Your baby is completely portable and so is his food source if you are breastfeeding. This can make travel with a little one much easier and safer than contending with potentially unsafe sources of infant food, formula and water. It’s also much easier not to have to carry feeding equipment and premixed formula on top of the ‘basic’ baby gear.
If you are planning to travel with your baby and/or small children, you may have some anxiety about how this will work in actual practice. So, here are some helpful tips from real parents with babies and children:
- If you are driving, don't have any expectations on when you will arrive or how long it will take. Be present and enjoy stopping at unexpected places and exploring with your kids. Pack spare clothes, nappies, sun-screen, drinks and lots of healthy snacks for yourself and little ones. Also, take some kids’ favourite music for singalongs.
- Remember to stop frequently and feed your baby or express with a hand help pump to stay comfortable. If your baby sleeps longer while you are driving, this can result in over-full breasts and possible blocked ducts that can lead to mastitis. Also, check the position of your seatbelt, that it’s not compressing your breasts as this can also contribute to blocked ducts.
- If you have toddlers or small children, pack some activities for them – stickers and a scrap book, small toys wrapped separately that you can hand them to open as they become bored (you can wrap a few of their smaller toys from home).
- Pack separate small pouches in your bag so you can easily grab what you need for nappy changes (wipes, nappies, onesie, bum cream); feeds (breast pads, baby food, spoons); activities (books, toys).
- Pack a backpack or small bag with spare outfits for each child and yourself, just in case of poo-splosions and spills – it’s much easier than rifling through your suitcases/car boot for changes and if you are on a plane, nobody wants to have poo or vomit smells wafting through the cabin.
- If you are flying, take some antiseptic wipes to clean the tray table, window-sills and seats (anything you or kids are likely to touch) as an extra precaution. You can use hand sanitizer on WaterWipes if you don’t have antiseptic wipes.
- If you are taking a long flight (perhaps as an expat flying home), check with your travel agent if you can reserve a bulkhead seat (which has extra space) and a cot. A cot will be much easier and safer than trying to doze or eat your own meals with a baby on your lap during long flights.
- Breastfeed your baby on take off and landing to alleviate ear pain due to cabin pressure in planes. If your baby won't feed, try a dummy/pacifier - sucking will help.
- If you are travelling by car, remember to stop for feeding breaks as by skipping feeds and allowing your breasts to become uncomfortable, you could risk blocked ducts which could lead to mastitis. Also take care with positioning of your seat belt that it isnt creating pressure against your breasts as this can also cause blocked ducts.
- Although you may be concerned about breastfeeding your baby to sleep when you are at home (really, this is not an issue at any time, it's completely natural for babies to breastfeed to sleep), please ditch 'the rules' and use this wonderful mothering tool to your best advantage – a nursing baby is much easier to manage than a screaming baby or an overtired irritated baby.
- Remember to drink plenty of water yourself and pack some sachets of oral rehydration solution in case you do become dehydrated or catch a tummy bug (your exclusively breastfed baby doesnt need water and it can be unsafe to give water to babies under 6 months). If your milk supply seems reduced due to dehydration, increase your fluids and feed your baby more often –skin to skin cuddles, rest and extra fluids will boost your milk supply within 24 hours.
For expert tips to boost your breastmilk naturally, download our FREE ebook "Making More Mummy Milk,Naturally" ? It's written by Pinky McKay, IBCLC lactation consultant, best selling author of Sleeping Like a Baby and Parenting by Heart (Penguin Random House) and creator of Boobie Bikkies, all natural and organic cookies for breastfeeding mums.
- If your baby is already eating family foods it would be wise to take some prepacked baby food such as the foods in tubes that can be squeezed out and recapped , avoiding contamination if baby doesn’t finish the entire contents.
- Try to be prepared for varying cultural acceptance of breastfeeding in public. If you are visiting a country where this is an issue, you can feed discreetly by pulling clothing up or unbuttoning from the waist, rather than ‘flopping it all out’ or you can drape a shawl over your shoulder and your baby. It’s better to feel comfortable and enjoy your holiday than wasting energy trying to ‘educate’ ingrained cultural sensitivities.
- Don’t forget a baby carrier or wrap. Explore baby carriers for comfort and ease and check whether you can feed while wearing your baby. This can give you two hands free while attending to luggage and check-ins as well as site seeing.
- Pack some Boobie Bikkies just in case you get extra hungry and cant access food as soon as you need it – they are individually wrapped so throw a few in your bag for a ready snack.
- RELAX – remember, this is a holiday! Laugh, enjoy and create happy memories by taking lots of photos of your baby in the special places you visit.
Pinky McKay is Australia’s most recognised and respected breastfeeding and gentle parenting advocate. She’s an IBCLC Lactation Consultant, best-selling author of Sleeping LIke a Baby, Parenting by Heart, 100 Ways to Calm the Crying and Toddler Tactics (Penguin Random House ), mum of five and creator of Boobie Bikkies. and Boobie Brekkie all natural foods to nourish breastfeeding mums.