Traveling with a toddler without checking luggage

all my stuff and the baby stuff fit in these bags!

all my stuff and the baby stuff fit in these bags!

My husband and I took Jack (16 months) to visit friends in Portland for 4 days, and we were happy to be able to fit our minimalistic necessities in only carryon baggage! It saved time because we skipped waiting for bags at the conveyor belt, and it was easier to carry everything around the airports. Here is a summary of what we brought:

Baby transportation: toddler tula

I wore Jack through the airport and hiked with him on my back during the trip. He took a few naps in the tula and we didn’t bring a stroller which saved a ton of space. I also know some people whose strollers were broken when checked on a plane, so we didn’t have to worry about that.

Car seat: borrowed from friends (backup option was to rent one with a car)

Jack still fits in an infant seat, so our friend’d toddler sat in her convertible seat and he used her old infant one which worked out perfectly fine.

Clothes: I brought layers for both of us- 2 short sleeves, 4 long sleeves, and a jacket per person. I took jeans and yoga pants for me, and 4 pants for Jack. I brought a bib per day for Jack and hats for both of us. I brought him soft leather shoes and rubber rainproof shoes.

Diapers: we decided to use our (ecofriendly) disposable diapers so we didn’t make our friends uncomfortable asking to wash cloth diapers at their house. We like the Bambo Nature diapers which are compostable and free of carcinogens and allergens. I brought enough diapers to change him every 3 hours and one for overnight, plus a couple extra. EC helps cut down on diapers though, as Jack pooped a few times in the toilet!

Toys: we stayed with friends who had a ton of toys at their house which Jack loved. For the plane, we brought a small wooden plane, his favorite small ball, and his favorite book. We also brought his Foogo straw thermos with almond milk (he loves to press the button!) and his pura bottle with some water. We spent time opening and closing those, eating snacks I brought, looking at the plane magazines, and playing with the plastic cups they provide on the plane. He loved looking out the window and opening and closing the window. We also walked around the plane a little.

Toiletries: I brought toothpaste and a toothbrush, and Jack’s toothbrush which doubles as a toy. I use a shampoo bar that doubles as soap which saves space.

Electronics: I brought my laptop which took up a ton of space, but I like watching videos on netflix while Jack naps on me :) I also brought a phone which I use for white noise for Jack.

I may have forgotten a few things, but that’s most of what I packed. My husband took a carryon with his clothes and the gifts for our friends, so I fit my stuff and Jack’s all in my bags. Our next challenge will be to see if we can take only carryons during our 6 day trip to PA! In that case we may bring a few diapers and buy some natural ones at whole foods there, because the diapers took up a ton of space.

Attempting minimalism with a toddler

the majority of our toys and books

the majority of our toys and books

My husband and I try to be minimalistic with our possessions, but it’s been a challenge to keep that up once we had a baby! Now that Jack is 16 months old and a toddler, I wanted to update how we’re doing. You can see a post about minimalism with a baby here or about our minimalist baby registry here.

Diapers: we are still cloth diapering which saves tons of money and decreases our daily trash by a huge amount! We love it, and while we had ammonia issues now that Jack is peeing more, the poop is also SUPER easy to clean now that it’s solid- you just plop it into the toilet (or since we do EC Jack poops in the potty most of the time which is even easier).

Food: we do baby led weaning which minimizes the need to buy special baby purees or machines to make purees (although we already had an immersion blender). Jack eats what we eat, or we buy snacks from the dried foods or cereal section of Whole foods (like unsweetened organic corn puffs). We did buy a few stainless steel espresso spoons for Jack and these thick glass shot glasses he can drink from that are hard to break. We’re skipping sippy cups since dentists don’t recommend them, and just use a water bottle on the road.

Clothes: I try to buy as much gender neutral organic clothing as I can so we can hopefully use it for another child down the line. We do laundry about every 5 days, so we try to buy only the amount of clothes we need to last us that long. Jack has a few gender neutral shoes as well.

Toys: I have a secret: Jack prefers to play with things that aren’t even children’s toys 😉 We have a few nice wooden toys for him, and my dad has a bunch at his house which they bought. Jack spends a lot of time playing with our pots and pans, kitchen paraphernalia,  putting things inside bowls or ceramic vases, pushing our ottoman around, or playing with our dog’s (nontoxic) balls. I think we have never bought him a toy ourselves, but it’s harder to get relatives not to buy him toys and instead give him clothes or donate to his college fund. We go to the park or library playroom at least once a day, so Jack gets to play with different things there too.

Books: We have a handful of board books, most that were from my childhood and are in different languages so they can’t be found at the library. Once he gets a little older we plan to get most books from the library instead of buying them. (For my husband and I, we almost always buy ebooks now).

Sleeping: We still have our crib sidecared, and in the future may buy some kind of natural full size mattress for a floor bed. We use my old cell phone as a while noise player.

Transportation: We have a convertible car seat in each of our cars, and my dad has one also. I’m storing our Orbit nontoxic infant seat to hopefully use with another baby. We still use the City Mini stroller sometimes, but only maybe once a week.  I use baby carriers multiple times a day though! I love my Toddler Tula and Bamberoo, and also use my ring sling for quick trips to the library (love the pocket which works as a purse). I put Jack high on my back in a woven wrap while I vacuum so he can see what’s going on.

Bath: Jack has showered with me since day one, or sometimes if he just has food on him I’ll do a rinse in the sink. We rarely use soap on him, and put coconut oil to prevent diaper rash and dry skin. He uses our organic towels, we don’t have any special baby bath things. For bath toys we have some bowls and a ball or two that rotate as bath toys.

Babyproofing: we bought some cheap light switch covers and a few string things to keep drawers closed, but other than that we don’t babyprrof most things and instead watch Jack and teach him to “be gentle” with the low-hanging art, or “let’s not touch the toilet water, it’s wet” etc. It’s been working well so far, but we’ll see if we need to change the plan as he ages.

Things we skipped buying: baby gates, baby monitors (we cosleep), a play yard, baby bath tub and bath products, and baby swing.

DIY baby discovery toy



I’m always looking for creative ways to keep Jack busy, and this little project worked pretty well. He’s 14 months old and loves putting things inside things, so I got an orange juice carton (you could use a milk carton or anything cardboard probably) and cut two “windows” in it with scissors. I washed it out, and he had fun putting some cylindrical blocks through the top hole and getting them out from the sides.  You could find things around the house that happen to fit as well. I used the blocks from this plan toys set which was pretty inexpensive ($20 for 50 blocks) and very non-toxic. We use them for all sorts of other things too like putting them in and out of a bag, or I build towers and Jack knocks them down.

Jack’s attention span is only a few minutes, so it’s great to be able to make activities for him for free since he gets bored so quickly!


Comparison of a Toddler Tula and Beco Genimi

12.19tulaI just recently bought a Todler Tula baby carrier, and I really like it! Jack weighs 22.5 pounds and is almost 30 inches tall and it just fits him. I previously used the Beco Gemini which I loved for the newborn stage through about 20 pounds or so, but recently his legs have gotten way too long for the seat and they hang down in a way that doesn’t look ergonomic. It also started hurting my back and shoulders after over 45 minutes of use, while the Tula doesn’t at all.

IMG_1855Pros about the Beco Gemini:

  • You can use it with a newborn without an insert
  • You can criss cross the straps for more support
  • It can come in organic fabric
  • I LOVE the headrest thing that can flip up or down. It provides great support during naps without obscuring Jack’s view of everything

Pros about the Tula:

  • The body doesn’t have padding (in the area behind Jack’s back it’s just canvas) so you feel closer and more able to hug them like with a wrap
  • The buckles don’t have a safety thing to push on to open them which is on one hand less safe but on the other hand easier to open
  • It’s sooo comfortable!
  • The straps adjust more (they always felt a little big on me in the Beco)
  • It’s OEKO-TEX certified (not organic though)
  • It has a pocket