Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding
Travelling while breast or bottle feeding infants may be challenging, however, with planning it is possible.
Breastfeeding may prove more practical than bottle feeding if it avoids having to sterilise equipment and water. It is advisable to continue breastfeeding whilst travelling for both infant and maternal wellbeing. Exclusively breastfed babies, nursing as required, should generally not require additional water, even in hotter climates.
Travellers intending to fly while carrying expressed breast milk, formula milk or sterilised water need to plan transportation in advance:
- Travellers with babies are allowed to take enough expressed breast milk, formula milk, sterilised water and/or baby food required for the journey. In some cases this will be over the 100ml hand luggage
- Airport staff may open containers of expressed breast milk, formula milk, sterilised water and/or baby food to screen the liquids at the security point.
- The 100ml hand luggage restriction does apply to expressed breast milk, formula milk, sterilised water and/or baby food if the traveller is flying without the baby.
In general, breastfeeding mothers and children should be vaccinated in accordance with routine recommended schedules. Vaccination of the mother will not protect the breastfed infant.
Live Vaccines and Breastfeeding
There is some evidence suggesting that live vaccine virus can be transmitted via breast milk to infants under two months of age e.g. yellow fever. Expert advice should be sought before live vaccines are administered to women who are breastfeeding infants under nine months of age.
Inactivated Vaccines and Breastfeeding
Administration of inactivated (killed) vaccines is not known to affect breastfeeding, breast milk, or lactation.
It is possible that very small amounts of malaria medication may be passed in breast milk to the child. This, however, will not provide protection against malaria; infants require their own prescription. Women who are breastfeeding and travelling to malarious areas must seek advice on suitable antimalarial medication for themself and their baby from a healthcare professional.
Travel health is a specialised area of healthcare and General Practitioners may refer travellers to a specialist Travel Clinic for risk assessment and advice, in this circumstance.
Whenever possible, infants and children should avoid malarious areas; they are at particularly high risk of malaria. Malaria prevention through awareness, insect bite avoidance and antimalarial medication is paramount.
Travelling while bottle feeding requires practical consideration prior to travel. Travellers should bring supplies of formula milk, bottles and sterilising equipment with them 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 and babies are more susceptible to infection. The quality of tap water quality varies greatly from country to country. In many countries tap water is not safe for consumption. When travelling with babies the use of bottled water is a more convenient and safer option for making infant formula feeds.
Parents and guardians should observe the following rules when preparing bottle feeds 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.
- Bottle 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.
- Further information on water purification.