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Planning a Flight with your Baby

by Corky Harvey MS, RN, IBCLC, Co-Founder

*Secret Tips Most New Moms Miss

Every week in our New Mother Support groups someone asks for tips on air travel with their breastfed baby. So here is a list of ideas that should make your trip easier. I hope this will also help my daughter Colleen when she travels home from Germany during the Christmas holidays with my grand baby.

  • Make reservations early and book a window seat for yourself. It is easier to breastfeed when you can turn your back to the crowd and get the baby latched on, then sit back and relax.
  • If traveling with another person, request an aisle and window seat. If the flight is not full, you may get the whole row and if not, the person assigned the middle seat will happily take the aisle. You might try flying at lower volume times of the day/week. However, in the current travel climate there may be no such thing.
  • Take your Car Seat and your stroller right up to the plane and then gate check the stroller, so it's waiting for you as you disembark. If there is an available seat you can take your car seat on the plane with you. If not they will gate check that too. If you don't have a stroller/car seat gate-check bags, take large, heavy-duty bags and some masking or duct tape. Covering the car seat and the stroller will protect them while in the cargo area.
  • Take your baby sling or baby carrier too. This is great for walking through the airport, keeping your baby secure while flying, and calming a fussy baby on the plane. Get up and stretch your legs and take the baby with you. NOTE: Babies need to be removed from carriers and strollers while going through the security checkpoint. www.tsa.gov
  • Consider using a Backpack diaper bag. It will keep your hands free.
  • In your carry on bag bring an extra shirt for yourself and enough diapers/clothes for the baby to make it through a blowout or two. Be prepared for a delay, and if you can, for even and unexpected overnight stay.
  • *Create diaper changing bags: one diaper and several wipes in a Ziploc bag (do a bunch). When you need to change the baby just grab a baggy, make the change and use the Ziploc for the dirty diaper.
  • Also considering getting some disposable changing pads and throw them away after each use. This helps to protect the baby from the environment.
  • Check the TSA website and take a copy of the rules with you. You may need it at security if you meet less informed security agents. Currently, you may take breastmilk through security (when traveling with or without the baby) in larger quantities than three ounces.
  • Breastmilk can be kept in a separate bag from other gels and liquids. You must declare that you have the milk and are encouraged to carry on only what is needed until you reach your destination. Any other milk that you want to take, can be packed in large Ziplocs, surrounded by ice cubes or blue ice and placed in the bags you plan to check.
  • Take your nursing covers too. We recommend the Bebe au Lait nursing covers and Hooter Hiders. This terrific cover allows mom and baby to see each other and nurse discreetly. Also try a nursing tank tops, and wearing layer. The tank makes nursing so easy while keeping your midsection covered. The nusing tank is beloved by most of our clients.
  • Planes are flying germ bags, so take a few antibacterial wipes in a baggy. Use them to wipe down the arms of your seat and the tray table.
  • Don't forget your hand sanitizer, you can get travel sizes. We don't have to tell you, but use frequently.
  • *Try to nurse your baby or offer a few sips of breast milk by bottle when you are taking off and landing. Getting the baby to swallow helps reduce pressure in the ears. If the baby is sleeping, don't wake him.
  • *Put drops of breast milk in eyes and nose repeatedly before and during the trip. This may help reduce the risk of the baby getting sick. It works like an antibiotic/antiviral! Good Stuff.
  • Ask for help: Getting your luggage through security, into the overheads, etc. can be a hassle. People feel good about themselves when they help others, so let 'em help.

ENJOY YOUR TRIP