Breastfeeding Tips for Summer Traveling
Summer is here. Which means it’s time for many of us to travel with our kids. Fun? Yes. Stressful? Be honest … it’s another yes. We’ve been there — in the van, in the plane, in the hotels — and have learned a few tips that we wish someone had shared with us a few years ago.
What to Pack: Keep it Light, Novel, and Strategic
Consider bringing the amount of diapers needed for the first day or two, and then buy more diapers once you arrive at your destination. This keeps the luggage from being too bulky and saves space for other necessities.
For older kids: pack one carry-on bag each – especially if they can carry their own. Make it special for each of them. It’s really helpful to pick a couple of their favorite items, but also pick up some new things for them to have a surprise! This works for all ages, even babies.
What kid doesn’t love a BRAND NEW coloring book, stickers, or other toys? Bust these special items out when meltdowns happen or when you need a distraction, don’t start right away with these items. These are rewards for listening or when things start to go south. Think about packing an extra change of clothes for each kiddo in the carry-on (one for momma is probably not a bad idea either), as well as some small snacks and treats.
Cleaning wipes to clean the area around you are invaluable with a little one on an airplane. Did you know when traveling with kids you are allowed to bring a snack bad and a drink through security? You can pack other liquid items if they are considered baby care items. Liquids are exempt with children!
Check out FAA guidelines here:
A nice comfortable baby carrier is a must! Instead of hauling a car seat on the airplane- baby wear! This keeps baby close and hands free. When you need to nurse or feed baby, you can easily adjust it to do so. Make sure you’re comfortable with the carrier before your trip. We love the ring sling- it’s easy and portable and can fold up to fit in small places.
Here’s a video you can watch on how it’s worn.
You can also gate check your stroller if needed to haul extra kids and/or stuff. If you do choose to pack a stroller and gate check it, we suggest getting a bag to fit it in, some airlines have these (Southwest has them for $15), or you can get one from Amazon. The airline is not responsible for damage that occurs with transport, so secure your items with these bags. The FAA recommends purchasing an extra seat for those traveling with a car seat.
You can read more here: https://www.faa.gov/travelers/fly_children/
Changes in Pressure
You know that annoying feeling that happens in your ears when taking off or landing? This happens to be the times when babies/kids get more fussy because air gets trapped in the inner ear from atmospheric pressure changes. This causes pressure on your ear drums and is even more uncomfortable for your little ones. The best solution? Breastfeed! Did you know that breastfeeding during takeoff and landing can help “pop” the ears and keep babies comfortable? A good nursing session coupled with the white noise of the engine and propellers is the perfect mix for a cuddly and perfectly timed nap. Pacifiers also can be used to help this. For older kids, you can use a lollipop or something they can suck on to keep them comfortable-and distracted.
Pumping and Extra Milk
A milk catching device, like a suction pump or hand pump, can be helpful. It doesn’t take up much room and is easy to clean. Additional items will be dependent on your trip, what you’re doing, and if baby will need bottles. If you do need a pump, packing it in a carry on with milk storage bags, as well as something to quickly clean the pump parts (even just a few paper towels to wipe the parts off until you get to where you can wash them) would be ideal.
Transporting milk is easy, and you can travel with expressed milk without concern. We like to use dry ice, or even bring Ziplock bags and fill with ice after you get through security. Make sure to keep the milk and snack bag together and put through security separate from your other items. This allows ease for security to check them quickly and they don’t have to fumble through the rest of your packed items.
If you prefer a more private place to breastfeed, or pump, you’re in luck. Little-known fact: Most airports offer special pumping/nursing/feeding rooms or lactation pods. You can look them up on the airport website, or there are even apps that can help with that. Mamava app shows and has comments on where the pumps are located, etc. Don’t plan on the airport staff knowing where these rooms are. Don’t feel that just because these rooms are available you HAVE TO use them. You’re still within your rights to breastfeed or pump anywhere you are otherwise allowed to be and you’ll be helping to normalize breastfeeding.
Safe and happy travels!
BY AUTUMN WAKE, RN, BSN, IBCLC &
LAURA COOPER, BA, IBCLC
OF ADVANCED BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT OF LAS VEGAS
ADVANCED BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT OF LAS VEGAS