The holidays are a great occasion to introduce your family and friends to your little bundle of joy. Although spending time with new people can be fun, it can also be stressful for your baby. Here are some tips to help you navigate travel with baby.
Breastfeeding and pumping all require a regular routine to ensure that the milk supply is maintained and baby is adequately nourished. Since travel can throw off this routine, it will be helpful for you to prepare yourself in advance for breastfeeding and pumping on the go.
Travel with baby – pack light and only pack the essentials.
Purchasing items like diapers and wipes at your destination can make travel with baby stressful. Packing a safe, portable crib will ensure that your baby has a safe place to lay down. If you don’t want to pack one, many hotels offer pack’n’plays or cribs with their rooms.
If your travel with baby happens to be by car, make sure to make frequent stops for nursing and to give the baby a chance to “stretch” and get out of the car seat.
It is important to keep in mind that it is not recommended to allow babies to spend long periods of time sleeping in a car seat. Account for the stops when planning your trip.
Travel with Baby | Navigating the Airport with Breastmilk.
Review your itinerary for the trip and be aware of places where you might need to nurse or pump. If you desire privacy for nursing or pumping, be sure to scope out nursing rooms or private spaces Mamava and Pumpspotting have great apps to help with this!
A manual hand pump or battery operated pump is helpful for on the go pumping so you don’t have to worry about finding an electrical outlet. Don’t forget your Twist pouches so that you can conveniently pump directly into your storage pouches.
Get a comfortable combination nursing & pumping bra that you can wear for your daily bra.
Remember that travel and a different environment can affect your baby’s temperament as well. Be ready for some extra fussiness and baby might turn to feeding or need extra cuddles to help soothe themselves.
Have a plan to transport any expressed breast milk. Equip yourself with the necessary coolers and ice packs (our Twist Cooler Bag is a great solution!) to keep things cold. Be aware of storage guidelines for breast milk to ensure it is preserved for safe consumption by baby.
For air travel, breast milk is not restricted by other liquid TSA guidelines for carry on luggage. It is allowed through security checkpoints in reasonable quantities and must be screened separately from the rest of your belongings.
If you are going to be flying, consider baby wearing. This makes moving through the airport easier and makes the baby feel more comfortable and secure in the new environment.
Travel With Baby | Large gatherings
New people, even though they may be friends or family, are strangers to your little one. Being passed to “unknown” people can be very stressful for your baby. Older babies are good at telling people if they want to be held or not and if they are not comfortable, so follow the baby’s lead. Check in often to make sure that things have not changed.
New environments can overwhelming and overstimulating for infants
Smaller babies do get irritated more quickly but may have a harder time communicating what is wrong. If you notice your little one starting to feel uncomfortable, remove the baby from the situation. Baby wearing can be a helpful tool in these situations, even if it’s only for part of the time. Keeping baby close to you will help keep your stress level down, as well as and your baby’s. Please do not be afraid to take your baby to another room if either of you need a break.
New people bring new germs that your baby will be exposed to.
Babies’ immune systems are new and still developing, so the introduction of many new germs can create the risk of your little one getting sick. Make sure that anyone that comes into contact with the baby washes their hands first, and anyone with symptoms of illness does not make contact with the baby at all.
Breastfeeding throughout travel with baby will help provide them with antibodies and immune protective factors to help keep them safe and healthy.
Sometimes family members can be so overjoyed with the new baby that feeding delays can result.
For a breastfeeding parent, this can lead to a very frustrated baby and may cause clogged ducts and even mastitis. Sometimes, in older babies, it may cause unintended early weaning. Continue to nurse your baby on demand as you normally would do. Use the need to feed your baby to help you and your baby to take breaks in a quiet location. This can be especially helpful if you are not comfortable nursing in front of people. Do not feel like you must answer questions about your breastfeeding.
Travel with baby | Pumping Breastmilk
Parents who are Exclusively pumping: maintain your pump schedule, just as you would at home.
Plan ahead of time and coordinate with where you are staying to confirm that you can store your milk there safely. Print out preparation and storage guidelines ahead of time to make sure that anyone else who handles your milk is aware of these instructions. Having a manual pump with you in case pump parts get lost or you need to pump on the go can be helpful.
Drinking Alcohol and Breastfeeding
Do I need to pump and dump if you have an adult beverage?
The answer is No, with moderate alcohol consumption, you do not need to pump and dump.⠀A general rule of thumb is if you feel that you can safely hold your baby, then it is safe for you to feed your baby.⠀
⠀Alcohol is detected in breast milk for 2-3 hours per drink after it is consumed – levels are usually highest 30-60 minutes after the drink has been consumed. Pumping and dumping does not speed up this process. Alcohol leaves your milk just as it leaves your blood stream. Typically the recommendation with alcohol and breastfeeding, is to feed baby or pump then consume your alcoholic beverage right after milk removal to take advantage of the time in between feeds for the alcohol to leave your system. ⠀
There are many variations of normal and all bodies process alcohol differently. Body weight, metabolism, food and other drinks as well as general health can affect how your body metabolizes alcoholic beverages. you are the best judge of what you feel is safe for you and your little one. If you plan to drink, it is smart to make sure another adult caregiver is present to help with your baby.
Talk to your family about your plans and make sure they know not to feed the baby anything that is not approved by you.
If you are fearful that there is someone who will not respect your needs, you can practice baby wearing. This way the baby stays with you and eliminates the worry of the baby being passed around. Parents can also plan “quiet time” or “distress” time during the time this particular family member is around or wanting to feed the baby.
Most importantly, do not forget to slow down and enjoy this time making memories with your little one. Travel with baby can be fun and exciting, when you are prepared.
Dominique Gallo, IBCLC, RLC
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant