Travelling with a bottle-fed baby undoubtedly involves packing more than you would when travelling with a breastfed baby. But, there’s no reason you can’t explore the world with your little one and bottle feed them at the same time.
Whether you want to stay overnight in a hotel, or go backpacking across Asia with your baby, you’ll need to make sure that you’re fully prepared for your journey. Here’s how…
This is a guest post by Jenni Fielding – part of our best baby travel advice series
Tips for bottle feeding on the go
- Tips for bottle feeding on the go
- The best products for bottle feeding whilst travelling
- How many bottles should you pack whilst travelling?
- Can you take baby milk on an airplane?
- Can you bottle feed a baby on a cruise ship?
- How to clean baby bottles whilst travelling
- How to warm baby bottles by travelling
1. Choose the right formula
Baby formula comes either in powder form or as a ready-to-drink pre-mixed liquid. Each type has its advantages and you’ll probably want to pack some of each to use at different times.
Powdered formula is cheap and relatively light for your luggage as you’re not packing any unnecessary water. Ready-made formula, on the other hand, is ready to use immediately and offers the most convenient option.
2. Choose the right water
The quality of tap water varies from country to country and it may not be safe to drink, even when boiled, so be sure to check before you go.
Using bottled water is an option, but some bottled water contains too much salt (sodium) or sulphate for babies. Check the label to make sure that the sodium is less than 200mg per litre and the salt is less than 250mg per litre. If the labels are in another language, look out for a bottle with a picture of a baby on it for the safest bet.
3. Pack enough formula for your trip
It’s not a good idea to switch your baby to a different brand of formula whilst you’re away as it can upset their stomach.
Don’t rely on being able to find the brand of formula that your baby is used to, particularly if you’re travelling to another country or your baby has dairy-free formula. It’s wise to pack more than you think you’ll need.
4. Put as much as you can in your carry on bag
Lost luggage happens more frequently that we’d all like and some items are hard to replace in a hurry. By packing your bottles, formula and other equipment in a carry on bag, you can be sure that it won’t go astray during your flight.
The best products for bottle feeding whilst travelling
Here are some of the things to consider buying for a vacation with a bottle-fed baby. You probably won’t need everything, but it’s good to consider it all and decide what’s essential for you and your baby.
Babies can be fussy when it comes to the bottles they like, so it’s probably best to stick with the bottles you usually use at home. Single-use disposable baby bottles are an option, but they can be expensive and they take up a lot of space if you’re away for more than a couple of days.
Some people like to use pre-sterilized disposable bottle liners whilst travelling so that bottles don’t need to be sterilized. However, you’ll still need to sterilize the bottle teat, so these are limited in how useful they are.
Taking a combination of powder formula and ready-to-feed formula can be the best way to ensure that you always have milk ready when you need it, without weighing yourself down with luggage.
Baby milk powder dispensers are ideal for travel. You measure out the formula before you head out each day and then you can just tip it into the water. You can also store these inside the bottles if you choose the same brand.
A travel bottle warmer is a thermal flask which keeps water hot so that you can use it to warm your baby’s bottle. It also comes with a container that you put the bottle in, along with the hot water.
A bottle brush is a must-have to be able to clean bottles thoroughly. This travel bottle brush comes with a case which doubles as a handy drying rack.
Don’t forget to pack a travel-sized bottle of dishwashing detergent. Otherwise, you’ll probably end up buying a full-sized bottle while you’re away and then tossing most of it before the return journey.
Sterilizing bucket and tablets
There are many ways to sterilize bottles, with electric steam sterilizers and microwave sterilizers being the most popular methods to use in the home. However, on vacation, you might find it easier to switch to a cold water sterilizing bucket. You just pop the bottles and nipples into the bucket with cold water and some sterilizing tablets and you can be sure that everything is germ-free.
Even if you love your baby bag, you may find that it’s easier to switch to a backpack for travelling. When you have a stroller in one hand and a suitcase in the other, wearing a backpack is just easier than a shoulder bag. Be sure to choose one with lots of pockets so that you can find things in a hurry.
You can see all our favourite backpack-style baby bags here.
How many bottles should you pack whilst travelling?
You should pack as many bottles as your baby uses in 24 hours, plus one or two spares. If you do your washing and sterilizing in the evening or overnight, you’ll always have enough bottles for the following day.
Can you take baby milk on an airplane?
Whilst liquids over 100ml aren’t usually allowed past security in the airport, exceptions are made for baby milk and water for infants. Airport staff are within their rights to ask you to taste any baby milk that they deem to be suspicious, but in reality, they rarely do.
It’s important to remember to remove any baby milk or water from your bag and place it separately onto the conveyor. If you have powdered formula, it’s fine to leave it in your bag.
Can you bottle feed a baby on a cruise ship?
Absolutely! Bottle feeding a baby on a cruise ship is no different than in a hotel, and sometimes it’s even easier. Take a look at this article about feeding your baby on a cruise for everything you need to know.
How to clean baby bottles whilst travelling
- Use your hotel room sink to rinse and wash the bottles with hot soapy water and a bottle brush.
- Pop the clean bottles into a sterilizing bucket. Add cold water and a sterilizing tablet and use the special lid to sink them under the water.
- Wait at least 30 minutes. You may find it easier to leave the bottles overnight.
- Wash your hands. Remove the bottles from the water and assemble with the teats and lids.
- Be sure to change the water in the bucket once per day.
Do bottles need to be sterilized?
In the USA, the CDC recommends that infant feeding items are sanitized until babies are three months old. However, in other countries, such as the UK, sterilization is recommended for all babies under 12 months.
Whether to sterilize whilst travelling is a personal decision, and you should think about whether you usually sterilize at home, where in the world you’re going to, and whether your child is generally healthy or not.
How to warm baby bottles by travelling
Before you start planning for how to warm baby milk on the go, consider whether you actually need to. If you’ve never given your baby room-temperature milk, you might be surprised to find that they like it and that there’s no need to warm bottles at all!
If your baby is adamant that they need the milk to be warm, as many babies do, then you have several options:
- Boil water in your hotel room
It’s important to check that your accommodation has a kettle. If it doesn’t, you should pack a travel kettle so that you can access the boiling water to warm the bottle of milk and also to make up powdered infant formula.
- Request a jug of hot water
If you’re in a cafe or restaurant, it’s generally pretty easy to request some hot water to warm your baby milk in. Of course, babies don’t always time their hunger to fit around your coffee break, so you might not always rely on this.
- Pack a travel bottle warmer
A travel bottle warmer is basically a flask which you can fill with hot water and a container to put the bottle in while it heats.
Having a bottle-fed baby shouldn’t put you off seeing the world. It’s perfectly possible to take almost any kind of vacation with your baby and to feed them on the go. Just make sure that you have all the equipment that you need, and a plan of action that includes getting hot water, cleaning bottles and whether to sterilize them or not.
With thanks to Jenny for providing us with all these handy tips on bottle-feeding your baby. If you’d like to learn more about breastfeeding and expressing milk when you travel, pop on over to this article.
About our guest Jenni Fielding
Jenni is a family travel blogger and mother of two who has travelled extensively with her kids. Since breastfeeding didn’t work out, she used bottles of expressed breast milk and formula when her children were babies and has lots of experience of bottle feeding whilst travelling by plane, train and cruise ship.
You can follow along with Jenni’s family adventures here:
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