Feeding your baby on the move

A little planning and preparation can help you to feel more confident.

The thought of breastfeeding your baby when out and about might be daunting at first, but that’s true of lots of things about being a new parent. A little planning and preparation can help you to feel more confident. Remember that most people never even notice a mum is breastfeeding, and everyone prefers a happy, quiet baby feeding than a hungry, crying one. Although we all understand that babies cry sometimes too.

If you are bottle feeding your baby, then the most important thing to think about is how you will make up milk safely outside the home. Advice on safe bottle feeding can be found in the ‘Guide to bottle feeding’ by Start4life.

If you are breastfeeding:

    • Your baby has the right to eat when you are outside the home by law. Everywhere you and your baby can be, you can feed. Almost everyone who breastfeeds their baby never receives anything but warm smiles and the occasional free drink. Media reports that mums are sometimes made to feel uncomfortable make the news precisely because they are rare. We know from surveys that our society supports mums feeding outside the home. Every day, there are babies and mums nursing in cafes, shops, parks, on buses and trains happily and peacefully.
    • When and where to feed is a decision for you and your baby. You don’t have to ask for permission. You don’t even have to look around. And with practice, feeding outside the home gets easier every time. You might be in an environment where you’d like to find a quieter space. Many facilities can offer you that, but it’s fine to feed as part of your normal day wherever you need to be. When you breastfeed out and about, you’re helping to make it ‘the norm’ in society.
    • If you feel unsure, you can start by practising at home. Have a go in front of a mirror or ask someone to take a video. How much can someone opposite see? You might be surprised how you look like someone just holding a baby. Most people, even quite close by, wouldn’t know you were feeding a baby. In time, most mums become confident about feeding in public and don’t even have to pause to think about what they’re doing, as you’ll see in these lovely photos of mums feeding all over the UK from our #FeedOn Campaign.
    • The first time you feed outside the home, it can be helpful to have your partner or a friend with you. They might help you get organised or get you something to eat and drink, but often it’s just nice to know someone else is there. You might want to practise feeding away from home by visiting a breastfeeding group, and exploring different positions that you can use in different chairs. You might like to go to a familiar place like a local café. The positions you use may not be exactly the same as at home, but that’s OK. You might support your arm and your baby’s head with a rolled-up jacket or a blanket. Or you might lean back so your baby’s weight is supported by your body. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same as if you were on the sofa at home. It can be a good idea to practise using a position where you have a hand free so you can eat and drink too.
    • Layering your clothing might be helpful. Two light, loose tops with trousers or skirt is often easier for feeding than a one-piece top or dress. Some clothes are specially designed for breastfeeding with zips, slits or pieces that lift up. Not everyone finds them helpful, so experiment at home. You could pop your baby under a loose-fitting top, but you might also have a front-opening top or jacket around the side of your body.
    • • You do not need to ‘cover up’ unless you want to. Some mums carry a scarf so that if they feel a little unsure of themselves when feeding, the scarf can be draped over their shoulder and across their baby. This will look more like normal clothing than using a muslin cloth (which may not be very big) or a baby blanket that can make baby uncomfortably warm. Some mums also feed their baby when they are in a sling. Clips or clothes pegs can be useful to secure clothing out of the way so it doesn’t fall into baby’s face and to keep scarves on shoulders.

Breastfeeding helps your baby to feel safe and secure and when they are feeling tired and overwhelmed, it is valued even more. Getting the hang of nursing in public can be really useful for a mum, since if your baby is happily feeding away, you can focus on your own tea, cake and conversation. When you feed your baby outside the home, you are helping the next person to do the same thing. Let’s make this country a great place for mums and babies to feel welcome, however they feed their little ones.

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