Kim’s Finds
an independent guide to navigating the mommy market


I once joked that I prepared MORE for my first (solo) cross-country plane trip with my baby... than I did for combat flights over Afghanistan or Iraq. This is the honest truth. Thus, in my opinion, planning for a worst case flight scenario (delays, flight bumps, motion sickness, a blow out, a change of clothes for you) will give you confidence in handling anything that you might encounter during your travels.  Here is my “multiple flights in one day”, comprehensive checklist....however, feel free to pair down, as desired, for one leg flights:

Kim’s Packing Checklist for Air Travel with Baby (and older kids)

Diapers - One for each hour in transit, plus extras in case of delays

Wipes – bring more than you think you will need, a medium sized pack

Diaper rash cream – baby’s bum bum may need some extra TLC for the flight

Diaper pad - to put under your baby during diaper changes, the lavatory changing tables that fold down from the wall are super small and probably haven’t been cleaned in months (see “Clorox/ Earth’s Best/BabyGanics sanitizing wipes” below)

Plastic Ziploc-type Bags – for spit-up clothes, poop clothes, dirty washcloths, dirty diapers, sticky feeding spoons, etc.

  1.         Plastic bag with disposable sanitizing wipes (especially during cold and flu season) – whether you prefer Clorox, Babyganics, or generic wipes…I always wipe down the area before baby is seated...arm rests, tray tables, anything she might touch. When traveling alone, you will have to do this step once baby is seated in your lap…or not at all, if you are really rushed.

Small bottles of Hand Sanitizer – I like Babyganics hand sanitizing foam, with no alcohol.

Blankets – I bring (2) thin receiving blankets for multiple uses: to lay your baby on the seat, cover your baby, cover yourself while nursing, to shade baby from sunlight or a neighbor’s reading light, to make a playmat for the floor during long layovers, and much much more.

Washcloths – for spit-up, nursing coverage, solid food clean-up

  1.           Tissues – Sometimes baby’s mouth is getting wiped just prior to boarding and noses are often runny, so it is nice to have a disposable option for hand and face cleaning.

Extra pacifiers (if your baby uses one) – you may also want to pack some pacifier friendly wipes, if you just can’t handle airport germs on your baby’s binky.

  1.         Something Old, Something New (small toys and books) -  I recommend bringing your child’s favorite (small) toys and books in a small, ditty keep them all together.  You may also want to visit the Dollar Store before your flight to stock up on some new items for the trip. Suggestions for Baby: a colorful hanging toy with many arms, a favorite teether, a small OXO spatula. Suggestions for toddlers: airplane books (Airplanes by Byron Barton, Airport by Byron Barton, Amazing Airplanes by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker), finger puppets, a collapsible hand puppet (Elmo is our favorite), small hand-held books, a travel size magna doodle, an iPad with toddler apps. Suggestions for older kids: thin or small books, a deck of cards, a travel magna doodle, a handheld DVD player, an MP3 player, an iPad with educational apps.  

Clothes, socks, and booties or shoes – bring (2-3) changes, especially if your baby is prone to spitting up. Leaks can also happen with greater frequency, due to the constant sitting/squishing the diaper around on your lap. Also, if your baby likes to rub or pull their socks off, I recommend wearing pants with feet on the plane.

Formula, water, and juice if appropriate. (tip: put apple or fruit juice in a bottle to “back-up” your ascent & descent nursing/formula feeding plan). Bottom line: you want to keep baby swallowing during the climb-out and approach phases of the flight.  Also, not sure about what you are allowed to bring onboard?  TSA says, “When traveling with your infant or toddler, in the absence of suspicious activity or items, greater than 3 ounces of baby formula, breast milk, or juice are permitted through the security checkpoint in reasonable quantities for the duration of your itinerary, if you perform the following:

- Separate these items from the liquids, gels, and aerosols in your quart-size and zip-top bag.

- Declare you have the items to one of our Security Officers at the security checkpoint.

- Present these items for additional inspection once reaching the X-ray. These items are subject to additional screening.

- You are encouraged to travel with only as much formula, breast milk, or juice in your carry-on needed to reach your destination.

- You are allowed to bring gel or liquid-filled teethers, canned, jarred, or processed baby food in your carry-on baggage and aboard your plane.”

Extra bottles, nipples, and sippy cups if needed for multiple children.

•If nursing, a Breast pump (if you use one, remember baby may not eat regularly during travel) and a nursing pillow – I used a “My Best Friend” inflatable, travel pillow and loved it! My older, heavier baby was hard to hold in nursing position properly, so this durable “blow-up” pillow was a life saver on multiple cross country trips (my husband grew up in Montana). This pillow also gave her a comfortable place to sleep during long layovers (You may not need this for shorter, one leg flights).  Also, consider putting all things “feeding” into your breast pump’s backpack. This will help consolidate food/juice/formula items for TSA…and if all else fails, just start talking about “breast stuff” and they should move you right on through the line.  

Baby food and snacks – bring your child’s favorite solid foods.  TSA allows enough baby food for a day’s trip, including juice (leave extra time to go through security). The brand “Plum Organics” makes great foods in squeezable pouches. Other not-too-messy snacks for the plane: puffs, yogurt melts, Cheerios, or whole wheat bread in a ziploc bag….all to get your little one chewing during cabin pressure changes! For older kids, bags of veggies (cucumbers, carrots), chilled grapes, pretzels, raisins, Craisins, peanut butter crackers, orange wedges, apples dipped in lemon juice, etc. make great non-sugary snacks.

Baby pain reliever, Saline Nose Solution, and supplies for treating minor injuries - Prevent leaks by packing medicines and toiletries in plastic bags.

Sling or front carrier – this works great while boarding the plane (after you have checked your stroller in at the gate, especially if you are traveling alone with your baby)

Car seat for safer travel by car or plane – use the straps to wear it like a backpack, or bring your car seat/stroller travel system, if you are not concerned with too much bulk

Collapsible stroller – we use a cheap umbrella stroller for longer, cross country trips that do not require a lot of stroller use. However, for one leg trips, or for trips that will require a lot of stroller use...bring your favorite stroller. Just make sure to cover it with some type of bag (black grease will otherwise find its way to your canvas hood and seat. Trust me on this one!)

Energy-boosting snacks for You if traveling alone with baby, you may not have time for a food stop during a short layover.

Change of clothes for You – don’t think it can’t happen to you…baby’s inner ear is extremely sensitive, and they can puke all over you faster than you can say, “Bluh!”. Also, put each of baby’s outfits into individual plastic bags so you don’t have to hunt for small socks, etc… and consider buying “mesh packing cubes”, if you travel often. We use Rick Steve’s packing cubes; they keep items separate yet together inside of a backpack (one cube is all toys, one clothing, one blankets & burp cloths, etc. Ditty bags can also be used for this purpose.

  1.        Camera, battery charger, and an extra memory card.

  2.        Cell phone and charger - Take the phone number of your baby's healthcare provider in case you have questions while you're on the road.

  3.        Diaper Bag - You might want to consider transferring your typical diaper bag to a rolling carry-on bag. I do this when traveling alone with baby, so that I can roll the “diaper bag” behind the stroller vs. having a heavy diaper bag on one arm and a heavy baby on the other. Ouch, my arms hurt just thinking about that! Packing cubes can help organize items inside of a bigger bag.

•        Special Treats: these include “emergency items” that can be brought out to ease a meltdown situation….cookies, puffs, or lollipops to lick (while supervised), a new toy, a DVD player or iPad with Baby Einstein movies or an Elmo app... you get the picture.

Other Tips:

  1. 1)Car Seat, or No Car Seat?  If you need a car seat at your destination, then you can bring it and “Gate Check” it just prior to boarding (for a lap baby without a ticket). Otherwise, my husband and I usually look for creative ways to not have to bring a car seat. We rent a car seat when we rent a car at our destination, or we borrow one from family members (or their friends). Also, when traveling to big cities (ie. NYC), we...(admittedly)... put our baby in our lap and pray for safe taxi rides and subway trips. Of course, that’s not very PC...the FAA (and the Wealthy Mommies of America) will tell you to buy an extra ticket for your 18 month old, keep them safely strapped into a car seat for two flights, and all will be well....but that’s not really how it works. 

  2. 2)Infant ticket, or no ticket?  Call me frugal, however we enjoy taking full advantage of the “Children under 2” free travel pass. With that said, we always try to make friends with the airline employees and request a seat change for a “full row” (depending on the plane configuration).  This almost always works. If not, then I wait until we have boarded the plane...and then I courageously and shamelessly ask someone to switch seats (which works well when my husband and I are traveling together).

  3. 3)When to plan your flight? Flights that are earlier in the day are less likely to be delayed. Otherwise, with a younger baby, you might consider booking a flight during nap time. With toddlers and pre-schoolers, I would suggest a flight time after wake-up, or following a morning nap, if possible.

  4. 4)What to wear?  Dress comfortably, of course, however that doesn’t mean that you should roll the family straight out of bed and directly to the airport. Just as with a job interview, people are more likely to be helpful if you (and your kids) are dressed respectably.   I am not suggesting that we return to the 1960’s, wearing our Sunday best, however a little bit of effort in this department can go a long way.  

  5. 5)When to board? If there are two of you, you might consider sending one aboard early (to ensure plenty of room for your carry-on luggage, to wipe down the area with sanitizing wipes, and to “set up” for takeoff...placing snacks, books, and sippy cups in the seat pockets for the climb out)....and one to stay back with your child.  Toddlers, especially, will appreciate the extra time to walk, play, and explore the airport, as a child should not be expected to sit and sit for hours without needing to move around. If you are alone, I would board early to set up shop and get baby comfortable with their surroundings.

  6. 6) Prepare children for air travel and involve them in the trip planning. Before your trip, read books about airplanes to toddlers or preschoolers. Visit a local airport. Get your child excited about flying and teach them about all of the phases of flight.

®kim’s 2011

Kim’s Favorite Travel Items

my brest friend inflatable nursing pillow

If you are nursing, or if you simply want your lap baby to sleep comfortably on the plane...then My Brest Friend will be your “brest friend” for air travel with baby. It is compact and fairly easy to inflate. My larger, older baby especially appreciated the support while feeding, and it made the climb-outs and descents comfortable for her ears since she was happily swallowing milk. So, if your baby is a not-so-consistent nurser in public, or does not have her own seat (with her car seat to sleep in).....then this inflatable offering is a “must have” travel substitute for your Boppy.

J.L. childress gate check bag (car seat)

If you are checking in your car seat at the gate (ie. for a lap baby on a full flight), you might want to protect your seat with this inexpensive bag. Who wants to arrive to your destination with a dirty, wet, or otherwise poorly handled car seat?  If you are carrying your car seat on board with you, then don’t bother, however if your seat is going outside...then this is $10 well spent.

J.L. childress gate check bag (stroller)

This comes in a standard and double stroller size and will protect your stroller from black grease and unruly baggage handling. Trust me, no one is concerned about the well being of your stroller; baggage handling is all about getting the plane off on time. Also, don’t forget to put this protective bag with your Carry-on Luggage, especially during hectic departures. I have stashed this bag away in a suitcase pocket that was later checked baggage (duh!)....only to realize that I needed it later.

rick Steve’s packing cubes

These packing cubes are amazing. My husband and I used them on a back-packing honeymoon to Europe, and now they are super helpful to us as parents.  Organize your carry-on luggage or suitcase into separate bags for quick, targeted access (compartmentalize the diaper changing bag, the washcloth/blanket/burp cloth bag, the toy bag, the feeding supplies bag, etc. 

 ditty bags: any brand

Control your own personal “children’s yard sale” in the airport and on the plane. These little bags are great for bundling up toys, washcloths, blankets, or any other items that you would like to keep handy (mine has critical toys, tiny books, puppets, tissues, a small Babyganics bottle of hand sanitizer, and a ziploc bag of sanitizing wipes).  Ditty bags can be found with camping equipment or travel gear in most major stores.

for baby...Happy Melts 
organic yogurt melts

My baby could dissolve these in her mouth by 7 months old, and they were a great way to keep her swallowing during a long descent...especially when she quit nursing. They are also great snacks to occupy your older baby during your own meals, and they are much easier to access than baby food.

CARES: Kids Fly Safe Harness

If you fly often, you might want to try this....CARES, the Child Aviation Restraint System, is the only harness type child aviation safety restraint  ever certified for airplane travel by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). CARES is an elegantly designed belt and buckle device for kids 22-44 pounds  that is easy to use and creates a safe airplane seat for your child without the hassle of carrying a 20 pound car seat. CARES weighs just 1 pound and fits into a 6" stuff sack!  It is simple to install, adjustable to virtually any size airplane seat, and keeps your child as safe as a car seat would. Winner of numerous awards from various media groups: Good Housekeeping, iParenting, Dr. Toy, the national Parenting Center, etc.

Trader joe’s Freeze Dried Fruit

These are perhaps my favorite “no-mess snacks” for travel. Why? Because they are not made “just for baby”, meaning marked up in price...and because the ingredient list is very short (the bag reads... Ingredients: Mango). My daughter loves the bananas, mangoes, and strawberries...just be prepared to break them into smaller pieces before popping them into your baby’s mouth.

Organic food pouches:
Trader joe’s Apple Carrot Crushers
Plum Organics, ella’s, sprout,or revolution

Food pouches can be a great way to feed baby and toddlers on the go. I like Trader Joe’s Apple Carrot crushers because on average, they are $.30-.50 cheaper than Plum Organics and other pouch brands. Nevertheless, many of the blends mix fruits and vegetables (which is helpful for a picky eater)...and the design of the pouch makes them fun to eat. Just be sure to remove the cap before handing it over to your toddler. And also, be prepared for baby’s hands to squeeze a “big messy geyser”, without close supervision. Otherwise, I would choose food pouches with veggies & fruit over puffs any day, as a nutritious on the go snack!

Summer Infant Tiny Diner placemat

Some may disagree with me, however as a parent who likes to eat out and travel...I can’t say enough about this place mat. It folds and then rolls up into a small cylinder shape, washes easily, catches stray food, suctions to any table, and otherwise provides a great eating surface for children who can’t keep their food on a plate.  My daughter also loves pointing to the cat, cow, and dog...$11 well spent.

SippiGrip Holder by Booginhead

The combination of the Tiny Diner placemat and the SippiGrip allows me time to eat my own food (when dining out)...and for that, these products have my endorsement. You see... I struggle with limited patience, and I do not enjoy the “pick the sippy cup off the floor every minute” game. That is not a fun game for me. 

Thus, I attach the SippiGrip to everything... high chairs, shopping carts, the it is an easy to use, mom invented, germ prevention, on-the-go product. The SippiGrip is also hand washable, durable, reusable and non-toxic for little mouths (because it will also dub as a makeshift teether, too).