How to Pack the Perfect Toddler Carry On for Your Next Family Trip

Trish ~ Labor Nurse Mama
August 8, 2019

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WindstoneFarmsPB #CollectiveBias

First off, let's just get this out there in the open. I'm not sure there is such a thing as a perfect toddler carry-on. You're gonna miss something and you're gonna hate it but life goes on. Forgive yourself if you do. It's ok. But here's to hoping this list helps you get close enough to the perfect toddler carry on that you can pack.

Why I am here and who I am:

Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama. I am a labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of high-risk OB experience. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6. This means I am quite familiar with the postpartum period and how to navigate it. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society, a pregnancy & postpartum membership community! I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey! You can find me over on IG teaching over 230k mamas daily. I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey!

We make a small commission from some of the links (you don’t pay any more for using our links); however some of the recommendations, we do not earn anything; we love ’em and want you to know about them. Click here for our full disclosure. Thank you!

So here's the golden nugget of all nuggets in this post. Pack the best you can and then be flexible. Traveling with a toddler has become second nature to this tired mom and so has knowing how to accommodate when I forget something. Like last winter when we went to Sea World and I forgot to put shoes on his feet.

So when we go to London this fall, we are gonna be as prepared as possible with the perfect toddler carry on and ready for adventure.

I have packed many carry-ons for toddlers and will probably continue to pack many more in the future.

Either way, in case you plan to travel with your little toddler in tow, take a minute and check out my hard-earned and well-practiced list of toddler carry on essentials.

Read this: Check out this Little Boutique Hotel in Little Rock

1 | Backpack

Girl, buy that baby a backpack and let your little toddler carry it like a big boy! (or girl!)

Choose a backpack that is going to be efficient but not too heavy. It's smart to have a couple of compartments and side pockets for things you want to grab quickly.

  • Separate the compartments into sections. One section for activities and one for snacks for the plane.
  • Use one side pocket for an empty water bottle, and the other side for a small container with a quick snack.
  • A wheeled backpack can be easier to move but heavier to carry.
  • Order a customized name tag with ONLY ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER.
2 | Snacks

Ok, this is an important part. You have to choose wise snacks so that your fellow flight mates (What are they called, am I brain dead?) don't hurt you if your toddler is suddenly on a sugar high.

There are a few key things I think when I pack snacks for my family, especially for my toddlers carry on. I think low sugar and healthy protein.

My family is obsessed with peanut butter, like OBSESSED. Which makes it my obvious choice for my toddlers carry on bag. (My purse, my car, my house, and pretty much everywhere)

When I found out about Windstone Farms Creamy Peanut Butter Portable Packets I had to try it! This delish peanut butter is new at Walmart and conveniently located right there in the peanut butter aisle. (You can also use Ibotta to earn .50 cents back while supplies last)

I thought it was also pretty cool that Windstone Farms Peanut butter has been family owned & operated for 35 years, and packaged in Louisville, KY (My moms home town!)

Windstone Farms peanut butter comes in travel-friendly 1.15 oz squeezable packets which makes my life easier. Why because it's already in travel-friendly, TSA approved size packets, which means I can use them on the plane and toss them.

Wait, what? I can squeeze the peanut butter out onto Grey's crackers right there on the airplane.

Remember for your toddler carry on you are being purposeful in choosing snacks and the fact that these are 7G of protein and naturally gluten-free makes it a mom win.

Next, to go along with my stash of Windstone Farm's peanut butter packets, we need snacks.

Think things like:



Oatmeal Packets (Ask the flight attendant to bring you hot water and then squeeze your Winstone Farms peanut butter into the oatmeal. Bam, it's a healthy meal for your toddler!

Trail Mix (depending on the age of your toddler)

I like to use a divided lunch box to keep Grey's snacks handy and then put them into a separate section of his toddler carry on bag.

PS: This is me going back for another box of this amazing tasting peanut butter because I ate them all before I could take my pictures for this post. Be on the lookout for a demo at a Walmart near you where you can try the NEW Windstone Farms Creamy Peanut Butter Portable Packets, August 8-10. (You can also purchase it using Walmart online grocery pickup!)

3 | Activities

This part is entirely dependant on the age of your toddler/preschooler. So what you pack in your toddler carry on is catered to your particular child's need.

For Greyson, I pack several new and quiet items with old beloved ones.

For our trip to England I am packing the following:

  • Ipad Mini with a toddler hardy case.
  • Dry erase learning book
  • Rubik's cube (maybe entertainment for us too)
  • I spy cards
  • Magnetic games and activities
  • quiet and non-messy crayons and paper!
  • small books to read to him when it's “bedtime”

You might also consider throwing in a pack of wipes in the bag. Unless you have a baby and a diaper bag, this is a necessity in a toddler carry on. We used almost a whole pack on our trip to LA in June!


After packing snacks and activities into my toddler carry on, I then pack a small stuffed animal, a compact pillow, and a lightweight blanket.

Inside my carry on, I add extra clothing and pajamas because you never know what can happen on a trip.

I hope this helps you guys prepare for your next trip with your sweet toddler.

Be sure to head to Walmart and try the new Windstone Farms Peanut Butter Packets and let me know what you think. Don't be like me and eat an entire box, I'm not kidding this stuff is amazing peanut butter!

labor nurse mama trish ware

Just a little Disclaimer: As always, I am just writing my thoughts and what I’ve learned along the way. Although I am in fact a labor and delivery RN, This is not medical advice. You should always seek and follow the advice of your care provider.

This post may contain some affiliate links (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission, but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Thank you! For our full disclosure read here)


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