Thursday, December 3, 2009

Planning a Flight with Your Baby

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 soon-to-be-born grandbaby.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Take your Car Seat and your "Snap and Go" stroller right up to the plane and then gate check the stroller. It's waiting for you as you disembark. If there is an available seat you can take your car seat on the place with you. If not they will gate-check it too. If you don't have a gate-check bag, take large, heavy-duty bags and some masking tape. Covering the car seat and the stroller will protect them while in the cargo area.

4. Take your sling/baby carrier. This is great for walking through the airport, keeping your baby secure while flying, and calming a fussy baby on the plane – walking and bouncing. I just read the TSA website which states that babies need to be removed from carriers and strollers while going through the security checkpoint.

5. A backpack diaper bag will keep your hands available for the baby.

6. In your carry-on pack 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 or even and unexpected overnight stay.

7. Pack 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.
Buy disposable changing pads and throw them away after each use. This helps to protect the baby from the environment.

8. Check the TSA website and take a copy of the rules with you – you may need it at security. Currently you may take breastmilk through security (when traveling with or without the baby) in larger quantities than three ounces and 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.

9. Take your Bebe au Lait. This terrific cover-up allows mom and baby to see each other and nurse discreetly. Also try a Nursing tank top and layers; the tank makes nursing so easy while keeping your midsection covered. The tank is beloved by most of our clients.

10. Planes are flying "germ bags" so take a few antibacterial wipes in a baggy and wipe down the arms of your seat and the tray table and don't forget your hand sanitizer – use it frequently.

11. 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.

12. 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 'um help.
Enjoy Your Trip!

by Corky Harvey MS, RN, IBCLC, Co-Founder of The Pump Station & Nurtury™

Transportation Security Administration's (TSA): What to Know Before You Go


Anonymous said...

I just got home from our first trip with our ten week old baby, and was happy to discover that I unknowingly used most of these tips- except the breastmilk in the eyes/nose... Should have done that, because the baby got a cough.

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

Great tips! Travel with a baby is so much easier with lots of preparation, but for new moms there is a lot of trail and error - thanks for the advice!

Unknown said...

Thank you for these awesome tips, i really enjoyed your post.

nursing tank

Anonymous said...

This is technically a post flight question. What is the word on including a rental car seat in a rental car as opposed to bringing our own? We have an infant who will be flying in our lap so we don't really need the car seat on the plane.

Unknown said...

Anonymous (from June 15). We are doing what you described -- keeping the baby in our laps on the flight, renting a car seat for destination -- for a trip next week. I'm a little nervous about not having a stroller with us, but seeing as we're going to be surrounded by family (it's a wedding), we should have plenty of arms to help us hold and carry the baby. Fingers crossed!

Unknown said...

This is very helpful information! Flying with little ones can sometimes be a challenge. Thanks for writing!

Danielle Gauss, IBCLC

The Pump Station said...

@ Danielle. Like your blog, feel free to repost it on yours if you'd like.