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Flying with a Baby and Toddler: The Baby Travel Gear You Need For a Smooth Landing

You want to minimize turbulence. Here's how.

Flying with babies and toddlers isn’t anyone’s definition of happy hour. It requires tons of extra stuff, some of which is optional but makes life easier, from travel toys, pillows, and trays to airplane beds and baby headphones. Right or wrong, baby travel conjures up horrifying images of red-faced, screaming kids and their harried, frustrated parents. Traveling with kids will inevitably involve a few spills, meltdowns, or glares from strangers, much of which is out of your control. But a bit of planning and the right equipment can help.

Arrive at the airport early, pack enough snacks to avoid any pre-boarding temper tantrums, and bring a select amount of toys to keep them occupied during the flight. Have kids snack on something during takeoff so their ears don’t pop, consider noise-canceling headphones if they rely on silence or white noise to fall asleep, and ditch any guilt about screen time. If all else fails, know that when traveling with kids, it really is about the destination,  not the journey.

Best Baby Travel Gear

This lightweight bag has numerous carrying handles as well as two padded backpack straps for sherpa-ing it through the airport. It's made of puncture resistant, water-proof nylon and is designed to keep your car seat germ-free. A pair of drawstring closures and a velcro flap help secure car seats within it and it works with nearly every brand. Once the seat is out it folds into a small carrying pouch.

This car seat travel bag has wheels, is made from heavy-duty, water-resistant polyester fabric, and also has shoulder straps if you do want to tote it around.

Load up this travel tray with all your kid's favorite toys and crafts. While this is billed as being for car seats, we don't recommend it for that use, because it likely hasn't been crash-tested. However, it's great for flights, because it fits onto the tray, and it keeps your kid's stuff contained and within easy reach. No more whining about crayons falling behind seats, or toy cars going missing. It has an attachable storage compartment that can be removed or collapsed to reveal an extra large surface area, if needed, and folds up easily.

Kids get bored in airports. So, so bored. Can't blame them. They'll love this suitcase, which they can sit on, ride on, or roll. It holds up to 75 pounds, and converts to a bedroom storage trunk when your little road warrior isn't on the go.

Any parent knows that leaving home without a supply of snacks is a rookie mistake. We like this stackable snack container, which can also hold formula, so your kid is never whining about an empty tummy. It includes one 10-ounce container, two 6-ounce containers, and one easy-pour lid.

One of the most inventive piece of travel gear we've found: A portable bottle heater. All you need to do is pour hot water into the warmer and seal the top, then immerse baby bottles or food in the warmer.

Napping on planes will save parents' sanity. Getting kids to nap? Good luck. Hopefully, it will be easier once you transform an armrest into a very cute pillow. So you think this is just a blanket? Wrong! It's a penguin toy, a blanket, and a travel pillow. When you remove the travel blanket from inside the penguin, it slides onto the armrest, turning it into a pillow.

Changing a soiled diaper on a plane is a particularly humbling part of parenting.Deposit the dirty diaper in the bag, tie it up, and no one will be the wiser. The bags are lavender-scented, as a bonus.

If you're flying with your three-month-old baby on your lap, you need this LapBaby. The Primo LapBaby attaches to your waist, leaving your hands free to play with your kid, or dare to a book. Your tot can eat, play and engage with you during the flight while staying securely attached. When you land, it folds up and stows away in a small cloth travel bag.

The LÍLLÉbaby carrier gives you six options for carrying your baby, from birth onward. It has adjustable seat and leg openings that facilitate proper hip support, frog-leg seating, and curved C-spine position. The straps are adjustable, so parents of various body shapes and sizes can figure out what position suits them best and is most comfortable. And it has a headrest.

Best Travel Toys

Toddlers will stay busy getting this doll dressed five different ways, and strengthen their fine motor skills by pulling the doll's zipper up and down, fastening the pockets, and doing buttons. It's machine-washable, and comes with a carry clip, so you can attach to anything.

This is the perfect portable design studio for preschoolers. It comes with a nice, wide storage tray to keep all the supplies contained. Kids match and snap the chunky buttons to complete the pictures of a frog, bird, house, tree, truck, and other stuff they'll love and recognize.

Kids can spend hours building and rearranging these suction toys and sticking them to the seat in front of them. The carrying case makes transporting and cleaning them up even easier.

Instead of lugging along paper and markers, get your toddler this erasable drawing board.

Speaking of portable art, here's a stellar portable chalkboard, composed of 12 pages. The chalk that comes with the book is dust-free, and it's a brilliant way to keep kids focused and channel their creativity during long, endless flights.

Kids four and up can set up a vet clinic on the go, and when they're done, everything packs up nicely in its own carry case. You can choose a pirate playset, or a knight playset. Each one comes with figures and accessories, so kids can play on the plane and pack everything up before landing.

What we love about this magnetic maze toy: It's quiet, it's engaging, and there are no little tiny pieces that will fall off and go missing, thereby rendering the toy last year's news. It keeps them quietly entertained in airplanes and works hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, too. It's a win-win.

Babies love throwing toys on the ground and having you pick them up. Beat them at their own game with this ingenious creation, which suctions on to the tot's tray and keeps their toys in place.

Naturally, one of our go-to brands does it again. This time, with a portable sorter set that's going to keep your kiddo happy and entertained. Created for kids nine months and older, Melissa & Doug's sorter set comes in a padded case with two activity sides, and nine textured blocks in various colors and shapes.

Hours of fun! You fill the water pen, kids paint with the giant brush, and each stroke reveals part of the hidden image. When the page dries, the picture disappears and they can start again.

This sticker pad set makes for no-mess arts and crafts that are easily transportable. Kids can spend hours choosing eyes, noses, and mouths for all different animal templates, making them as silly or realistic as they please.

This tangram kit weighs no more than your average children's book but lets your kid complete dozens of puzzles. The magnetic board features seven colorful blocks that serve as the foundation for all different figures. Kids use the blocks to try and replicate different shapes, with solutions for each one shown on the backside of each page.

Travel Diaper Bags and Changing Kits

This compact diaper bag comes with a roll-out changing pad featuring sturdy sides, so baby won't roll onto the dirty airport floor or plane seat. It has four compartments and seven pockets, so everything you need has a place and is easy to find.

Airport and airplane changing stations are gross. Save yourself with this kit. It has a built-in cushion for your baby's head, so there's ostensibly less screaming and you get things done quicker.

Weighing just over a pound when empty, this Maman option is great for travel. It fits everything you need thanks to its eight pockets, including two insulated side pockets for drinks, wipes clean and features a changing pad.

Travel Strollers

If you're gonna spring for an upgraded travel stroller, get the Bugaboo. It weighs 15 pounds and is the size of a carry-on when folded. It has all the amenities parents want, like a roomy storage basket, a reversible and reclinable seat and integrated all-wheel suspension, and it fits into most overhead bins.

This brilliant travel stroller has a two-step folding process and fits right into the overhead bin. No more gate checks! It weighs just 9.5 pounds and can accommodate a child from 6 months up to 55 pounds as well as 11 pounds of gear in its storage basket. Sold.

On the less pricey side is the Delta Children stroller. It's suitable for children up to 50 pounds, fits the Disney stroller requirements, and weighs less than 12 pounds. It folds right up and goes into its travel bag.

Travel Beds

Just when we thought we'd seen it all: A diaper bag that turns into a bassinet and doubles as a changing station. Suitcase straps make it easy to transport.

Kids can ride on this suitcase, sure. But it fits most economy seats on planes and folds out into a bed. The lid of the suitcase and the extension plate elongate the seat to create a larger surface area while the mattress and side panels create a comfortable space for kiddo to rest.

This seat extender lets kids lay down flat and get some shut-eye. It weighs less than a pound and folds right up into a bag when you're not using it. One caveat: Make sure your airline allows it, because a handful do not.

The Guava portable travel crib is easy to set up (we're talking less than a minute) and is made without any flame retardants. The mesh exterior allows for full airflow and a clear view of your child. And it folds into a 13 pound backpack when you're done.

If you have a newborn, this is the travel crib for you. This go-anywhere bassinet weighs less than two-and-a-half pounds and has a built-in carrying handle. To break it down, all you have to do is push the four release buttons and fold it in half, but your baby won't be able to accidentally fold it up. Mesh sides ensure the baby enjoys a comfortable snooze and the removable, water-resistant mattress pad and fitted sheet set are included. It's also quite affordable.

This dome-shaped crib from Fisher-Price has a canopy that'll keep your baby safe from sun and bugs if you decide to have a picnic. It's great for travel because it folds flat easily, and it's great for sleeping because it's totally flat, as doctors recommend. It's suitable for babies up to five months.

Noise-Cancelling Wireless Headphones For Kids

These headphones are built to last, and thanks to their shareport kids can share audio and watch a movie together without a splitter. The max volume on these kids' headphones is set at 93db with internal 40mm drivers and a range of 20Hz to 20kHz. They're not wireless, but that allows them to plug into airplane TVs.

These volume-limiting noise-cancelling headphones for kids give you up to 22 hours of playtime and 200 hours of standby on a single charge. They protect eardrums with an 85 decibel limit. They're foldable, lightweight, and make daily noise and background sounds up to 22 decibels quieter. The bluetooth feature lets them connect to almost any device, while the optional cable plugs into airplane TVs and lets kids listen when the headphones need to be charged.

These kids' headphones have a volume limit of 85 dB to help prevent noise-induced hearing loss. The cups are lightweight and cushioned, so they're comfortable enough to be worn on long flights. They isolate 82 percent of ambient noise. And kids get 18 hours of playtime on a single charge.

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