Travel On and Breastfeed

Before having children, we lived lightly and traveled frequently, always eager to get to the next place. Having children naturally changed this, but as we continued to explore and travel across the country to visit family when we could, I was happy to discover how easily breastfeeding fit into the journey. With a sling or carrier to wear baby between car rides and feeding, we moved along at nearly our old pace some days!

It is said that to travel is to be free. To have a baby or toddler along who is breastfeeding can be liberating as well, with food and comfort ready any time, especially when on an airplane, hike or in a new place to sleep. After all, home can be wherever a family is at the moment. Preparing for a long car ride or flight may take a little more time. It can be reassuring though to know that much of what is needed to nurture baby or toddler – your presence to breastfeed and meet their needs – is already packed!

Frequent stops may extend arrival times but can also reveal new views and perspectives that were once passed by too quickly, solidifying that life really is a journey. The mountaintop vista will wait behind the marvel in the eyes of a toddler who discovers a millipede crossing the trail. So, take that trip, whether across town, state, country or the globe. Breastfeed wherever comfortable or find ever increasing designated areas in airports and elsewhere.

Hardly anything urges families so strongly to slow down in this age of speed and digital connection than babies who so intensely need nourishment and closeness, whether at home or traveling. For us, the stamina for consecutive hours in the car continues to extend beyond those early months and years with our children, now six and eleven. All of the stops were worth the effort. Happy trails!

Quick tips and points to remember

  • Naps are beautiful if timing works during longer travel stretches
  • Offering a hand to hold or sitting next to baby can be calming for all when in the car
  • Music and singing can be comforting
  • Nursing during take off and landing can help baby’s ears pop when traveling by plane. Bottles or pacifiers for bottle fed babies and gum for big kids can help as well:)
  • Favorite books and simple toys travel well
  • Healthy snacks and drinks spread over the miles can help older babies and children
  • Babies and children just want to be close and interact with us at any stage
  • Make up games!
  • Patience will be tested but know it gets easier
  • Breastfeeding is home for any nursling
  • As always, meeting needs now helps build independence later!

About the author: Allyson Wessells is a physical therapist and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) with Nurture Columbus, in Columbus, Ohio.  As a PT and IBCLC, she focuses on optimizing nourishment and growth for lifelong health. Other services include presentations emphasizing the interdependence of breastfeeding and infant development as a foundation for preventative healthcare. She is thankful for the opportunity to travel and looking forward to more adventures!

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