Traveling with children is tricky enough, but flying with a baby who is still nursing means one more thing to worry about.
But it doesn’t have to be difficult if you follow some basic breastfeeding tips while traveling with your child!
Don’t be afraid of flying, traveling or breastfeeding in public. In many ways, traveling with a nursing infant is easier since you’ll always have food available, and a surefire way to calm a fussy baby.
First of all, a breastfeeding mom should know that flying with breastmilk (and formula) is permitted and not subject to the TSA restrictions of other liquids.
Inform the TSA officer that you are carrying breastmilk, and separate it from your other liquids for screening.
Breastmilk containers, and usually the person carrying the baby, will be subject to additional explosives screening which takes about 15 seconds. You may also bring a breastpump and ice packs in your carryon luggage.
Many airports have designated nursery rooms, breastfeeding pods, or at the least, private family restrooms with an outlet. Here is a helpful guide to locate airport nursing rooms.
When planning your baby’s mealtimes, keep in mind that take off and landing are great times to breastfeed. The change in airplane cabin pressure cause many babies’ ears to hurt, and breastfeeding will help relieve ear pain. You may get lucky and have your baby nurse to sleep on take off, and sleep the whole flight! This has happened to me several times, including on an overseas flight. The white noise on the airplane is very helpful.
I prefer a window seat for more privacy while breastfeeding on an airplane.
Refer to my tips for flying with a baby and other children which includes a list of what to pack (and not pack!) in your carryon bag to tame the chaos, and keep everyone’s sanity intact.
One of the most unusual places I’ve ever breastfed a child is on the 405 freeway in Southern California. This freeway is frequently referred to as a “parking lot” because of the amount of traffic, but during this particular incident, we were actually parked!
There was a heavy rain storm, the freeway was closed due to flooding, and we were stuck for about 2 hours. I was driving – or not – and eventually had to climb into the backseat to breastfeed my 3 month old son.
Plan to stop A LOT when driving.
Never breastfeed baby in a moving car. Do not take baby out of the car seat or try to contort your body to nurse while baby is strapped in the seat. This isn’t safe for either of you.
Research the rest area locators on the Department of Transportation website for the state where you will drive and plan your route accordingly.
I’ve already shared tips for babies at the beach, but here are a few more specifically for breastfeeding at the beach.
I don’t usually bring an umbrella to the beach because I have a lot to carry already. But you will definitely want to cover up or find some shade while breastfeeding. Un-sunscreened areas will be exposed, and baby will be lying still in the sun for some time. Trust me – the possibility of sun burn is great, here.
I also strongly recommend a chair, unless you have a place you can lie down with baby to breastfeed and don’t have to worry about other kids kicking sand on you both. Again, make sure you are both well protected from the sun.
Wind at the beach may make covering up difficult. Sometimes I just use a beach towel, if I’m packing very light, but a designated nursing cover will definitely help if you expect the beach to be windy.
An easy way to simplify breastfeeding while traveling is to nurse while the baby is in a carrier. This can be done while hiking, at a museum, aquarium, or zoo, while walking along the streets, on a boat ride, or just about anywhere else.
Traveling usually means breastfeeding in public, and you may wish to use a nursing cover. As a minimalist, I stick to a multi-purpose swaddle blanket to provide privacy and, if needed, shade or warmth, while breastfeeding. However, these jersey multi-purpose covers are very popular, look easy to use, and can also be used as a car seat cover, a shopping cart cover, or even a scarf.
Due to our love of Disney and other theme parks, and having four kids, I have a lot of experience breastfeeding at amusement parks. Many parks have designated areas for breastfeeding.
Each US Disney park has a baby care center. Knott’s Berry Farm has a nursing station. Most Six Flag’s parks offer private breastfeeding areas. And all Sea World Parks have multiple nursing room locations!
Private breastfeeding rooms are great for highly distractible children, and pumping, but not always convenient and quick.
I recommend using a carrier you can nurse in, so your baby can stay with you in shows, in line, and even on many rides! You won’t have to miss out on much while breastfeeding if you can do it in a carrier.
You’ll also want a blanket or nursing cover to provide shade if you can’t find a quiet shady spot to breastfeed. Luckily, there are usually plenty of shady benches around, or you can sit in the corner of a restaurant.
I once was breastfeeding my third child while waiting in line for a ride at Legoland when a woman asked if I had a camera so she could take my picture. At first I misunderstood her, probably because it was an unusual request! But she was offering to give me the memory of that moment, which I have done dozens of times, but never thought to document. I actually love the photo, and I’m so glad she took it!
Traveling with a breastfeeding infant may seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience nursing in public. Luckily, this is something that becomes much easier with experience, and you’ll be a pro by the time your trip is through.