Taking your little one with you when flying across the mighty skies is a different experience altogether; in addition to brightening up your journey, those bundles of joy can keep you engaged throughout those long hours of travel with their quirks and giggles. Nonetheless, there’s one challenge that you have got to overcome, and that is the urgency to change a diaper when it gets shambolic. If this is your first time changing a diaper on a plane, or you’re concerned that you’ve been doing it wrong all this time, here are a few tips that will help you ease out this ordeal.

Changing diapers on a plane is not ideal, and if your baby has a blowout, it quickly becomes a nightmare! Last week during a flight I noticed the sheer terror on a fellow mother’s face. Why was she terrified? She was on her way to the bathroom to change her baby’s diaper. I don’t blame her, airplane bathrooms are disgusting. It’s bad enough we have to use them, but having to subject a small baby to those germs is even worse.

What to Consider When Booking the Flight

The goal is to make things as easy as possible on you. There are two simple things you can do while booking your flight that can make your life much easier. 

  1. Pick a flight that is during the baby’s nap time. Hopefully, if they sleep the entire flight you can avoid changing diapers on the plane.
  2. Sit in an aisle seat. When you book your ticket make sure you select an aisle seat, so you can easily get up when needed. 

Before you Board:

I recommend changing your baby’s diaper before you board. Because you are traveling with a young child, you will be one of the first to board. Keep this in mind, and do the diaper change about 15 minutes before boarding begins. I swear my kids would wait for a nice fresh diaper to really make a mess, and that’s why I recommend 15 minutes. That way you have 10 minutes left to change the diaper again if your kiddo does what mine always did!

Is there a changing table?

As unbelievable as this may sound, not all airplanes have changing tables. It will depend on what kind of airplane you are traveling on. The bigger the plane, the higher the chance that there will be a changing table on the plane. Last week we flew on Qatar Airways and about half the bathrooms on the plane had a changing table. 

Ask the flight attendants if they have a changing table in any of the bathrooms on the flight. If they do, then changing the diaper won’t be of much hassle.

However, if they don’t, you must find a spot that is wide enough to securely hold the baby, even when he is agitating through the course of the diaper change, so there are no prospects of a mishap. The flight attendants are mostly helpful in such cases, and they tend to offer you an area that is inoffensive or isn’t frequented by too many passengers. Sometimes, you might also be allowed to use the space reserved for the attendants to sit during the take-off and landing of the flight. 

Tip: Remember to only take what you need into the airplane bathroom. The restrooms on planes are tiny, you will not want or need your entire diaper bag in there with you. img 5021 scaled


Alternative Methods

Change diapers on your lap

If your child is still very small, and you have a companion with you, or your co-passenger wants to assist you generously, then you can change the baby on your lap instead.

When you are changing a merely wet diaper on your lap, cover the baby with a blanket if it feels necessary, and you know you will be able to work smoothly with it. Nevertheless, if your child is somewhat bigger, you can ask your companion to hold the baby’s head and shift his lower part towards yourself. Quickly change the diaper, tug the used one inside the plastic bag, and dispose of the whole thing when you use the washroom. 

This alternative method is only for a diaper that is wet; if the baby has messed up his diaper, do not ever change him on your lap. Apart from ringing in discomfort for you, the odor can ruin the journey for the people sitting around you. 

Whatever you do, do not change a diaper on the seat tray. It’s disgusting and unsanitary. Plus, you will get in trouble. On the last flight I was on a woman got in trouble for changing her baby’s diaper in her lap. 

Standing Diaper Change

If your baby is big enough to stand up, you may want to consider changing their diaper as they stand up. This is fairly easy to do depending on the age, however, if they decide to give you a hard time and sit down, well, let’s just say you are going to want the disposable changing pad under them. 

Unsure where to do this change at? Head to the bathroom. They can stand on the toilet lid in the bathroom for this. 

How to change a diaper on the plane

Have the Right Supplies

When you have a child flying with you, carrying a throw-away changing pad and a few plastic bags will be incredibly helpful. Do not ever keep the baby directly on the surface you will be changing their diaper on, and always use the changing pad to protect your child from germs. Try to make things work quickly, and if anything gets messy, put them inside the plastic bag that you have with you to contain the smell.

The most crucial thing to remember here is that the flight is always in motion. Even if it feels static inside the airplane, you cannot take a chance with your things laying around all over the place.(Granted there’s not much room an airplane bathroom.)

Ziplock-bags would be more preferable in this case because they will lock the odor inside without making it unpleasant for the other passengers. You could also use a plastic grocery sack or if you are desperate the airplane’s throw-up bag. Just tie it well to lock in the smell. Whatever you do, do not flush it down the toilet. Either throw it into the trash in the bathroom or ask the flight attendant where to throw it away. 

Travel Diaper Bag Packing List

  • Change of clothes
  • Wipes
  • Diapers – 1 per hour. (Five hour flight = 5 diapers)
  • Ziplock Bags: Take either quart size or gallon size with you. 
  • Changing pad: Either disposable changing pads or a travel changing pad. I recommend getting the disposable pads for flying. 
  • Change of shirt for you

More Travel Tips

Tips for Flying with Children Internationally

How to Prepare for Your First Road Trip with a Baby

Breastfeeding At Disney World: What Every Nursing Mom Needs to Know