Breastfeeding while Traveling
My baby was just a few months old when I boarded a plane alone in Las Vegas and headed to my grandma’s for a surprise Christmas visit. With him tucked next to my chest, we had a fairly uneventful trip.
Traveling with an infant brings with it extra challenges - and even stress - for a new mom. It doesn’t, however, need to be a struggle.
When we choose to breastfeed, we have the advantage of not having to lug bottles or containers of formula. There are some considerations needed though before heading out on a journey longer than to the grocery store.
Plan extra time at the airport. Taking a baby through security isn’t hard, in fact, if your baby is in a sling without metal buckles, you can walk right through with him on your chest.
An infant old enough to be in a stroller requires extra time for the stroller to go through security and be checked at the gate. It’s easier for both you and baby not to rush through the airport, especially if you’re flying alone.
Many airports have a family room for families traveling with little ones. Check ahead with the airline to see if one is available to use while waiting. Don’t be afraid to ask at the airport. I found volunteers very helpful when traveling with babies and preschoolers.
Packing light is the key to success while traveling. Only take a diaper bag as a carry-on, preferably a backpack. When traveling with a lap baby (one who sits on your lap and doesn’t have a ticket), our hands are already full.
Carry only what you’ll need on the plane: a few diapers (opt for disposables instead of the heavier all-in-ones you usually use,) an extra onesie, an empty bottle for water if needed, a couple of quiet toys, and your sling or cover-up. I even avoid the worry of a purse by using a wallet that can slip in the side pocket of the diaper bag. The fewer items being carried, the easier it is to get around.
A cover-up, or a sling with an extra wrap which covers the baby and you from shoulder and waist, may be all you need to breastfeed while waiting for the flight and in-flight. Wear a blouse that buttons up the front for ease of opening and closing, or- my favorite: dress in layering tanks that stretch. I found most people don’t even notice if the baby is at the breast with discreet covering. He’ll just look like he’s sleeping.
Allow Baby to nurse during take-off and landing. This relieves the baby’s ears due to the changing air pressure and avoids the dreaded crying baby. With two boys and countless flights, I can honestly say I never had a fussy baby on a flight.
If a plane change is necessary, try to get flights that have more than an hour layover. It isn’t easy running through the airport with a baby in tow. Check with the airline for trams, golf carts or other assistance when moving from one gate to another.
Check ahead about transportation upon arrival at the airport. Most hotels have shuttles, and many have cribs. Get the shuttle information before beginning the trip. If a phone call is required, make the call from the plane when electronics are approved to turn back on, right at landing.
Ask for help with baggage. Airlines have personnel at the baggage claim area who can help you get your bag from the carrousel and to curbside.
Years ago when baby needed nursing, mom held baby in the front seat and fed the little one. Today infants are required to be in the car seat at all times. Don’t take the chance with the safety of your baby by nursing in the car.
Plan extra time to stop to nurse. Check ahead for the location of rest stops on Interstates. It’s better to stop and nurse a little more often than to have to stop along the side of the road to tend to an infant. Nursing more often may also avoid car sickness if baby’s tummy is too full.
Have the diaper bag handy. It can be frustrating trying to find it in the trunk when the baby is crying. The rest stops will be more relaxing when everything is quickly available.
I said this before and I’ll say it again. Plan to purchase diapers and other disposable needs at the destination. Aunt Margaret will want to see Baby in the adorable outfit she sent. Other than that, pack onesies and other “everyday” clothing, which can be easily rinsed out if soiled. You and your baby will be more comfortable. Don’t forget a change or top for you in case baby gets sick.
Keep your eye on your things (as well as the baby) while you maneuver with an infant. In some areas, you can become a target. We once had $5000 worth of camera gear stolen right from under our noses while shifting baby gear around in Madrid, and another time a video camera taken right from the stroller!
Never leave your baby alone in a vehicle or hotel room. Use a front-pack or backpack when going to a restroom or carrying necessary bags into the hotel room. When staying at a hotel, the bellhops can help with luggage.
It’s not a burden to travel with nursing babies. Planning and extra time make it easier for you and your baby. In fact, I’ve found the delight on some people’s face when they encountered a traveling baby made it worth the effort, and the memories will be priceless.
This article represents one mom's views and experiences as a Babywise Mom. For more help getting your Baby on a Babywise sleep schedule, you can read more articles on Baby Sleep here on Babywise.life
Renaissance Woman Jen Reyneri and her husband Luis often live life on the road with their two home-schooled sons. Popular author and speaker, Jen is founder of WordTraveling.com. Spirited and spirit filled, she savors life, poetic words, sabbaticals and strong coffee.
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