When you’re a new mom, there are a lot of firsts. The first diaper, the first feeding, the first outfit change, the first outing, the first time traveling… lots of firsts, for baby and you!
And that last one? Well, traveling can seem extremely daunting as a new mom, especially if it involves a lot of time in a car or navigating a busy airport.
But when there’s a will, there’s a way, and mama, you have the will! Thousands and thousands of mamas travel with their little ones each year. If they can do it, you can too.
First thing’s first: what you must pack to successfully travel with your little babe.
First, think of the essentials. What are the items you use in your daily life? Diapers, wipes, pacifiers, bottles, etc. These are musts, and extra diapers and wipes are essential while traveling!
Bring a few extra waterproof bags as well in case you need a place to store dirty clothes until you reach your destination.
Books & Toys to Entertain
On a long flight, your baby’s favorite gadgets and books can be lifesavers. Consider packing a few of these in your carry on so you can engage your baby during the flight.
If your baby isn’t walking (or even if they are), a stroller is a must for airports. If you’ve got a lot of walking to do between terminals, take a stroller to make getting around easier.
If you don’t need a stroller where you’re going (maybe you’re visiting family who has one!), opt for a wearable baby carrier in the airport instead. It’s much easier than lugging around a stroller, and it’s one less item you have to check at baggage.
Most planes have charging ports these days. Bringing along a phone or tablet with Netflix can be a game changer for entertaining babies, so remember your chargers!
Now that you know the packing essentials, you may be wondering what else you should know. Here are tips for proper breastmilk storage.
Your fresh milk will stay good for up to 4 hours after pumping. This is great for long trips where you may want to pump, but the baby isn’t quite hungry yet! In the fridge, it will stay good for 4 days.
If possible, take along a cooler with ice packs for storing extra milk. A cooler is a lot to lug around and won’t be an option while flying, though you can take breast milk through TSA (more on that later!).
Alcohol and Breastfeeding
We all want to relax on vacation, and you deserve to! If you have any alcohol, wait until it fully leaves your system before breastfeeding. A rule of thumb is 2 hours. This is when your extra stored breast milk will come in handy!
The day has finally come, and you’re taking your babe on a plane for the first time. Have no fear! With preparation and a bit of patience, it will be a breeze.
Where you can buy diapers or other supplies in an airport
We recommend packing a diaper for every hour or so of your travels, and a few extra can never hurt! You can usually find small packs of diapers at airport convenience stores if you find yourself in a pinch.
Do you need to check your stroller?
You will need to check your stroller, and most airlines even offer it for free. Check with your airline for specific rules and stroller size rates. You can usually check them right at the gate before boarding the plane.
Mamava PodsMamava Pods are revolutionary privacy rooms that are popping up in public places across the country, including some airports! These “pop up” rooms allow mamas to sit down and feed their little one with total privacy while in public. Check your airport’s website before traveling for Mamava locations.
Where to breastfeed in airports
If your airport has not yet installed Mamava Pods, you may be wondering about other options. Well, thanks to the Friendly Airports for Mothers Act (FAM), as of 2018 all medium and large airports are required to have “lactation rooms.” This law requires the rooms to be inside TSA, separate from restrooms, and be private. So even if your airport doesn’t have Mamava pods, they may have other options!
In other cases, it may be handy to pack a breastfeeding cover in your bag and locate an unoccupied gate or other less-populated area of the airport.
And if you’re comfortable feeding in crowded areas in the open, you go mama! There are no wrong answers.
Once you’ve made it to the plane, there are a few tips that can make travels that much smoother.
- Window seat: Want to breastfeed on the plane? Try booking a window seat! This provides more privacy and allows you to rest your head.
- Get strategic with feeding: Ears pop during take off and landing, and the same goes for baby ears! Try to feed your baby during these times, as the swallowing will help relieve pressure.
- Give your baby a seat: In some cases, it may be worth it to buy an extra seat for your child. This gives them more space and allows them to alternate between the seat and your lap, which may help fussiness.
- Take a car seat: Did you know that most airlines allow certain car seats to come along for the flight? This option could be great for helping your baby feel secure and in a seat they’re used to.
Restaurant stops provide great opportunities to feed your baby while getting a bite to eat yourself.
In a busy restaurant, a breastfeeding cover can be a great source of privacy. We love Cozy Covers, because they’re spacious, comfortable, and cute!
What to do when asked to stop
As a breastfeeding mama, you have rights, and one of them is the right to feed your baby in public! If you are doing so and someone asks you to stop, simply state that you have the right to feed your child, and they need to eat. That’s that.
Motherhood is the best thing in the world, but it can be discouraging at times. Saying a few words of encouragement to yourself using affirmations can never hurt! These are some of our favorites.
Can I take breast milk through the TSA?
This is one of the most commonly asked travel questions, and the answer is a big YES! The 3.4 oz rule does not apply to breast milk, and you can take it right through. For time and ease, keep it in a separate bag (separate from other liquids), and notify an agent before it goes in the scanner.
When can you fly with a baby?
It’s not a great idea to fly with your baby immediately after they’re born, and many airlines have restrictions beginning with a certain number of days old. However, doctors recommend waiting until the baby is 3 or even 6 months old, as by this point their immune system has developed a bit more.
Does my baby need a passport?
They sure do! If traveling internationally, your baby will need their own passport. It’s also useful to have documentation for domestic travels (like a birth certificate), just in case.
Is travel insurance worth it?
You know what they say, you hope you don’t need it but you’ll be glad to have it if you do. If traveling internationally, it is highly recommended to research and find a coverage option, as some US health insurance isn’t valid outside of the country.
What time should we travel?
This is totally up to you and your routines, and no time is necessarily better than others. Some parents prefer flying overnight so their baby will sleep the whole time, whereas others avoid nighttime travel. Plus, there’s never a surefire way to know how your baby will react and behave! Choose a time, and go with the flow. You’ve got this!
We couldn’t send you on your travels without sharing 3 of our favorite things!
First up are these reusable storage bags from Junobie, perfect for storing milk! The silicone bags are plastic-free, FDA approved, and perfect for storing a bottle’s worth. They keep milk fresh and make a great environmentally-friendly option!
For breastfeeding in the airport, in a restaurant, or anywhere else, Cozy Covers offer privacy. They’re roomy, stretchy, full coverage, and are great for feeding your little one wherever you are!
Let’s say you pump so much milk during your travels that you wonder how you’re going to get it back home! While milk is allowed through TSA, sometimes the last thing you want is one more item to lug through the airport. When that’s the case, consider shipping your milk right to your home!
Milkstork is an innovative company that allows mamas to avoid wasting their milk. When you shop with them, they keep your milk refrigerated and safely deliver it to your door in either 72 or 96 hours. Oh, and they ship both domestically and internationally!
Traveling by car is much easier than by plane, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its own set of challenges! Here are some tips for your journey.
- Plan stops ahead of time: Map out easy places to stop ahead of time, such as rest stop locations and other points of interest. When you know there’s a place to stop 5 miles ahead, you won’t need to cram into the back seat to feed the baby.
- Bottle feed in the back seat: But if your baby needs food now, you can sit in the backseat and feed them a bottle to save a stop (if you have a travel companion behind the wheel, of course) .
- Be patient & flexible: Know that traveling with a baby changes the game, and patience and flexibility are key.
- Pack extra essentials: You never know! Extra diapers, a change of clothes (within arm’s reach), wipes, baggies, etc. are always good to have.
- Stay hydrated: Road trips often induce dehydration, simply because we’re not as focused on drinking water as normal. Try to stick to your routine and make sure to get enough H20!
- Cooler and ice packs: Since you can’t nurse your baby while the car is in motion, you’ll need to pump and bottle feed. Take a cooler and ice packs along to save milk for later if needed!
- Restaurant stops: If you’re in the middle of an hours-long road trip, consider tucking into a restaurant to get a bite to eat, stretch your legs, nurse, and give your baby a change of scenery.
Mama, as you travel with your baby, remember one thing: You’ve got this! Mom-ing is hard, but well worth it. With a little preparation and some extra baby items, you can help your baby adapt to travel, wherever you may go!
We've got more where that came from, mama! Check out these resources for making motherhood a little more organized:
- Time Management for New Moms
- Why I worked with a Baby Planner for Baby #2
- 7 Breastfeeding Myths You Shouldn't Believe