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9 Best Packing Tips For Cruising With A Baby

These packing tips for cruising with babies and toddlers will help streamline your packing and make your trip less stressful. Focus on these cruise essential items when packing for babies or toddlers.

Many aspects of cruising with a baby can be stressful. But there’s no need for packing to be one of them. Babies and toddlers are small humans who often require lots of stuff to get through a typical day. One of the challenges of taking a cruise with a baby is figuring out how to accommodate all that additional stuff without hauling a large steamer trunk onto the ship.

These strategic packing tips for cruising with a baby will make the process easier and ensure you have everything you need for a fun cruise.

Packing Tips For Cruising With A Baby | Photo of infant playing on poolside lounger

1. Your Baby Essentials: Identify What You Can’t Live Without.

You should plan to pack everything that your baby or toddler will absolutely need on your trip.  Make a list identifying things that you would be very sad not to have for 3 days, e.g., items such as diapers, wipes, formula, and preferred baby medication.

You should not assume that you will have easy access to purchase necessary items that you forget or use up once you are on board your ship.  Although you can often find usual sundries on board – they may quickly run out of your preferred item.  Also, you will not always be able to find what you want when you want at any given port.

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2. Wait To Purchase Some Key Items Shortly Before Boarding. 

You can make packing easier by planning to arrive at your port city early and buying some basic items at a local store. You should research in advance to find out how far your preferred stores are from your hotel or the port. For instance, our favorite hotel near the Miami cruise port is less than two miles from a Target store.

You can easily purchase bulky items like diapers and wipes before you board (at major U.S. port cities). This reduces your packing and saves you money on checked luggage.  

Since you will consume things like diapers, wipes, and baby food on your trip, you shouldn’t have to worry about excess bags on your return trip.

3. Pack More Diapers & Wipes Than You Think You Would Ever Need.

Although people are generally advised against overpacking for a cruise, this is not always true when it comes to cruising with a baby. Do not be afraid to pack excess diapers or formula.

Even if you confirm that the ship generally sells diapers on board, do not rely on that. They may not have many in stock for your sailing or not have the size/type you need.  

You don’t want to run out in the middle of the ocean with one or two sea days between you and a store.

4. Pack An Ample Supply Of Baby Food & Formula As Necessary.

Every cruise ship will have abundant food choices for those who eat solid food.  The same is not true for baby food.  

Some cruise lines do not carry any baby food at all.  

Most of the lines that do provide baby food (whether complimentary or for a fee) will require advance notice — sometimes as much as 60-90 days advance notice.  Moreover, the brands and choices will be limited.  

You should plan to pack whatever food (or formula) you will need unless you have confirmed in advance that the kind of food you want will be available on board. (Note: On some ships, you may have an option to have whatever food is being served that day pureed.)  Check out our baby food cheat sheet to determine which cruise lines offer baby food.

Packing Tips For Cruising With A Baby | photo of mom holding toddler on beach watching the waves

5. Be Strategic About Your Stroller Choice.

You should plan to bring a lightweight travel stroller that can take some abuse without regrets.  

Most cruise lines do not provide access to strollers. The notable exceptions are Carnival and Disney. Disney provides access to complimentary strollers.  For a rental fee, Carnival provides single and double strollers for use on and off the ship.

A lightweight umbrella stroller will be useful when trying to move quickly about the ship and at the airport, etc.  But be mindful that for some shore excursions it can be more of a burden – if there are numerous steps, uneven ground, or mounds of sand. That said, while a stroller can be a real pain at the beach, it can be worth it to have a secure sheltered spot for your baby to nap.  

You should avoid taking any large deluxe Cadillac-type stroller that you might have.  A truly bulky stroller will take up way too much space in your room, even when folded up.  Also, some larger strollers may not fit easily through the door of your cabin when the stroller is in the open position.  This makes it very inconvenient to get in and out of your stateroom easily, and you may encounter a cruise line policy prohibiting you from leaving bulky strollers in the hallway.

Almost any lightweight stroller will work, but Kolcraft puts out one that has been my personal favorite.   

lightweight Kolcraft stroller
View on Amazon

I originally purchased mine years ago, but you can find the current version here on Amazon.  This stroller has a large basket underneath, which can store a wide range of family items when out and about, not just the baby’s.  It also has a multi-position recline, which is great for accommodating naps. 

For more recommendations on choosing an ideal stroller, check out our post on the best lightweight travel strollers.

6. Pack A Bottle Brush And Dish Soap.

Unless your child has mastered drinking out of a standard cup, you will want to bring along whatever bottles and sippy cups you need. You should also plan to bring the basic tools to wash them—a bottle brush and some dish soap.  

Although this might seem odd, you should not expect to find suitable dish soap. The type of liquid soap that you would typically find in the bathroom will very likely leave an unpleasant aftertaste.  Also, the soap that you may be able to get from your stateroom attendant will likely be industrial and not intended for use on food utensils.  

Either buy a small bottle of dish soap at a drugstore before you board or pour some into one of your toiletry bottles before you leave home.

7. Packing An Electric Sterilizer Will Make Your Life Easier.

Another thing to consider taking with you is a small electric bottle sterilizer. This idea had never occurred to me until I took a cruise with a baby on a Disney ship, and one magically appeared in our stateroom.

After that, when I traveled with a baby on other cruise lines, I made a point of packing my own. It made cleaning bottles, sippy cups, and pacifiers so much easier.  

Philips Electric Steam Sterilizer
View on Amazon

Even though the bathroom water can get quite hot, it was nice to have the additional sanitizing step available. The peace of mind alone was worth the small additional weight.

Many different types of electric sterilizers exist.  You should be able to find one that fits your luggage and price point.

For instance, typically, on Amazon, you can buy a Nuby One-Touch 2-in-1 Electric Baby Bottle Warmer & Sterilizer for less than $25.  It weighs a little over one pound and has a one-bottle capacity.  

There are also larger ones, yet still portable, like the Philips AVENT Electric Steam Sterilizer.  That one can hold six large bottles and accessories.  It weighs about 5 lbs.  There are also several other brands and models in the 1 to 5 lb range.   See search results for “electric steam sterilizer” in the Baby section.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Dr. Brown’s Deluxe Electric Sterilizer for Baby Bottles and Other Baby...
  • BABY BOTTLE AND PACIFIER STERILIZER. Sterilize up to six baby bottles at once, plus bottle parts, pacifiers and more.
  • SET IT & FORGET IT. Auto shut-off feature helps prevent overheating.
  • EASY TO OPERATE. Features easy-touch electronic controls with cycle indicators: heat cycle, cool down cycle, and ready cycle.
Bestseller No. 2
Papablic [Larget Capacity] Baby Bottle Electric Steam Sterilizer and Dryer,...
  • COMPLETE CLEAN: Penetrating steam at a higher temperature than your dishwasher for reliable sanitization.
  • 3-IN-1 DESIGN: With one twist of a dial, you can sterilize with steam, dry completely with hot air, and deodorize to clean from start to finish.
  • LARGE CAPACITY: Set-up the sanitizer with three different stacking options to clean up to 11 bottles and accessories like teethers, pacifiers, and plastic toys at once.
Bestseller No. 3
Philips AVENT Advanced Electric Steam Sterilizer, SCF291/00
  • Kills 99.9% of germs with natural steam; no chemicals required
  • Sterilizes in just 6 minutes with the press of a button; progress indicator light indicates when contents are sterile
  • Contents remain sterile for up to 24 hours when kept inside the sterilizer

8. Include A Pack or Two of Sanitizing Wipes.

A package of your favorite sanitizing wipes will be quite handy.  You can use the wipes for key areas in your cabin, clean dropped pacifiers bottles while traveling or on excursions, wiping down high chairs or boosters, and generally cleaning hands and surfaces when out and about in unknown circumstances.

9. Don’t Forget Your Infant Meds!

Finally, you should pack your preferred infant medications. Hopefully, you will never have to use them, but it’s better to pack them and never need them than be empty-handed and running around canvassing other passengers or trying to assess foreign language instructions from something you had to pick up in port.

Closing Thoughts

Going on a cruise with your baby can be lots of fun. The best way to enjoy it all is by being prepared. Packing the right items means focusing on the fun parts of your cruise, like seeing your baby’s smiles and exploring new places together. So, pack carefully, remember the essentials, and prepare for a great adventure.

Elaine Warren

Founder & Crew Chief

Elaine founded this website after publishing the book The Family Cruise Companion’s Guide to Cruising With Kids. She has sailed on 40 cruises (and counting). She loves helping families navigate their way to an adventure-filled, fun, and memorable vacation.

For more tips and guidance on preparing and packing for a cruise with your baby or toddler, download a free copy of our Family Cruise Pack & Prep Checklist.

You can also check out some of our favorite cruise accessories on this page.

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Last update on 2024-06-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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