Breastfeeding Tips For Traveling With a Baby
Travel planning for family vacations 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 for traveling with a baby!
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.
Use this list of breastfeeding tips for traveling to help you prepare for any type of family travel outing!
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Breastfeeding Tips for Traveling
There are important things to consider for breastfeeding depending on the type of travel you’ll be doing.
Breastfeeding and Air Travel
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.
Breastfeeding on the Road
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.
READ: Road Trip Items to Pack | Best Travel Toys
Breastfeeding at the Beach
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.
READ: Tips for Taking Baby to the Beach
Breastfeeding Out and About
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.
Easy slings and carriers for breastfeeding include the Moby Wrap, Ergo Baby Carrier, CuddleBug Carrier Wrap or any adjustable sling, just loosen to breastfeed.
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.
Breastfeeding at Amusement Parks
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.
READ: What to Pack in Your Day Bag for Disney and Theme Parks
Amazing post! I’ve also read that alternating breastfeeding and formula feeding could be a good idea. What are your thoughts about it? Good to feed babies formula milk on the go?
Personally, I found breastfeeding more convenient, whether at home or on the go, but that is a personal decision.
Breastfeeding is a process that needs to be learned since no one is born to know how to do it. This is why it is often difficult.
However, it still comes with lots of benefits. With breastfeeding, you will find it easier to lose your pregnancy pounds and it also helps returns your uterus to its pre-pregnancy size. Your risk of postpartum depression is reduced and saves you money (since there is no need for formula).
Excellent practical information! I’m not read for kids yet, but definitely plan to continue traveling once I have them.
Good article and tips for those with babies! I’m glad that there are people like you who took time to write about this stuff, because there’s an obvious need to know by a lot of people. I’m sure many, myself included if I had a baby, who would be reluctant to travel or simply not feel comfortable or know what to do. So thanks for this advice!
Many of my friends with babies are reluctant to travel, and I always encourage them. It’s definitely easier than you think, especially with practice.
I’m happy that you’re putting this out there! I really admire mothers who travel – there’s so much thought and effort put to ensure the child’s safety and comfort. Thanks for the tips!
Thank you! If you like the travel like I do, there’s no reason to stop when you become a mother!
As a Registered Dietitian (by day), I love that you do this! Breastfeeding is so good for baby and mom. You have proven how versatile it is too. I am glad when I see more places offering breastfeeding areas but it’s just as good to do this whenever needed! Great tips!
I am impressed with all the nursing lounges available at theme parks these days. Thanks for your comment!
I’ve never even thought about this before (don’t have kids), but very helpful post for those who have kids! Will share with my friends with babies for when they want to travel!
I’m sure your friends will appreciate the information, thanks!
Yay to women travelers who explore with their babies. That is super duper amazing. Breastfeeding is a beautiful and intimate mother-child experience so great thing to give these tips to mothers and potential mothers like myself. Way to go!
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I agree! Women who breastfeed have no reason to miss out on any fun or adventure!
Great tips! It was so much easier when my daughter was a baby and the boob fixed everything. I’d nurse her on the plane and in her carrier, pretty much wherever we were, and she was happy as can be. And yes to the moving car. I see people recommending to lean over the baby while the car is in motion and that’s just asking for trouble should there be an accident and baby is crushed.
You’re right, it’s so easy to feed them when they’re breastfeeding. Thanks for sharing your experience.
These are great tips! Not being a mom I never really knew how much work goes into traveling with a baby. You rock! I’ll be sure to send my mommy friends your way the next time they hit the road and have questions.
Thanks for sharing our post, Katie. Traveling with kids is definitely more work, but can be so rewarding.