Friday, July 18, 2014

Traveling With a Baby: Preparation

In preparation for our first trip with our baby, (three-months-old at the time), I did a lot of research. I didn't want to get stuck having to dump out pumped milk or having to pay extra to check a stroller cause we didn't do the process right, or have a flight attendant fuss at me to cover up while breastfeeding. I especially wanted to check all the policies and rules because we would be flying on four different planes over a two-week period and visiting four different states. I just like to be prepared!

So I hoped to save someone else a little trouble and compile everything I found here. This is the first part on a series of traveling with a baby and it's solely on preparing for your trip.

Breastfeeding in Different States
Forty-five states have laws that allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location and twenty-eight states exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. Unfortunately, not all of those forty-five states have enforcement provisions, which means if someone harasses you for breastfeeding in public, there's nothing you can do about it.

I won't list all 50 states and their specific laws and regulations... but here's a few highlights. Idaho and South Dakota are the only two states with no type of public breastfeeding law at all. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Connecticut, Louisiana, and DC are among the states that have enforcement provisions.

If you'd like to know more on each state's specific laws, you can check the National Council of State Legislatures page on Breastfeeding Laws.

Breastfeeding on Planes
There have been a lot of stories in the news about women breastfeeding on planes - usually because they were told to cover up (and in 2006, one woman was kicked off a plane because she refused to). Thankfully, policies have been changing lately because of all the media attention, but it's still smart to check your airline's policies so you are prepared.

Not all airlines even have a policy though - which means that it's up to the discretion of the flight attendant as to what to do in that situation.

Jet Blue is one of the best airlines as far as policies for breastfeeding women go:
“Nursing mothers wishing to breastfeed their infants have the right to do so in any public accommodation including the aircraft cabin. If we should encounter a situation onboard where another customer is uncomfortable with a nursing mother, the uncomfortable customer should be reseated, and we ask parents with any questions or concerns to ask one of our inflight crewmembers. The nursing mom may not be reseated unless she requests to do so.  Inflight crewmembers should not suggest to the nursing mother that she use a blanket to cover-up or lavatory for breastfeeding purposes.”

United Airlines, which is what we normally fly, has no in place policy on breastfeeding in-flight.

Baggage Policies 

Liquids: Are you taking pumped milk?
The TSA allows only 3.4 ounces of liquid in a carry-on bag, but if you have an infant or small child, you are permitted to bring pumped milk, liquid formula, jars of baby food, and even juice aboard. Normally, your liquids have to be placed in one clear quart-sized, but "medically necessary" liquids are exempt from this rule. The TSA just encourages travelers to bring only the amount of milk (or formula, juice, or baby food, etc) as is needed to reach their destination.

Just make sure that when you reach the security checkpoint you tell the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process that you have medically necessary liquids in excess of 3.4 ounces. If you do not wish these items to be X-rayed, let the officer know. But the FDA says that there are "no known adverse effects from eating food, drinking beverages and using medicine that has been screened by X-ray." These items may be subject to additional screening - and if you decline the X-Ray screening, you may be asked to open the items and/or transfer the contents to a separate container. Because of this, the TSA suggests bringing an extra empty container and avoid filling containers to the top.

Travelers are also allowed to bring ice packs needed to keep milk, formula, and juice cool; ice packs are not bound by the standard 3.4 ounce liquid rule either.  You are even allowed to bring liquid or gel-filled teethers in a carry-on.

I am bringing 10 ounces of pumped milk in my carry-on even though I plan to breastfeed on board the plane. Our boy's grandparents are going to be watching him for a few hours the day after we arrive, and I will not have time to pump before then. So, I'm not exactly following the TSA's suggestion on only bringing liquids needed to reach the destination... since I don't really need the liquids to reach the destination. But I do need them fairly soon after we arrive.

To read the TSA's page on flying with milk or formula, click here.

Diaper bags, strollers, and car seats
Most airlines allow you to carry-on only a small number of items. Thankfully, many of them recognize that babies and children come with a lot of stuff and allow items like diaper bags and strollers in addition to your already allotted carry-on baggage.

In addition, you are often allowed to gate check a stroller and/or car seat so that you can push your little one around through the airport before boarding. United's policy was unclear as to whether I could gate check both the stroller and car seat - and since baby G was only 3 months old, he was too little for the stroller without the car seat attached. So... I tweeted United the day before our departure to find out!


I'll get to what to pack in another post... that will be quite a detailed one!

Is there anything I missed, or any important things you should be aware of when flying with an infant? Comment below!
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