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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.)