I don’t know about you but I love to travel. It was a lot easier before kids, that’s for sure, but we have still managed to take fun trips even after having kids. I took my first long distance car trip when my first baby was about 7 weeks old. I have flown with both kids multiple times, and taken many road trips.
I have breastfed in the car, airports, on airplanes, and on boats. Traveling with babies and children presents many challenges but I am going to offer some tips specifically for breastfeeding while traveling.
Travel by car
My biggest tip for traveling by car with a breastfeeding baby is to allow lots of extra time. When traveling by car with my newborn we stopped pretty much every two hours to breastfeed, change her diaper, and let her stretch. Since breastfeeding and burping a newborn takes awhile it’s good to set your expectations accordingly and allow lots of extra time. Once your baby is older you can go a little longer between breaks.
Bring along a nursing pillow or travel Boppy if you have it available. Bring anything else that is going to make you comfortable. I usually nursed my baby in the car and did not need a cover, but I always had a pillow of some sort and a blanket with me.
Make sure you do take breaks and stop to feed your baby. I have heard of people trying to lean over the car seat and nurse while the car is moving. While this might sound like a time saver, and your baby is still buckled in, it’s really not safe.
Dress comfortably, take lots of breaks and you should be good to go!
Travel by plane
Traveling by plane can be a little trickier. If you have a travel pillow bring it along if possible. I have used a neck pillow as a nursing pillow in the past and bought a Boppy travel pillow for my most recent flight.
Having a nursing cover or blanket is handy in the airport. The crowds can be very distracting to your baby and this is one time I was happy to have a cover. I also like to wear my baby in the airport. It makes getting through the airport easier and again gives a good place to nurse your baby with a little extra privacy and support. I nursed my son in our Ergo while in a crowded airport bar and nobody even noticed.
With both of my babies I have breastfed in the airport as well as on the plane. I always try to breastfeed during take off and landing because the sucking motion helps with ear pressure. If you can time your flight for when your baby will be ready for a nap or sleep it can work out well. I nurse during take off and my babies have always fallen asleep while nursing and remained that way for a good part of the flight.
Dress comfortably. Air travel is one time I really like to use nursing tanks. I love Undercover Mama tanks for breastfeeding while flying. They make a tank top that attaches to your bra so you only need to remove one strap. I like to wear this under a regular shirt. This way I can pull the regular shirt up, the tank down, and baby can latch with hardly anyone noticing what you are doing. If you add in the travel pillow on your lap, and a blanket it’s really very cozy and comfortable.
The worse part about breastfeeding while flying is probably the cramped space. I recommend trying to get a window or aisle seat to allow a little extra arm room. I usually prefer aisle seats personally, but when nursing the window is probably a little more spacious and private. If space is tight and you don’t know the person next to you, you may want to give them a heads up that you will be nursing your baby. Most people are very accommodating.
Babies are unpredictable so just like when driving, I would give myself lots of time in the airport before my flight for any little issues that arise.
If you need to pump while traveling
In addition to your pump, you may want to bring a cooler and ice packs, extra storage containers, and milk storage bags. A great bag to lug everything around will be nice too.
Most airports have plenty of spaces with outlets but they may not be that private. A recent study found that very few airports are breastfeeding and pumping friendly despite the fact that they label themselves this way. Few have lactation rooms available. You may want to research the airport ahead of time to find out if they have a place to pump, or if the airline has a lounge you can use.
Pumping on an airplane could be difficult. If you use a manual pump you may be able to do it discreetly with a cover in your seat. Otherwise, I have heard of people pumping in the airplane bathroom. Some airplane bathrooms have outlets, or you may need to use a battery backup if your pump has it available. I know my double electric Ameda can run on battery.
According to the TSA you can travel with breast milk in excess of the 3.4 ounces of liquids already allowed. You can read more about their policies and what you may need to get through security with breast milk here:
I personally have never had an issue carrying breast milk, or baby food through TSA. They never even noticed it in my case but it’s good to be prepared.
If you will need to store breast milk while staying in a hotel it may be worth checking ahead of time if you will have access to a fridge with a freezer if needed. Most hotels will be very accommodating, but again, it’s good to check ahead of time and make sure what you need will be available.
If you are going to travel internationally and need to pump you may also want to check if you will need an electrical adapter for your pump.
With a little preparation traveling with your baby can be easy and even fun.. okay it’s not that easy 🙂 but it doesn’t have to be miserable either.
Luckily breastfeeding while traveling does not require you to pack too many extras. And breastfeeding can comfort your baby, and provide them with something familiar, no matter where you go. I love the fact that no matter where we travel I can nurse my baby to sleep and help him adjust to the new environment easily.
These tips are focused on traveling with your breastfed baby, but if you would like even more tips for all kinds of travel with children you can find them here from our friends at RV lifestyle. And, please let me know if you have any additional tips for breastfeeding while traveling!