Our daughter was eleven-months-old on our first trip, and she’d weaned herself from breastfeeding at about nine months. It was on purpose that I booked our trip after she was done nursing – and I’m a little ashamed to admit it was because…
A) I kind of dreaded breastfeeding on vacation, and
B) I was able to drop the rest of the baby weight.
Although she was down to just two bottles a day by that point, I still was quite concerned about lugging all that formula down with us, the safety of the water (we were visiting Cuba), and how I would clean and sterilize the bottles and nipples for bottle feeding.
But I figured it out! And I’m happy to share these bottle feeding travel tips with you – managing flying, mixing formula, and sterilizing when you’re on vacation.
Bottle Feeding Travel Tips – Flying
The fluid guidelines seem to be forever changing, but note that the TSA deems formula and breastmilk to be a “medically necessary liquid and gels” and that they “are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3.4 ounces (100ml).” It’s best to keep baby’s food and bottles together in a separate bag, and have it handy so you can easily pass through security with it. One of my top tips is to get baby used to room temperature bottles and food so you are saved of the hassle of warming it while you’re en route, although there are a number of portable baby bottle heating devices now on the market that seem ok.
As we were visiting Cuba, the likelihood of finding the same brand of formula was pretty slim, so I brought enough for the duration of our trip, and then some. Although it took up a fair amount of room, I packed the can in our carry-on – for two main reasons. I wanted customs to be able to see the original packaging, and I didn’t want to chance a lost bag with the formula in it. Of course I brought extra in our checked luggage, as well as some baby puree essentials to get us through the week. In hindsight I look back and scoff at my anxious, overprepared, first-time mother self, but in reality I’m all about what works for you with no judging, so if bringing down triple what you think you’ll need makes you feel better, by all means pack it and don’t apologize for it.
Bottle Feeding Travel Tips – Formula
Using bottled water for formula is not (usually) necessary at home, but I was concerned about what kind of bottled water to expect in Cuba. Turns out it was just fine. I found this information at the UK’s nhs about being mindful about the sodium and sulphate content of bottled water.
If you have to use bottled water to make up a feed, check the label to make sure that the water contains:
-less than 200 milligrams (mg) a litre of sodium (also written as Na)
-no more than 250mg a litre of sulphate (also written as SO or SO4)
You may need to use bottled water to make up a feed if:
-your drinking water has been contaminated because of flooding
-you’re travelling abroad and drinking the local water is not recommended
Note that there was no sodium in Ciego Montero (the brand of bottled water we used in Cuba) but there was 120mg of sulphate. I wasn’t thrilled about having any content of anything but a bit of comparison here on this site put my mind at ease. Some are so worried that they bring down the pre-mixed cans of formula in their checked luggage. While this is a surefire way to pay a fortune in baggage overweight fees, if the cost is worth the piece of mind to you, then it’s worth the expense.
Bottle Feeding Travel Tips – Sterilizing
If your baby’s three-months-old and younger, you’ll need to boil the water regardless. And if you plan on sterilizing your bottles in the hotel room, you’ll need also need a travel kettle – and it’s not nearly as big of a pain as it sounds…
If you’re not already using them, for travel the easiest bottles to use are the ones with the sterilized bags. This way you really only have to wash/sterilize the nipples and caps, and they take up much less space in your carry-on/luggage as well. In a perfect world your accommodation has a kitchenette or at least a microwave, which would make packing your microwave sterilizer a sensible option – especially since you could pack all your gear inside of it, and it’s handy to have on the counter as a catch-all for all your feeding gear before you do the washing up at the end of the night.
Now since my daughter was eating mostly table foods and only on two bottles per day, I did not find the preparing and washing up of the bottles to be a big deal. However, if I were traveling with an exclusively bottle-fed baby still only on a liquid diet, it may seem more daunting. I chose to look at it as like I’d be washing bottles at home anyway, so I may as well have an umbrella drink waiting for me once I was finished, and a wonderful new place to explore with my family-of-three. PLUS! My husband got a chance to see how much work was actually involved in feeding a baby on a full-time basis, which helped him to realize what I did all day – ie., mostly feed the baby, and clean up after feeding the baby 😉
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