Diaper Bags Count As Carry On? Baby-Rules & Tips When Flying

Flying with an infant isn’t ideal, but it is necessary a lot of the time. 

Whether you are taking your baby to meet relatives across the country, or you just want your family to see the world together, you’ll have to pack your little one up to get everyone through the flight.

Do diaper bags count as a carry-on? In most instances, diaper bags will count against your carry-on limit. Diaper bags are considered as a personal item, which means it will have to meet the size requirements laid out by your airline. You should always check with your specific airline before your scheduled flight to find out their regulations on bringing diaper bags on the plane.

You may have to sacrifice your laptop in order to bring your diaper bag on the plane with you, but those essentials will do wonders for you and your baby during your flight. 

Continue reading below to find out more about flying with your infant.

The Rules for Taking a Diaper Bag on a Flight

All airlines have a carry-on limit for each passenger. Depending on whether you are flying with your infant in your lap for free or you sprung for the extra ticket so they could have their own seat, you may still be confused about how to count your diaper bag.

Most airlines will not exempt your diaper bag from your carry-on limit. 

If you are planning to fly with an infant, the most common rule you will find for your flight is each passenger can have one carry on and one personal item. 

Personal items are described as a purse, briefcase, or laptop bag. However, diaper bags fall into this category as well.

Before you get all the way to the airport, it’s a good idea to look up or even call and ask about the rules for your specific airline when it comes to carry-ons. 

It’s also worth knowing the size limitations for both your carry on and your personal item, as many airlines have different specifications for each.

It’s safe to assume that your diaper bag will fall into the area of a personal item.

TIP: You can merge it with your purse, or fit it inside of a backpack, so you may be able to bring more with you on the plane than just what your baby needs. 

It’s worth calling ahead to check, as you may find your airline is much more lenient when it comes to infants than you expected.

Rules When Flying with an Infant

Taking a small child on an airplane is a hassle by itself without having to worry about what you can bring, whether your baby’s things are counted as baggage, and how you’re going to get through it all with your sanity intact.

While carry on and baggage allowances differ from airline to airline, most of the general rules of flying with an infant are the same universally. 

If you are worried about what you may need to be able to fly with your infant, just give the following guidelines a read to ease your mind.


It is heavily recommended to bring some form of identification for your baby, even if you are only flying domestically. This is especially important if you are flying your baby for free on your lap. But even with their own seat, you may be asked to provide some form of identification.

The minimum age requirement for an infant to be able to fly is 14 days old. This age requirement alone may require you to show proof of your baby’s age. 

If you intend to fly with your baby in your lap, you may be asked to provide the same proof that your child is under the age of 2.

A birth certificate is plenty of identification for proving how old your infant is before getting on a flight. 

While most can probably tell that your 6-month-old doesn’t exceed the 2-year limit for lap infants, you may still be asked to show proof. It’s best to keep it on hand for every flight.

Your infant will need their own passport if you intend to fly internationally.

Though it’s not required, and more than likely won’t be asked about, a letter of consent could save you a headache if you are flying without your spouse in tow. This is simply a letter from the baby’s other parent that says it’s okay for you to travel with them.

Lap Infant Regulations

Flying with your baby in your lap is a great way to save on the cost of another plane ticket. It’s not recommended by most people, as it’s safer for the child to have their own seat but is still a perfectly reasonable way to fly. 

Just make sure you’re ready to hold your infant for the duration of the flight if you don’t have someone to pass them off to.

Lap infants cannot be older than 2 years of age. Any child 2 years or older must have their own seat bought and paid for to fly with their parents. 

There may also only be one lap infant in any row on the airplane, due to the number of oxygen masks available. 

If you are flying alone with more than one infant, you will have to buy a seat for one of them.

There is a chance you might be able to score a free seat for your infant, even if they are supposed to be flying on your lap. 

It’s a good idea to keep your car seat with you until you get to the gate and ask if there are any empty seats next to you, or if you can be moved to where one is located. 

If there are no empty seats available, you can always check your car seat at the gate.

You are allowed to wear your baby in a baby carrier while you are on the flight. This may help you free up your hands every now and then and give the baby a comfortable place to rest against your chest. However, you cannot wear your baby during take-off or landing.

Baggage Allowance

If you are taking your baby on the flight for free, they will not have a baggage allowance of their own

Any bags that belong to a lap infant will count toward your baggage allowance and have the same fees associated with them.

Buying your child a seat affords them the same baggage allowance like any other passenger. 

There are some restrictions for some airlines if you paid a child fare that costs less than a normal ticket. 

If this is the case, it’s best to check with your airline about their baggage policies.

Two things that never count against your baggage allowance are a car seat or and a stroller. 

These things can be checked free of charge. If you will be putting your child in their own seat, you can take their car seat on the plane to secure them safely.

Baby Items

It’s a common worry for parents that they may not be able to carry on enough fluids or food to keep their infant occupied throughout the entire flight. 

The TSA has different regulations when it comes to certain baby items to help you out.

Baby formula, breast milk, juice, and containers of baby food are all exempt from the normal rule of a 3.4 oz limit. 

The TSA allows you to carry on these items in reasonable quantities to keep your infant or toddler fed and hydrated throughout the flight.

You must inform your TSA agent at the security checkpoint that you are carrying these items and remove them from your luggage for inspection. 

They may be x-rayed or opened for examination.

These rules are set in place so that parents have a much easier time flying with young children without a ton of stress. 

You are even permitted to take more than the standard amount of water if it is used for making your baby bottles of formula. 

All you have to do is communicate everything with security.

Read More: Can You Bring Formula Powder On An Airplane?

Car Seats on Planes

Car seats are absolutely allowed on airplanes. In fact, they are even recommended. It is much safer for your child to fly in their own seat while strapped into their car seat than it is to have them freely sitting in your lap.

If your infant is under the age of 2, you can rear face your car seat in the seat. 

TIP: Keep a copy of your airline’s rules for car seat orientation with you in the event that a flight attendant isn’t familiar with them. 

It’s important to know your rights for your child.

Before you go to the airport, check to make sure your car seat is certified by the FAA for air travel. 

There will be a sticker on the side, or you can find it in the manual. It’s a good idea to bring proof of this certification with you.

You may also want to consider getting a smaller, lighter car seat at a lower price if your child uses a bigger seat on a regular basis. 

Airplane seats can be on the smaller side, and you don’t want to risk your car seat not fitting properly.

5 Tips for Flying with an Infant

  1. Head to the airport early – If you are flying with a lap infant and need to have them added to your ticket, you may experience delays in the check-in process. Always give yourself some extra time to prevent having to rush around with your baby.
  2. Pick a flight with few to no takeovers – If you can manage it, a nonstop flight is the best way to go. This prevents you from having to brave multiple airports with your infant in tow. If a layover is unavoidable, pick one that is long enough that you won’t be in a rush.
  3. Feed your infant during take-off and landing – These two times are when your child is the most likely to experience that pesky ear pressure. Sucking and swallowing will help ease their discomfort and prevent any wild temper tantrums at the most inconvenient moment.
  4. Bring plenty of toys and books – Pack some of your baby’s favorite toys and mix them with new toys that they’ve never seen before. This will keep their interest throughout the flight and hopefully keep them entertained the entire time.
  5. Secure pacifiers and other small objects – The last thing you want to do is have to bend down over and over again to retrieve a lost pacifier from the floor. Strapping the pacifier to your baby or their car seat will prevent any unsanitary tumbles. It’s also a fantastic idea to bring more than one pacifier, just in case.

Traveling with Baby Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful

Flying can be a hassle even without an infant. Having a small, squirming baby in tow definitely doesn’t make the experience any easier. 

However, by being prepared for your flight, you can significantly cut down on your traveling woes.

When in doubt, contact your airline before your flight to ask about their specific regulations on taking diaper bags on flights. 

It’s a good bet that you’ll have to use up your one personal item slot for your diaper bag. 

Just make sure you pack everything you need, so you’re not left wanting on that long flight.