I personally love flying with my breastfed baby because not only is it easier but it's also a lot more convenient. Even now my eldest is a toddler, I miss the days she could easily feed on the go- now I need a whole suitcase full of snacks, meals and not to forget lactose free milk to take her anywhere! So if you are breastfeeding and you're preparing for a trip abroad, below are my top tips for travelling with a breastfed baby!
Where you sit definitely makes a difference. I would recommend getting the front of the section (where the divisions occur) because the airline have bassinets that can be attached securely to the dividers. This provides a place for you to settle baby down to sleep or place them securely whilst you sort yourself out, go toilet etc. Don’t assume the airline will give you that seat because you have a baby (as I mistakenly did on an 8hour flight to the states recently) so be sure to contact them early.
If you can’t get that seat and you’re travelling with another adult – it makes a big difference to have them seated next to you. There is nothing like flight guilt when you truly feel your active, loud, unsettled baby is creating the biggest scene and everyone is judging you for it. Have your friend or partner close so they can share the load/embarrassment!
If you are travelling alone with baby, I'd vote for a window seat. The disturbance of air hostesses, trolleys and passengers going up and down the aisle throughout the flight and without having something to lean on for support is trying- although it does make escapes for leg stretches, bouncing of baby or toilet breaks a bit more challenging.
Anyone who knows what its like carrying a child/toddler will know that queue jumping is so necessary. Toddlers are inpatient and difficult to manage, baby’s are heavy and difficult to settle. Airport staff should be aware and willing to help where possible to move you through queues faster, just out of common decency if nothing else.
Take the Pram to the door. And another item for free!
If you're like me, it doesn’t actually matter how many times you’ve flown before – you never quite get the hang of airport timings. I always leave a whisker of time to check in and then by the time I've cleared customs and bag checks I'm making a mad dash for the gates, which always seems a thousand miles away! Anyway…the pram to the foot of the plane is essential! It’s a free addition and they load it onto the plane at the door and return it to the same place on the other side. A lightweight, easy foldable, cheap pram (as it’ll probably get battered in transit) is great to support your luggage and carry your baby- so you don’t have to. I also seem to often travel to faraway lands that don't provide cot beds, so I always take a portable one (also for free). Check with your airline before you travel how many baby related items they allow for free (I know a car seat is another acceptable item).
I also never travel without a baby carrier. My son is a mini sumo wrestler so being able to bounce him up and down the plane hands free and then slide into my chair and strap in easily is a lifesaver on my arms!
Make sure you and baby wear comfortable clothing. Airplanes can be quite cool so do pack a small blanket for baby just in case. For mums, Kara Blooms Magnolia dress is great for breastfeeding on a plane, where you might require that privacy and ease of access to the breast. It’s also lightweight to give you the freedom of movement that you need when your on the go!
Feed on take off and descent
One tip Ive never forgotten and have always used is to always feed baby on take off and descent. It helps adjust their little ears to the changes in pressures. As sucking helps relieve any build up, it prevents their ears from getting sore or blocked! Breastmilk, expressed milk from the bottle or water (if they’re over 6months) all work just as well.
Expressed milk, baby food
If your baby is exclusively breastfed then job done, there’s not too much else you have to worry about. If you want someone else to feed on the flight or your baby is weaning you may need some expressed milk in a bottle or baby food. Airplanes are very lenient on baby food, milk and water (allowing more than the usual 100ml allowance) they just have to check it over at scanning. I always separate the food and drink out into their clear plastic bags ahead of time to speed up this process. I occasionally use the lunch bags with built in ice packs to keep my breastmilk cold for long journeys- this allows me to transfer my milk from freezer to fridge within 12 hours.
Fair enough, some may find it poor etiquette to change your baby on the plane seats next to everyone - so make sure you identify in advance toilets on the plane with baby changing facilities (as not all of them will have them). If you need to make a mad dash, its always best to have planned this route ahead of time. I would recommend you travel with a changing mat and a 100ml hand sanitiser as sanitation on a plane is definitely variable and often questionable. And always, always always pack at least 2 changes of clothes and lots of nappies and wipes- never get caught out!