Updated: Nov 24, 2022
Ok, we know that we might be getting a LITTLE ahead of ourselves here, but the holiday season can sneak up QUICK and we wanted you to have this knowledge in hand before you might need it!
We know that travelling with little ones is a whole different ball game and usually needs a little bit more planning than before they were around!
First of all, with any baby, it’s a great idea to feed them before hopping in the car. This usually makes them happier in the car for longer periods, and may even facilitate a car nap! You can schedule your trip around when they might nap the best, or whenever works best for you. Even if it’s not their “regular” feeding time, try to give them a bit of a snack before you get going.
It’s recommended to give a baby (and you!) about a 15-20 minute carseat break about every 2 hours. This helps to prevent any sore little muscles and bones, and can prevent a dip in blood oxygen levels. For the great information about safe carseat travel at the holidays and any time of year, check out Safe in The Seat:
This two hour window usually will line up nicely with your baby’s need to feed - but of course, if they are showing signs of hunger sooner, you can pull over to a well-lit rest stop, or onto a side road with your hazard lights on, and feed baby there.
If you are bottle feeding, ensure that you have enough formula prepared, or have several bottles of sterilized water so that you can prepare your formula on the go. As winter travel conditions are present, consider having a few extra bottles ready to go just in case you get stuck or travel takes longer than planned.
Check out these guidelines for safe storage and handling of expressed breastmilk.
And if your baby likes a warm bottle, consider how you’ll warm it up for them. Before you go, you might want to pack a thermos or two with hot water so that you can pop a bottle in for a few minutes before giving it to your baby. Of course, be careful when you’re doing this so that you don’t burn yourself or your baby, and always test the temperature of your bottle before feeding your baby.
If you’re feeding at the breast, be sure to have your breastfeeding pillow within reach if necessary, and always travel in a soft, supportive bra. Be mindful that long periods of time with pressure on your breasts caused by a seatbelt or underwire bra can cause issues leading to plugged ducts, so just be sure to shift your weight every once in a while and definitely take advantage of those every 2 hour breaks to feed at the breast and keep your milk flowing. Never take your seatbelt off while travelling in a moving vehicle!
Once you get to where you’re going, follow all of the same principles of bottle cleaning, water sterlization, and feeding on demand as you usually would! If you are pumping, these same rules apply. Don’t be shy about using your host’s kitchen to clean your pump parts or anything else - it’s important to your baby’s health!
For all babies, they tend to get snuggled wayyy more during the visits with family and friends. If this is cool with you, that’s great! But if your baby is new, or if you have family that you aren’t particularly comfortable with holding your baby, a great way to manage this is with baby wearing! You can snuggle baby in with you, and when that you're not comfortable with asks to hold your baby, you can just say, “they’re really cozy right now, maybe later!” Sometimes just having your baby in a carrier is enough to stop the conversation before it starts.
If your baby is held for longer periods of time, they tend not to wake up to ask to eat as often - this can give you some rest if you need it, BUT bear in mind that this can cause a bit of milk backup, or engorgement. Try to be mindful of feeding your baby as often as you typically do- it doesn’t have to be on a super strict schedule, but just try to feed or pump near those times if you can. If not, just know that it’s also relatively normal for baby to cluster feed to “catch up” after the holiday is over and they aren’t getting constant snuggles. Babies will feed more often to make up for those missed calories and bump up your breastmilk supply. Just know that this is totally normal, and as long s your baby is making enough pees and poops, you can trust that your body is making enough for them to eat!
If your baby is a little bit older, particularly around months 4-5, and 8-10, they might be in the FOMO phase of their life, and be really distracted by all of the interesting people, the changes in environment, and new sounds. You can have them concentrate on their feed a little bit better by either using a breastfeeding cover (over bottle or breastfeeding), so that they are in their own little "room". If that does’t work, hopping out to a quiet bedroom to feed and have a little chill time with them will help as well.
Finally, we just want you to always remember that you’re the best parent for your baby! Family members can sometimes say the most ..interesting things sometimes about how you are caring for your baby, particularly when it comes to feeding. So just know that you are doing what feels right for your family, and you can just say that! “This is what works for our family” is a great way to show that you are confident in what is best for your babe, and you!
We hope that you have a wonderful holiday season filled with the people that you love, good food, and as much rest as you can get!
Until next time,
Loreli & Sara