Flying with Breastfed Baby

Flying with baby

Flying to visit family or go on holiday can seem overwhelming but it can be great fun with a bit of extra planning. Here are some tips and tricks from experienced travelers that can help things go more smoothly for you and baby.

  • Be sure to check out Government of Canada information long before you at travel.gc.ca. It is also a good idea to research any requirements your airline has about carry-on restrictions, number of bags allowed, checking baby car seats, etc.
  • Taking small children through security screening from the Government of Canada contains helpful tips and also information about transporting pumped breastmilk when flying.
  • Use a sling or your favourite soft baby carrier in the airport. You can send the stroller through as luggage if you want to have it at your destination. The other option that some find helpful is to keep your stroller with you and use it to transport your carry-on luggage to the door of the plane. Airline regulations require that you take your baby out of the soft carrier or sling during take-off and landing. 
  • Carry as little as possible into the cabin. Stuff your coat into your suitcase just before it goes on the conveyor belt.
  • Nursing during take-off and landing can help baby’s ears adjust to the pressure changes. Your seat neighbours will appreciate you nursing your baby and helping her stay comfortable and calm.
  • Surprisingly, there can be privacy in the tight seating arrangements. Your seat neighbours may just think your baby is sleeping when she is actually nursing. A shawl or jacket draped around your shoulders can create a visual barrier and help your baby to be less distracted by the activity in the cabin.
  • To stay hydrated, ask for more than one drink at a time when the flight attendants come around. If you have a wiggly baby you may feel safer bringing a water bottle with a secure lid that can be refilled after passing through the security check. If it falls nobody will get wet.
  • In flights shorter than four hours you will only be offered a small snack. Bring some easy to eat foods that aren’t too crumbly or sticky. This suggestion applies to both mothers and young children who are eating solids. Everyone will be happier if they aren’t hungry.
  • If you have to change planes, go for a good walk in the airport during the layover instead of sitting around the departure lounge. Many large airports have indoor play areas for toddlers where you can hang out while waiting.
  • Especially when traveling with children who are a bit older, bring a couple of new small quiet toys.
  • Be prepared to miss the movie. Feel lucky if you get to read at all.
  • You might be able to stand at the back of the plane after the food service is completed to give your baby a change of position. This suggestion requires a smooth flight. Be prepared to return to your seat if the seatbelt sign comes on.
  • When you arrive at your destination, toss out your pre-baby sight-seeing aspirations. You can get a little bit done each day, but leave time for napping! All the energy to keep your baby happy on the flight and on the trip is coming straight from you. You’ll need some extra rest.

Updated 2022