Planning to get away this summer? Whether it’s a staycation in the UK or you’re venturing further afield, keeping your hungry baby happy on your travels needn’t be an ordeal.
Find out what to prepare ahead before you go and how to make the most of your meals once you’ve arrived.
See the best baby food brands as rated by parents.
1. What baby food essentials do I need to pack?
A cool bag and cooling gel packs are useful for keeping food fresh when you’re travelling.
Dry food, such as baby porridge oats, oatcakes and a favourite brand of baby cereal, could be lifesavers if you aren’t able to get to a shop right away, as well as wet shop-bought baby food in jars or pouches.
Although baby food pouches are designed to withstand a bit of rough handling or being under pressure on a plane, transport them in a secure zip-lock storage bag so they won’t go everywhere in the event of a leak.
Have plenty of snacks for hungry little ones and keep them to hand. Especially if you’re on a plane and they’re struggling with their ears popping during take-off and landing.
If you’re staying in the UK, you can book an online supermarket shop to deliver baby essentials to your destination soon after your arrival or even the next day.
2. Keeping your baby hydrated
During sunny weather either abroad or at home, it’s important to keep your baby well hydrated. Here’s what the NHS suggests:
- Fully breastfed babies: Don’t need any water until they’ve started eating solids.
- Formula-fed babies: may need extra water in hot weather.
- Babies under six months old shouldn’t be given mains tap water as it’s not sterile, but if they’re over six months it’s fine.
- Bottled water isn’t recommended for making up infant formula as it might contain too much salt (sodium) or sulphate.
- If you do use bottled water, the sodium (also written as Na) level should be less than 200mg per litre and the sulphate (also written as SO or SO4) should be no higher than 250mg per litre.
- Bottled water isn’t sterile, so boil before it’s used to prepare a feed.
3. Understand baby food flying rules
Planning to jet away? The Home Office says you’re allowed to take enough baby food, baby milk and sterilised water for the duration of your journey.
The table below shows the current hand luggage restrictions at UK airports.
However, different airlines have different rules about what foods and liquids you can take on board with you, so we’d advise contacting them beforehand to check.
|Item||Allowed in hand luggage?||Allowed in hold luggage?|
|Breast milk||Yes, in individual containers up to 2,000ml||Yes|
|Frozen breast milk||No||Yes|
|Formula or cow’s milk||Yes, but baby must be present||Yes|
|Sterilised water for your baby||Yes, but baby must be present||Yes|
|Soya milk for babies||Yes, but baby must be present||Yes|
|Baby food||Yes, but baby must be present||Yes|
|Cooling gel packs||Yes||Yes|
4. Quiz your hosts about local dining
If you’re going self-catering, get in touch to ask what equipment your hosts have to limit what you need to take yourself.
Your hosts may be only too willing to lend you essentials such as high chairs and blenders to make your stay stress-free, plus you’ll know to go back there again because they’re fully tooled up.
They should also be able to give you tips on baby-friendly places to dine out locally.
Worried there won’t be a high chair when you take your baby out to eat? Take a look at our first look reviews of the Baby Polar Gear On The Go, The Gro Company Chair Harness and the Totseat – three handy folding travel high chairs ideal for restaurants.
5. Introducing your baby to international cuisine
You may be lucky enough to have an adventurous baby when it comes to trying new dishes – or perhaps yours is a little more reticent.
If you’re going somewhere with a different cuisine, introduce your little one to some of these new food types before you go so they’re used to the now texture, taste and look.
Remember that it can take 10 tries or more before your baby will accept a new food or texture so, don’t give up.
6. Take a stroller or pushchair with you
As well as being easy to transport by car, train or plane, a good lightweight pushchair or stroller can also double up as a seat for them while they eat.
Whether you’re in a restaurant that doesn’t have a high chair or you’re on a beach and want to avoid your baby eating fistfuls of sand along with their food, you’ll have somewhere where they can sit safely upright in the correct position to eat.
For every meal, your baby should be sat upright, so put a cushion or rolled-up towel behind them if they’re tilted backwards to reduce the risk of choking.
7. Learn key food phrases in the local language
‘Does this contain egg?’ or ‘could you make this without salt, please?’
A few sentences in the local language could really help you navigate feeding your baby when abroad, so it’s worth familiarising yourself with some key phrases and words, even if you’re not a natural linguist.
This is particularly important if your baby has allergies, for example a lactose intolerance or special dietary requirements.
Allergy UK has a set of three credit card-sized plastic cards available in 35 languages, each containing translations for more than 70 different allergens, as well as a message for use in restaurants to ensure that your food order is free from a particular allergen.
8. Make the most of buffet dining
Buffet breakfasts in hotels or holiday destinations are a godsend when it comes to stocking up on baby-friendly food for the day, whether it’s a yogurt, a couple of bread rolls or fresh fruit.
That way, wherever you are during the day, if you don’t manage to find a food stop that suits your baby’s requirements, you’ll still have plenty of nutritious choices stashed in your cool bag to fall back on.