Are there any tricks to traveling with a breastfed baby?
It's much easier to travel with a breastfed baby than a bottle-fed one. A breastfeeding mother doesn't need to worry about packing bottles and formula or sterilizing all the feeding supplies. Your milk is always ready and always at the right temperature, and the comfort of nursing can help reduce the stress of being in unfamiliar places.
If you fly, take an extra set of clothes for you and the baby in your carry-on bag in case your luggage is delayed (or the baby's diaper leaks onto your lap). Wear a loose-fitting top you can easily pull up for nursing. A light blanket can help give you privacy in tight quarters. Air travel can be dehydrating, so make sure you drink plenty of water and/or juice. Your baby may feel some temporary discomfort during the plane's descent as the air pressure changes. Sucking (more specifically, swallowing) may relieve this discomfort, as it helps the ears to 'pop'. Note that safety experts recommend that, to avoid injury, babies and children should stay restrained in their seats for the duration of the flight just as adult passengers are expected to do. They also contend that it's just as important to properly restrain your child in a plane as it is in a car. (See References below.) Many mothers find that it is possible to breastfeed their baby in a car seat while remaining buckled in themselves. As an alternative, you may wish to offer a pacifier or sippy cup.
On a long car trip, be sure to allow extra time for breastfeeding stops. It's unsafe (and illegal in most places) to travel with the baby in your arms. If your baby needs to be held, stop the car and take a break. If your baby sleeps well in the car, consider driving at night or during nap times.
Even the most enjoyable traveling can be tiring with a baby. Try to leave plenty of time in your schedule for relaxing and unwinding. Pay careful attention to your own needs for nutritious food, plenty of liquids, and rest. Watch carefully to see that your baby is not overtired from too much handling or stimulation. He or she may want to nurse more than usual. It's not unusual for a baby's schedule to change when you're away from home.
Depending on your baby's age, bring along a few familiar toys as well as some new ones to entertain him/her. Some babies sleep better in strange places if you bring sheets and/or blankets from home (they'll smell and feel right to the baby). If you will be visiting friends or relatives who aren't supportive of breastfeeding, try some role-playing ahead of time to help you deal with criticism. (Look for more suggestions in the FAQ about "Dealing with Criticism about Breastfeeding.")
Childproof your flight -- this brochure from the Federal Aviation Administration of the USA discusses the importance of approved child restraint systems during airplane travel. (PDF file)
Our FAQs present information from La Leche League International on topics of interest to parents of breastfed children. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise. If you have a serious breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader. Please consult health care professionals on any medical issue, as La Leche League Leaders are not medical practitioners.