Using Cloth Diapers on a Plane

Airplane flying

I hear parents afraid of flying with cloth diapers. They’re only little pieces of cloth—nothing to be afraid of. Whether you are going to wash your own diapers once you arrive at your destination or use a diaper service while you are there, you really can do it!

If you can camp with cloth diapers, you can fly with cloth diapers. No problem. Just plan for the tight space in your bag and the tight space for changing diapers. You and your baby will be clean and happy when you arrive.

Essentials for Flying with Cloth Diapers

Wet Bag

Don’t choose just any old bag or a plastic grocery bag. You need a wet bag with sealed seams because this is going in your carry-on luggage with all of your purse and the novel you never quite get to and your snacks. Make it a really reliable wet bag. The Bummis Fabulous Zippered Wet Bag is double seamed on three sides, and the small size is perfect to hold 3-4 diapers

Simple, Flat Diapers

Don’t use your all-in-one diapers on the plane. They will be more bulky to carry and more difficult to get clean once you arrive. Simple diapers, flats or prefolds, will be the least bulky, since you will likely be able to reuse the cover. Flats are the easiest diapers to clean because you only need to force soap and water through one layer. They rinse easily. Unless you know you will have access to a great washing machine, go with hand-washable diapers on the plane.

Wipe-clean Covers

No matter what covers you use at home, for travel you might find it convenient to have covers that are easy to wipe clean. Bummis Super Brite covers are lightweight and easy to wipe clean because the inside layer is just laminated polyester. It won’t absorb messes. These covers also come in cute colors and patterns, so you might find yourself with a conversation starter if other passengers watch you change diapers.

Spray Bottle

If you need to pack your bottle empty to get through security, you can still fill it in the restroom once you are on the other side. Just be sure that you have an easy way to clean up messes. Hope for no messes, but be prepared. If you travel enough, a big, messy diaper will certainly happen while you are on the plane. Armed with a bag full of dry, reusable wipes, a spray bottle, natural hand sanitizer, and an extra set of clothes, you can tackle anything.

Choose the Front Row

For diaper changes, I found kneeling on the floor in the front row so much easier than juggling a baby between parents in the cramped rows further back. Changing diapers in a tiny airplane toilet is even more difficult. The front row with a big changing pad will make diaper changes much easier.

Pack Your Confidence and Good Attitude

The best advice for travelling with cloth diapers comes from parents who have done it. Don’t let someone who hasn’t used cloth diapers on the road tell you it’s too hard. When the Real Diaper Association (RDA) asked their members for their best travel tips, one mother said, “I am so glad that I decided to travel with cloth. It was much easier than I had anticipated, and when it was over, I felt accomplished.” RDA compiled the best cloth diaper travel tips from parents into one sheet. You can even read all of the original cloth diaper travel tips for details.

Image © Pierre-yves Babelon |

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2 thoughts on “Using Cloth Diapers on a Plane”

  1. I do agree with using flat diapers for saving space on the airplane. We did choose to use AIO’s because it was easier for us…. We put enough diapers in the diaper bag for each flight and kept extras in our carry-on bag to transfer during our connection, so we didn’t have to try to smoosh as much into the diaper bag…

    Now, granted, whether or not I CD while traveling by plane depends ENTIRELY on my destination. If I am going to visit family and know I will have a W/D, or we won’t be gone that long I absolutely will take my CD’s… but we made two 5+ day trips this summer where we were going to be in a hotel. We were going to be going from sunup to sundown, and if the hotel did have a laundry, we sure didn’t have time (or energy) to go back and forth to the hotel laundry, let alone hand wash and hope it dries by morning…

    And also I can see some value to having the floor space in the bulkhead seat (that’s the first row talked about above), I (personally) HATED it. Because there isn’t a seat in front of you, the trays are hidden away in stowable areas adjacent to the seats, which limits your already narrow seats – and makes nursing in your seat even more difficult. Also, again due to the lack of seats in front of you, you loose that stowable space and any time you need to do anything, you need to get up and get your bag out of the overhead. Hopefully you were lucky enough to take advantage of the “pre-boarding” and your diaper/goody bag is actually in the storage over your seat… but if not, then you are having to reach over folks to get your stuff.

    One additional tip, of course when you have kids, you are not allowed to sit in the emergency exits (which normally give you extra legroom) but be careful not to get stuck in the seats directly in Front of the exit rows, because you have lost the ability to recline your seats (because they don’t want the seats blocking the emergency exit).

    Thanks for this article

    • Jennifer, thanks for your comments. These are helpful tips. There are so many ways to make travel work for each family.

      After I posted the article above, my friend Jennifer Margulis left for yet another trip with her diapers and linked again to this article she wrote for Mothering on traveling with cloth diapers. Read this for her detailed, practical advice.


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