Tips for Breastfeeding on a Plane for a First Time Mom

 In Travel Tips

Breastfeeding mothers rejoice. You can do it on a plane! Solo business traveling males- have no fear, breastfeeding mothers are generally a discreet bunch when it comes to cramped modes of transportation, at least I was when breastfeeding on a plane.

Now before the bottle feeders get up in arms, please know that I have experiences bottle feeding a baby on a plane and successfully breastfeed on a plane as well. I have tips for bottle feeders too. For various reasons I couldn’t nurse my boys for very long, so bottle feedings were a regular fixture in my home and on flights. Baby bottles are definitely easier, but breastfeeding on a plane can be just as convenient, if not more so. Just think of all that gear you don’t have to pack! After all, breastfeeding on a plane comes with built in equipment.

Pashminas for breastfeeding a baby

Style tips when breastfeeding on a plane

The scarf. Now is the time to pull out all of those fabulous scarves and pashminas you have in your closet. Although companies are finally making attractive breastfeeding scarves, my favorite breastfeeding cover up with my boys was a black, slightly see through, wide scarf I picked up at H&M years back. I would wear it around my neck and then cross it over my youngest while I was feeding him. This gave my baby some air to breath (kind of important), I could peek at him while breastfeeding on a plane without disturbing his snacking, and no one could see my breast. I would build my entire travel outfit around this one scarf so I didn’t have to pack an extra cover up.

Tops. Just like when you are out and about at home, you will need a good nursing top when you are on a plane. GAP used to make a nursing tank top that I love that was easy to wear under any shirt, but sadly they stopped making it. Look for a breastfeeding top that pulls away quickly and easily. The last thing you need is a botched top with a starving, crying baby on a plane.

Packing

You won’t need bottles, but you will need your cover up of choice, an extra shirt in case of leaks, and a decent burp cloth. No one likes baby spit up all over them for an entire flight. If you plan to pump your breast milk, you will need to bring your breast pump, along with a small cooler bag.

If you need to keep breast milk cool, pack a bag of frozen grapes to put in your insulated bottle bag, and bring along a few extra Ziploc bags to fill with ice in the airport and on the plane. It’s easier than dealing with TSA and an ice pack when you need to store breast milk.

  • Burp cloth
  • Cover up
  • Ziploc bag filled with frozen grapes if you plan to pump or bring breast milk
  • Extra Ziploc bags to grab ice along the way or store messy clothes
  • Breastfeeding pillow alternative. If you like your Boppy pillow but don’t want to haul it on board, use an airplane neck pillow instead. If gives your baby a squishy spot to stick their head and lifts them up a little.

Click through for the best seat to pick when feeding your baby… 

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Showing 15 comments
  • Lala

    Awesome tips! I wish I was able to travel more when my twins were babies. Getting to the store was journey enough.
    We were given these beautiful temples we call bodies for a reason. We are equipped to feed nurture and create life. Amazing!!

  • Kiera @easytravelmom

    Great tips! I feel like I flew a million times when I was nursing and in general people were very nice about it. But you are right, it helps to have an aisle seat!

  • Bronwen

    Great tips, love the frozen grapes idea and travel pillow alternative to the Boppy. I found that a zip up hoodie could work as a shield (pull one side forward aznd around baby’s head to create a wall between your breast and the aisle) in a pinch. In fact I once had a flight attendant conduct a 10 minute conversation with me about how quiet my baby was, asking if she was bottle fed, while I was breastfeeding her literally the entire conversation! She might have been particularly unobservant, but many people aren’t looking for you to have your boobs out and so don’t even notice!

  • Beth Henry

    Great post! I love the idea of packing frozen grapes instead of blue ice; hadn’t heard that one before! (About how long do these stay cold enough to consider frozen? Would they work for more than 6 hours?)

    • Hi Beth! Yes, they should stay pretty frozen for 6 hours I’ve used this method on a cross country flight. Just make sure you put it in an insulated lunch bag.

  • wandering educators

    excellent tips! our babies are the most important thing. 🙂

  • Allison

    We are well out of our breastfeeding days, but I may still find uses for that frozen grapes tip! I have seen a lot more breastfeeding moms in my area use specially made breastfeeding covers instead of the scarf. They tie around your neck, but have a stiff band around the top that creates a gap for you to see the baby while staying covered.

  • shiela

    wow! I am so thankful for the BREASTFEEDING tips… it will be a great help for me for I am a first time mom and we are planning to travel this month with my husband having our two-month old baby boy..

  • Jennifer Saranow Schultz (aka Hint Mama)

    Great tips, especially the one about the scarf. Besides serving as great DIY nursing covers, scarves can make great DIY plane baby slings = hands-free travel with a lap baby. More on that, and a link to your helpful tips, here: http://hintmama.com/2014/01/27/todays-hint-a-diy-sling-for-traveling-hands-free-with-a-lap-baby/

  • The Educational Tourist

    Great post and something worth talking about!

    Breastfeeding moms, relax. I have breastfed both of mine on planes and we had no problems whatsoever. Just do your usual thing. If someone near you is narrowminded and concerned then let THEM worry about moving to another spot. They are perfectly capable of locking themselves in the bathroom or galley until your ‘offensive’ task is done.

    Well fed infants are happy travelers. 😉

    Great post! Thanks for sharing,
    Natalie, The Educational Tourist

  • Kristie Hill

    I could have used this when my baby was born! He was 2 weeks old! when we flew with him for the first time! He hadn’t even learned how to latch yet! Nursing took at LEAST 1 hr. You should have seen me in the airport. I had his swaddle blanket over him, and ME! Almost missed the flight!

    • Keryn Means

      Oh no Kristie! I flew at 7 weeks with my youngest but at least he had latched by then. Glad you pushed through and flew anyway… and didn’t miss your flight!

  • Christan P

    Thanks for for the Mommy Tip Keryn! My wife and I would like to bring our baby along to our travels and your tip will be a big help!

  • Kaitlyn

    Just for the record…
    Southwest has it posted on their website: “Southwest welcomes nursing mothers who wish to breastfeed on the aircraft and/or within our facilities.”

    This is who our family prefers to fly with because of all the issues I have heard other moms having!

    • Keryn Means

      WAHOO!!! Score one for traveling families!

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