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Travel with Baby Tip #1: Breastfeed

My number one travel with baby tip is this: BREASTFEED. There is a lot of research out there showing that breastfeeding is best for your baby  and doctors across the board will undoubtably tell you the same. Studies have been done on how breastfeeding can prevent illness, childhood obesity, cancers in baby and mom, and [...]

My number one travel with baby tip is this: BREASTFEED.

There is a lot of research out there showing that breastfeeding is best for your baby  and doctors across the board will undoubtably tell you the same. Studies have been done on how breastfeeding can prevent illness, childhood obesity, cancers in baby and mom, and lead to a smarter kid (check out La Leche League if you want to know more). This is just a blog post, not a comprehensive report on the benefits of breastfeeding; so, based on my experience, here is why breastfeeding has been so good for me, a mom traveling long term on a budget.

1. Breastfeeding is Healthier. Studies show that breastfed babies have less of a chance of developing ear infections, stomach viruses, respitory infections, allergies, menengitis, pneumonia, SIDS and other childhood diseases. Breas tmilk also contains the mother’s antibodies that can protect against illnesses, so I can pass on my immunities to my baby through breast feeding. Ultimately, my breastmilk is specifically made for my baby. My baby provides signals that stimulate changes in my milk in things like fat content. You just can’t beat that.

Chaya breast feeding Petra dressed up as a lobster on Halloween

2. Breastfeeding promotes bonding. Breastfeeding releases the oxytocin hormone in the mom’s brain, reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of love and bonding for the child. It is easy for a traveling mom and a traveling baby to get stessed out: simply put, we don’t have a constant place to live or a constant extended community of people around us. Our stability and our constants are each other. Breastfeeding helps us take time out to just be together, skin on skin.

3. Breast milk is more convenient. Formula feeding entails a lot of work: buying the formula, buying bottles, cleaning bottles, having clean water to make the formula, and then having to make sure the formula is at the right temperature for the baby.

While these tasks are also necessary when at home, they are much more complicated when traveling. Imagine trying to figure out the ingredients in a formula package in a language you don’t understand. Or having to clean the bottles with tap water that isn’t safe for drinking. I have seen moms asking restaurants in airports to heat up their baby’s bottle in the microwave. Or what if your bus gets stuck in traffic and you run out of snacks and bottled water? Not to mention just how much precious space formula, bottles, and bottle brushes take up in your bag. While it’s not impossible to travel with a formula fed baby, it just seems a lot more complicated than just taking out your breast. I always have my breasts with me and they are always full of a clean, healthy snack at the right temperature.

4. Breastfeeding helps develop an adventurous eater. The flavor of breast milk changes depending on what the mother has eaten. So if a breastfeeding mother eats a variety of different foods, the breastfed baby will have more exposure to different flavors than a formula fed baby who only tastes the same formula. When traveling you don’t always have control over what kinds of food you can give your kid, anything that can help your baby be more receptive to trying new tastes is definitely worth it.

5. Breastfeeding is free. I am on a budget. A pretty tight budget. Wade never wants to be in one place more than three months, making it almost impossible for me to get a job teaching, which is what I went to school to do. On top of that we have Petra, and I like being with her, (which is good because finding trustworthy childcare in another country is pretty daunting to me). So we are trying to live off of this website. This means we are closely watching what we spend. Formula is expensive. Breastmilk is free.

This is not to put down mothers who can’t breastfeed for medical reasons or those who choose formula. I had some difficulties breastfeeding in the beginning, so I know it can be frustrating and formula feeding can seem easier. But from my experience, traveling and breastfeeding Petra this past year, breastfeeding is definitely my number one travel with baby tip.


Filed under: Food, Health, Travel With Family

About the Author:

After traveling on her own for three or four years, Chaya met up with Wade Shepard, the editor of VagabondJourney.com. They were married in 2009, and continue to travel the world together with their young daughter. From time to time Chaya blogs about family travel and life on the road. has written 102 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Chaya Shepard is currently in: Xiamen, China

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  • soultravelers3 February 2, 2011, 11:24 pm

    Breastfeeding is by far the very best tip for traveling with a baby or young child. We did child led weaning and we were sooo glad that we did as it gave me MUCH more confidence during world travel as far as illness. It takes 7 years for a child’s immune system to be complete, so having the boost from Mom’s through breastfeeding is a huge help during travel.

    One can really appreciate breastfeeding when your child is sick. My child rarely gets sick, but when she does the only thing she would take in when she was sick was breastmilk. Such a comfort for the parents to know that she was getting in the best nutrition and liquids possible when she needed it most!

    I had hepatitis A ( ate clams in Haiti while traveling when I was young). Luckily I had no symptoms and fully recovered, but now I know longer have to worry about it and neither did/dopes my baby/ young child because I passed that immunity on to her through long term breastfeeding. ( and many other such immunity protections) .

    I am grateful that I had measles, mumps, chickenpox etc when I was young, so I can pass the immunity on to her as we choose not to do any vaccinations. When we have run into breakouts of such, it’s always been the vaccinated kids who get the disease.

    Keep nursing her and let her decide when she is done, you will never regret that and have a very healthy child….emotionally and physically. ( BTW they nurse less as they get older into the toddler or preschool phase, but they still get the immunity and health benefits even then. World wide the average nursing age is 4 I think).

    Breastfeeding has so many benefits and absolutely the best for travel!

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  • Chaya February 9, 2011, 10:49 am

    Great points! The fact that breastfeeding passes on immunities is definitely one of its most important qualities. Especially since vaccinations contain so many side effects and some are not even approved for young children. We decided to do some selective vaccination. It is definitely stressful when a child gets sick anytime but especially when traveling and you don’t have a doctor you know nearby. Petra, too, only wants breastmilk when she gets sick, which is bound to happen sometimes with the changes in food and germs when traveling. Petra’s one and a half now and still nursing.

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