Before I knew how to change a diaper on a plane, I figured I’d just avoid the subject completely and hope my kid didn’t need a change while we were in the air.

Our first flying experience was a two-hour flight to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and I didn’t even have to change our baby in such a short span of time.

However, it took our first flight more than six hours (Colombia to NYC) to give up on that, and I was faced with the daunting task of doing a diaper change in an airplane bathroom, high up in the sky. With a few handy strategies, I did this like a pro!

Find out how to do a diaper change on a flight with some tips and tricks I recommend, as well as my one favorite parenting travel product to make it a cinch.

What to prepare:

Helpful Tip

Traveling far with your little one? Check out my list of the best baby travel accessories as well as an international packing list for a toddler.

Bring only what you need

Airplane bathrooms range from small, to smaller. Once you get inside one, you’ll realize that your whole diaper bag does not fit, and you also won’t want it on the filthy airplane bathroom floor.

Because of all this, I bring my Kibou Diaper Bag Fanny Pack! It’s the best parenting product for travel that I own. In it, I’ve got the fold-out changing pad, wet wipes, diaper cream and a diaper or two. I’ll get into this later.

Helpful Tip

Check out my full and in-depth Kibou Diaper Bag Fanny Pack review to see all about this minimalist travel accessory for parents.

Double check and be prepared for a diaper change

If you’re on a crowded flight, avoid a mistake like not having enough wipes with you, or not having a diaper, after getting all the way to the airplane bathroom with a fussy baby or loud toddler.

Check the boxes of: diaper, wipes, changing pad and diaper cream. (And read on below, to see if you may need something else.)

Avoid having breakables

Yes, you read that right: avoid having things like a fancy glass jar of organic diaper balm, even though it may be the best. The last thing you want to be telling a flight attendant is that you broke some glass in the tiny airplane restroom and cause a fuss.

Instead, bring a travel-sized squeeze tube of diaper cream like this travel-sized Butt Paste I keep in my Kibou Fanny. Just remember to keep it away from your baby or toddler’s hands, as it’s easily squirt-able!

Go back to wash your hands later.

If you’ve done a diaper change in a public restroom, you’ll know that balancing a baby (or toddler) while trying to wash your own hands is impossible — that is, unless you have a stroller or baby carrier with you.

What I do is use some quick travel-sized hand sanitizer (either from my fanny pack, or the one that the plane provides), bring our daughter back to Dan, at our seats, and head back to do a proper hand wash.

Use a travel carrier to avoid a wriggly baby or toddler

Every time we fly, I take my Baby Tula Carrier Lite, the most compact and foldable baby carrier I own. It holds a child up to 30 lbs. and I use it while boarding and deplaning with our daughter.

If your baby is going to squirm in your arms all the way from your seat to the bathroom, use a lightweight carrier like this one. You can take your child out of it right before you open the airplane restroom door, without making a commotion.

See my full Baby Tula Carrier Lite review to learn more about this helpful product. I’ve used several baby carriers for travel, and this is my favorite one.

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Politely ask to cut the bathroom line

When I was traveling for business while pregnant, I learned that passengers are very open to letting you go before them if you’re pregnant or with a baby.

Now, when traveling on a plane with a baby, I don’t hesitate to wink (or smile) and ask if I can quickly use the restroom to change my baby and go ahead of someone who’s waiting.

Sing a song

Without thinking much, I started singing some of my daughter’s favorite songs to make her feel comfortable in the tiny and cramped airplane restroom the first time I did a diaper change on a plane.

I sang “Six Little Ducks” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and that went well.

Bag up really dirty diapers

If you’re at your seat and you smell a stinker, bring along a newspaper bag or a produce bag from your main diaper bag or personal item.

In the diaper bag, we always keep cheap plastic bags from the grocery store for bagging up dirty diapers so that the mess and smell is contained. Stick one in your pocket or in your Kibou Fanny Pack.

I also talk about this in my guide to road tripping with a baby!

Bring an extra outfit if there was an accident

We use the Nike Convertible Diaper Bag, and it’s our “personal item” when we travel with our daughter as a lap infant. Inside, we have a travel packing cube that contains two changes of clothing, in case of multiple “accidents” (food or diaper-related) during a travel day.

I keep one footie onesie in there, and one two-piece outfit with socks.

If your child has some leakage or already had an accident at your seats on the flight, fish out that extra set of clothes and bring them with you to the airplane bathroom. If it’s easier, take off your baby’s clothes at your seat, and re-dress him or her on the bathroom changing table.

This is where small plastic garbage bags come in handy: those soiled clothes likely need to be bagged up to contain the mess.

Helpful Tip

Extra outfits are also helpful for food and drink spills. If you have a child who is a messy bottle-drinker or who is starting to play with their food, an additional outfit for changing into is key, for flights.

Fold the changing table back up when you’re done

Amid the chaos of having a baby in a restroom the size of a linen closet, remember to fold the changing table back up when you’re done.

This way, you’ll be courteous to the next user of the bathroom and you’ll get extra points for being an expert traveling parent.

Some other questions about changing a diaper on a plane

Can I ask a flight attendant for help with changing a diaper?

Yes, you can! You may even get the help of a flight attendant who has kids, and who can give recommendations on the best way to change a diaper on the plane.

What is an airplane bathroom changing table like?

Airplane bathrooms vary. We flew from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Medellin, Colombia, and the airplane bathroom didn’t even have a changing table.

Does every airplane bathroom have a changing table?

Sadly, no. Not every airplane has a changing table. You may have to find this out the hard way. Usually, though, smaller flights used for short journeys are the ones that don’t have changing tables in the restrooms.

Long-haul flights on larger aircraft will most likely have pull-down changing tables, especially with major carriers.

Are airplane changing tables safe?

Yes, airplane changing tables are relatively safe. You may find that for longer and older babies or toddlers, they will have to lay diagonally, or their legs will dangle off.

Remember to ALWAYS keep at least one hand and your full line of vision on your child while in an airplane restroom. And of course, if there is turbulence or an instruction to return to your seat for safety reasons, follow through with all requested safety protocol.