A packing list for babies and breastfeeding mothers
Parents and caregivers with young babies should plan ahead when packing for their travels, whether or not children are joining the trip. Mothers who breastfeed might need to take extra precautions if they plan to pump on vacation. A Baylor College of Medicine family recommends making a packing list and dividing the work among parents.
Items for breastfeeding moms:
- Breast pump, bottles, dish soap and bottle brush to clean bottles
- Bottle warmer if you don't know if you're going to have access to hot water
- Extra hand pump
- Nursing pillow
- Breast pads
- Medication (especially if you're going somewhere you can't buy things easily)
- Sunflower lecithin or nipple cream in case you get a clog
- Nursing cover
- Extra clothes
"The big consideration is if you pump, what do you plan to do if you have extra milk?" said Dr. Gal Barak, assistant professor of pediatric hospital medicine at Baylor. "If you plan on traveling back with it, there are considerations to pack for that, like extra freezer bags to keep your milk cool for transport and something to transport your milk in, like a Nalgene bottle or mason jar."
If you travel with or without your baby, think about where you plan to store the milk. Some hotel rooms only offer a beverage cooler that is not cold enough to protect your milk. If your trip lasts more than four to seven days, you are outside your window of storing milk in a questionable hotel fridge. Some hotels might let you freeze the milk, but have a plan to transport your frozen milk back. After going through security, you might ask an airport restaurant for some ice to keep your milk cool on the flight.
TSA laws allow people to travel with milk with or without your baby. Barak recommends printing out TSA policies in case you come across an agent who is less familiar with policies. If you travel internationally or are worried about traveling with milk, shipment services exist so you can guarantee getting your milk transported. Some might opt to freeze their milk and stuff it into a hard suitcase, keeping it insulated.
"Allocate extra time if traveling with breast milk or formula, especially if you're traveling without the baby," she said.
Items for baby:
- Diapers, wipes, paste and swim diapers
- Sound machine or anything your baby needs to sleep soundly. Even if you don't have one, it can be helpful to bring one to a new environment to drown out extra noise.
- Baby toiletries: more sensitive items for their skin rather than hotel toiletry offerings
- Sleep sack, extra burp cloths and extra clothes for blowouts
- First aid kit, Tylenol, Motrin, baby thermometer and NoseFrida (nasal aspirator)
- Nail clippers, toothbrush and toothpaste if they have teeth
- Books and toys
- Eating utensils and straw for older kids
- Stroller vs. car seat vs. baby carrier; choose the method you prefer
Travel plans should be divided per partner to avoid making mistakes and forgetting important items. Dr. Matthew Carroll, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor and Barak's husband, explains how their family takes on different roles when traveling with their baby. While they both handle the travel agenda, she focuses on packing while his responsibilities include:
- Travel documentation (make sure passports/IDs are up to date)
- Boarding passes
- Optimizing how to get through security
- Making a travel agenda: When do we need to leave? How will we get from airport to hotel? How will we get around once we arrive? (This requires collaboration on both sides)
- Booking hotels and flights
"Plan how you're going to travel with the baby in the airport, in the plane or whatever vehicle ahead of time. Some prefer a stroller while others might prefer a car seat or carrier," Carroll said.
Remember to check airline policies on strollers and car seats, as some might require you to check larger items.