddler. If he refuses to wear them let him watch the shows with no volume. When he’s interested enough in hearing it he will wear the headsets. When Ella first started wearing the headsets she would wear them for about 10 minutes at a time. Then on to the next activity!

What to pack in the backpack:

toddler bag pack
Toddler change of clothes; Adult change of clothes; 6-10 OVERNIGHT diapers; diaper wipes; changing pad; antibacterial wipes; tissues; quart-size Ziploc bag with: Play-Doh, fever reducing medicine, prescription meds (if needed), hand sanitizer; Orajel swabs; Thermometer; Water Wow Doodle book; Crayola Color Wonder book and markers; stickers; small stuffed animal; Littlest Pet Shop toys; Blanket; Adult sweater; toddler sweater; 4-6 plastic grocery bags (for trash, etc.); iPod touch or DVD player; Headphones for toddler; iPod and ear buds for me; power adapter or back up battery; charger for phone;
(not pictured: purse or billfold–don’t forget them!)


Overnight diapers are a must. Sometimes you are unable to change a diaper when you would like to due to turbulence and the seatbelt sign. Whenever I was unable to change Ella’s diaper in the last hour of the flight her diaper leaked on descent. It must be the change in air pressure. An overnight diaper usually solves the leaking problem. Another idea is to put a plastic diaper cover over the diaper.

What to pack in the lunchbox:

Toddler lunch box
Two milk boxes; two juice boxes; cookies; Luna or Balance Bars; lollipops; fruit strips; fruit snacks; M&M’s; applesauce; Grammy Sammy; Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches; Cheese sticks; plate; toddler utensils; bib; antibacterial wipes; diaper wipes


The trade off for the convenience of bringing your own milk/juice boxes from home is having to separate those at security and step aside for additional screening on them. I felt it was usually worth it. Otherwise bring a sippy cup to fill with beverages you purchase in the airport. Many airlines do not cater milk on their flights that depart after 10am so plan to provide your own.

If you follow these lists you should have practically everything you need. I usually bring even more food and small toys but probably only end up using half of them. It’s always better to pack more than you need than to be in need of something. Again, just keep items small so you can manage your bags and your potentially squirmy toddler.

(This post was written by me and  first published at The Third Boob. Special thanks to them for allowing me to include it here.)



31 Responses to How to pack for Toddlers on the Plane

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  10. Rachael

    This is good. I’ve been researching a lot on taking a child on a flight (doing so soon) and it all seems to be the same, I’ve learned some new things here 🙂

    • Beth Henry

      Thanks for your comment, Rachel! I am happy I could help provide some new information. How old is your child? Feel free to send me any questions you have via Facebook, Twitter, or here on the webpage. Happy CloudSurfing!!!

  11. Ashley

    A lot of those snacks and drinks are full of sugar. I would have a completely out of control and bonkers kid if I fed him even two of those snacks. I appreciate the toy ideas but we will stick to healthy sugar free snacks and water for our flight. I am sure he will be amped up from excitement without hundreds of added grams of sugar.

    • 423234

      obviously you can substitute your own snacks. But you just HAD to criticizing her … sheesh

    • tjolly

      Nothing annoys me most than a judgemental parent. Clearly her blog offered mere suggestions. Clearly you do what is best for you, your family and children. Next time if you feel the need to post. Just simply say “thank you.” #sheesh

    • Beth Henry

      Thanks for your comment, Ashley. Of course you know your children best and should pack snacks that work best for them. Surprisingly sugar doesn’t affect Ella adversely and so it’s okay for us to use as an occasional rare treat. This is just an example of what I packed for Ella at this age.

    • Beth @CloudSurfingKids

      Thanks for your comment, Ashley. Of course you know your children best and should pack snacks that work best for them. Surprisingly sugar doesn’t affect Ella adversely and so it’s okay for us to use as an occasional rare treat. This is just an example of what I packed for Ella at this age. I show it to give parents an idea of what amount of snacks is wise to pack. Adjust them to your child’s nutritional need and your personal preferences.

  12. ladyjorchard

    How long of a flight was this for? I’m packing for a 2 hour flight do I really need that much stuff? Or was this for an international flight? And yeah my kids would be fine with “those surgery drinks”. jealous much

    • Beth Henry

      I pack this much for any flight, two or ten hour. The reality is that any given day your two hour flight could turn into a full day of flying with possible delays or diversions. Luckily that doesn’t usually happen, but when traveling with toddlers it pays to be prepared. No judgment from me about “that sugary juice”. My kids don’t really like juice, but chocolate is another story!

  13. Cloud Surfing Mom

    Lindsay, how did the flight go?

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