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Infant Feeding when Travelling Abroad

If you’re travelling abroad for your holiday, a little planning and preparation beforehand can make feeding comfortable.

Here are some things to think about:

Air travel

Many airports have special facilities to make breastfeeding as comfortable as possible. For example, Gatwick airport has baby care rooms which includes chairs for nursing mothers. Look out for this symbol or one like it!

Check what your airport has in advance to support your breastfeeding and use the Information Desk at the airport for advice and support.

Remember It is illegal for anyone to ask you a breastfeeding woman to stop breastfeeding, or to leave a public place. If you are made to feel uncomfortable or experience a problem while travelling, speak to a member of staff or find a help desk.

If you want to carry expressed breast milk, formula milk or sterilised water on the plane for the journey, you will be allowed to do so even if in some cases this exceeds the 100ml hand luggage allowance. Airport staff may open containers to screen any liquids at the security checkpoint.

On the plane

Breastfeeding on the plane can be helpful and comforting for your baby as they settle into the new environment.

Try to feed your baby on take-off and landing as the sucking will help their ears to ‘equalise’ and reduce discomfort while flying.

You may find an aisle or window seat more comfortable as you will have more room to feed comfortably.

Consider the timing of your flight and how it will impact your babys routine.

Keep hydrated! It is important to ensure you are drinking water during flights.

Thinking about what you are going to wear really helps. Just make sure it is comfortable for you and your baby. Pack a spare top in case of any accidents.

Airlines may have policies on breastfeeding, you can contact them before your flight to ask for their policy.

Breastfeeding when abroad

If it’s a warm climate, fully breastfed babies do not need any water until they’ve started eating solid foods. During hot weather they may want to breastfeed more than usual.

Remember that breastmilk or infant formula should be their main drinks during the first year.

In hot weather, you may need to offer some additional water outside of mealtimes from around 6 months.

Breastfeeding parents should keep well hydrated.

Remember storage guidance on expressed breast milk and discard any expressed breast milk that is not finished after a feed.

Formula feeding when abroad

Travelling while formula feeding requires practical consideration prior to travel:

  • You should consider taking supplies of formula milk, bottles and sterilising equipment with you as they may be unobtainable in the destination country.
  • Good hygiene is imperative when making up bottle feeds as an infant’s immune system is not fully developed, meaning babies are more susceptible to infection.
  • When it comes to your sterilising equipment, check to see whether your accommodation has a microwave before you depart so you’ll know whether you’ll be able to use a microwave sterilising unit. If it doesn’t, sterilising tablets can be used to keep your bottles clean and safe throughout your trip.

The quality of tap water varies from country to country. If using local tap water, remember to boil water first.

Parents and guardians should observe the following rules when preparing formula feeds using bottled water abroad:

  • Bottled water may contain too much salt (sodium) or sulphate. If using bottled water to make up a feed, check the label to make sure the sodium (also written as Na) level is less than 200 milligrams (mg) per litre, and the sulphate (also written as SO or SO4) content is not higher than 250mg per litre.
  • Bottled water is not usually sterile. It must be boiled before preparing the feed. Do not re-boil bottled water as this may concentrate sodium and sulphate levels.
  • Always check the seal on bottled water. If it is broken, do not use it.
  • Visually check bottled water. If it looks dirty it is not safe to use unless treated first.
ParentLine logo

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-5 years called ParentLine. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9.30am and 4.30pm in Brighton & Hove and Monday to Friday between 9am to 4.30pm in West Sussex, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a health visitor within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.

Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.

This page was last reviewed on 11-07-2023

This page will be next reviewed on 11-07-2026