When my partner first approached me with the idea of travelling to Vietnam with George I was horrified! “How am I going to feed him?”, “How do I sterilise the bottles?”, “What about his routine?” My answer was no. But after a few days I started to look online for solutions. Safe to say, not that many people travelled with a 12 week old baby so we were on our own.
A brief look online for ‘sterilizing bottles’ and you are bombarded with the latest gizmos and gadgets that claim to make feeding on the go easier. You’re already anxious about the prospect of taking your precious one on a plane (potential danger zone) and now there are brands competing to take advantage of your lack experience. How on earth did our parents manage without google?
Travelling while bottle feeding your baby requires practical consideration prior to your departure. I have developed a simple, cheap and easy method that has enabled me to feed George anywhere. From the top of the Empire State building to the side of the road on the off beaten track. From the UK to Singapore, Vietnam, American and Europe. If you are a bottle feeding parent, here is everything you need to know about bottle feeding abroad.
IS TAP WATER SAFE?
You may prefer to use bottled water instead of tap water to make your babies feed. 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.
DO YOU NEED TO STERILISE THE WATER?
Bottled water is not sterile. Therefore you MUST boil bottled water when you’re making formula, whatever age your baby is. When giving bottled water as a drink, boil it if your baby is under six months old. Do not re-boil bottled water as this may concentrate sodium and sulphate levels.
When buying bottled water, check the mineral content. Steer clear of bottled water with a high mineral content, and try to use still water that’s low in sodium. Look for Na on the label, which means sodium, and choose one that contains 200mg or less of Na per litre. Check the levels of sulphate (SO or SO4), too. The sulphate levels should be no higher than 250mg per litre. Our go to is Evian. 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.
Take your milk powder with you. It may take up some room in your suitcase but I can’t recommend this enough. The last thing you want is to be searching for formula milk, in a City you do not know, with a hungry and jet lagged baby. Your baby may reject the new formula or it could upset their tummy. It may cost more money than at home, taking a chunk out of your travel budget. There are way more pros than there are cons. If you are worried about weight and your formula taking up too much space in your suitcase then share the load between your suitcases and/or carry on luggage.
MILK POWDER DISPENSERS
An absolute must for formula feeding parents. You prepare them before flights, day trips, car journeys – we use them everyday at home to save time. Simply count out how many scoops your baby requires for their feed, pop them into the compartment and close the lid. When your baby is ready to feed, empty the contents into your sterilised bottle with sterilised water and you are good to go! There are hundreds of sizes, colours and styles available on the market. They are small, compact and versatile – easy to wash and reuse. Keep in mind the size of the dispenser, as your baby grows you will need more powder per compartment.
CLEANING YOUR EQUIPMENT
You will need to wash and sterilise your feeding equipment when you are travelling. Can’t seem to fit your bottle sterilising machine in your suitcase? Take a large, clean, plastic container with a lid and use cold water sterilising tablets. Other options include disposable, pre-sterilised bottle liners and sterile packs of teats. You can also buy pre-sterilised, single-use bottles, but these could work out to be a bit pricey. Another option is a pack of disposable steriliser bags and sterilising tablets. Each bag holds and sterilises one bottle at a time.Again, these can be pricey and it all adds up.
Breastfeeding/expressing or exclusively formula feeding – cold water sterilising tablets are your new best friend. Cheap, simple and easy to use. Keep in a ziploc bag to avoid any water damage and take one packet more than you need, as this is one item that you will struggle to replace should something happen! We use Milton tablets but we have also used Supermarket own brands. For a step by step guide on how to sterilise bottles abroad click here.
Available in a range of sizes, colours and price, these simple devices eliminate the stress of needing hot water. You can fill them in a morning with boiling bottled water. You then have sterilised water ready to fill your feeding bottles as and when you need them. Or you can fill the thermos with boiling tap water and warm up a bottle, that already contains sterilised water, prior to a feed. They are flight friendly, boat friendly, bus friendly, car friendly – super versatile and re-usable. I use the Tommee Tippee thermos flask as it is small and compact. The flask has a solid plastic lid that unscrews. You then empty the contents of the flask into the lid and place your bottle inside. Once finished, carefully pour your boiling water back into the thermos to reuse for your next feed.
AIRPORT PRE-ORDER SERVICE
Check with your airport to see if they offer this service. You can pre-order a large quantity of ready to ‘eat’ formula milk that you simply collect once through security check-in. In the UK, Boots offer this service up and down the country. You pay in advance online via the Boots website and need to order a couple of days in advance. AlWAYS make the delivery day a day before you fly, to ensure that the milk is there for when you need it! Also in the UK and most international airports you are allowed to exceed the 100ml regulations. This includes breast milk that has been expressed. Note that you may be asked to taste or drink a little to prove that it is what you claim it is.
FEEDING ON THE GO
If you are out for the day/night, take a vacuum flask containing just-boiled water. This will keep the water hot for about four hours. Take some small sterilised containers, each holding the required amount of formula powder to make each feed. You can then make a feed easily, by adding the water and powder to a sterilised bottle. Or using the water to heat up bottles containing sterilised water.
TOP TIPS FOR STERILISING
1. KEEP YOUR TABLETS IN A SEALED BAG. This keeps them dry and all together one place. The cleaners won’t throw them away as they won’t look like trash. And they are baby proof and can’t be eaten if your little one gets their curious hands on them.
2. TAKE YOUR BOTTLED BRUSH FROM HOME WITH YOU. With so many different shapes and sizes of bottles, its fair easier to take your tried and tested brush with you. Again, keep it away from other products to avoid contamination and once used keep in a sealed bag. Change the bag regularly if putting the brush into the bag wet as the bag will become sweaty and smelly!
3. TAKE MORE TABLETS THAN YOU NEED. This is one product that won’t be readily available. Accidents happen, luggage gets lost, baby brain takes over. Spilt one bag into hand luggage and the other in your suitcase/backpack to avoid unnecessary stress.
4. CHECK THE RATIO TO WATER. On the back of the box read how much water is required per tablet. Different brands vary. Milton cold water tablets uses 1 tablet per 5L of water, alternative versions use 1 tablet per 3L of water. Know how much water your plastic container holds and therefore how many tablets you will need to use for each clean.
5. KEEP YOUR WORK AREA CLEAN. You can be staying in different accommodation every night, but you still want to ensure that you have a clean area to store and sterilise from. You can pick up a packet of antibacterial wipes from a supermarket (travel size) and simply wipe the surface you are going to use before prepping. Cheap and cheerful.