Remember when traveling used to be easy because you only had yourself to worry about? Those were the days, right? Once you have kids traveling becomes a whole different ball game.
The list of things not to forget is longer and if you are exclusively breastfeeding now you have to worry about TSA guidelines when traveling with breastmilk.
Here are some tips to minimize stress when traveling with your breastfed baby.
1. Don’t ever take any cheap airlines. Airlines like Spirit or Frontier with younger kids is a hell to the no because it’s so uncomfortable for adults as it is imagine how stressed you’ll be with a baby whose uncomfortable too.
From my experience the chairs are hard as hell, they are practically on top of each other, they don’t go back, you can barely move your legs, you don’t get an in flight movie, they charge you for beverages, the layovers are way to long and they don’t give out free snacks. 😩
You get what you pay for and peace of mind is priceless, plus in the grand scheme of things they really aren’t cheaper. They reel you in with low fares but up sell you on everything else from seat preferences to carry on bag fees. I’m even convinced they’d charge you for toilet paper if they could. They are so petty.
2. If your going to fly choose a direct flight. Direct flights with a baby is easier on everyone. The shorter the flight the better.
3. Book your flight around baby’s nap schedule. Flying right before nap time is ideal because baby will typically sleep the entire or at least the majority of the flight. That way you and everyone on board can peacefully enjoy the flight. There’s nothing worst than a fussy baby on an already long flight. It’s a buzz kill.
4. Get the window seat if you can. That way other passengers won’t accidentally hit your baby. That or a front aisle seat if your child goes frequently to the bathroom.
5. Before boarding ask if the flight is full. If it isn’t full you can bring your car seat. It will make it so that you can rest your arms. If this isn’t possible you can strap on a carry on to be hands free.
6. Prepare your milk ahead of time. Get to pumping and storing in 3.4 ounces if you want to bring them on your flight.
7. Don’t forget your insulated bag to store your milk in. Tip: To heat bottles ask flight attendant for coffee and place bottle in coffee cup.
8. Nurse during take off and landing. It helps with their ears popping. Tip: If nursing doesn’t work consider a pacifier.
9. If your breastfeeding you may want to bring a nursing cover. It helps to feed as needed during the flight. Just throw it over their head and baby’s got breakfast, lunch or dinner.
10. Don’t check your breast pump in. Your breast pump is precious cargo I wouldn’t check it in. Mine is pretty pricey and I wouldn’t risk it getting damaged. Most airlines will let you carry it on for free anyways but just call ahead of time and double check with whatever airline your flying with.
11. Remember to bring baby’s birth certificate. You can even take a picture of it just in case you forget to bring it like I did once. It will save you lots of time and trouble.
Quick story: I packed everything on my last trip except the baby’s birth certificate. Who does that? Me. 🤦🏽♀️ Don’t be like me.
Luckily, I had a picture of me and the baby in the hospital saved on Snapchat and was able to use that to board.
12. Bring print out of TSA rules for baby food and breastmilk/formula/juice/pouches. You’ll be surprised how many of the TSA workers don’t know their own rules. They will try and make you throw away your baby’s necessities until you show them the print out.
13. Give your family extra time. You never know how long TSA is going to take or what issues may occur the day of your flight so just make sure you arrive early so you don’t miss your flight.
14. Pack lite. Your diaper bag doesn’t need to be filled to the max. Doing that just makes finding everything a lot harder. You only need the bare minimum. I say extra clothes, a bottle, wipes and 2-3 diapers to be on the safe side.
15. Gate check stroller and car seat. (A 2 in 1 is the way to go) Most airlines accept both with no extra charge. This way you can use the stroller to double as storage for everything you carried on when walking to baggage claim.
16. Pack toys that your child loves. Whatever you know will entertain them and help you have a successful flight make sure they come with you on the plane. It really doesn’t even have to be toys either. If you child loves to play with freaking boxes have a box for him.
17. Your kids favorite snacks are essential. Kids are always hungry so keep the snacks within arm reach. You don’t want to get stuck buying expensive airport snacks that are double the normal price.
18. Things most people don’t know is that there is a changing table in most planes. When I flew Southwest it was above the toilet. This is good to know because I would feel awful if my baby funked up the whole plane and then had to torture everyone while I changed my child all out in public.
19. Don’t get offended easily. If the passenger next to you decides to move because your baby is annoying the shit out of them let them go and don’t apologize.
On one of my return flights the couple next to me spotted empty seats and requested to change seats and it was the best thing ever to happen for me.
I got the entire row to myself. I guess I’ll consider that the second perk of flying with a child under 6 after family boarding.
20. You don’t have to fly with your kid on your lap. If you don’t think you can handle flying with a lap kid buy your child their own seat. If I’ve learned anything through traveling with kids is to manage your expectations and be realistic about your personal preference. Don’t suffer because it’s cheaper if you don’t have to.
Just because kids under 2 fly free doesn’t mean you should loose your mind over trying to fly free. Flying with kids in general is tough. Know your limits. If you can handle it all I can say is enjoy it while it lasts.
Flying as a breastfeeding mom can be stressful especially the first time. You don’t know what you don’t know. Traveling with kids takes practice. This last trip taught me what to pack and what not to pack. With each trip I learn a little more.
Hopefully what I’ve learned in traveling with my own baby will allow you to relax while packing and preparing to have a smooth flight. Even if your child does have a meltdown don’t be to hard on yourself. After all they are kids. They are unpredictable.
Once you get to your destination have a blast until it’s time to come home back to the grind.
If you have any other tips feel free to share them with me.