By Deenaz Raisinghani
One of the most asked questions on my social channels from mothers across this country has been about food. The concern about feeding children while travelling is a very real one. When I started travelling with my child (then an infant), I had the same worries and needed to know how best to manage her food so she did not suffer from lack of nutrition on our trips. In this article, I offer some handy tips for parents who have concerns around travel and food for their children:
Babies up to the age of two are dependent on milk for their primary nutritional needs. This can be from sources such as mother’s milk, formula, cow’s milk or other packaged and treated varieties. Milk can be transported in several ways while travelling depending on the type of milk, mode of transport and the duration of the journey. Although flights have a minimum amount regulation for liquids (100 ml) in carry-on baggage, this does not apply to liquids carried for babies during the journey. You can safely carry as much as you think your baby will need on the flight. Breastfeeding mothers can also carry mother’s milk on the flight even if the baby is not flying with you. You can also carry premeasured tubs of formula and boiled and cooled water as well as hot water separately in bottle warmers and mix on the flight just before feeding them. If you will be bottle feeding mother’s milk, you can carry frozen packs of milk in icepacks and thaw it under running water just before feeding. The cabin crew will be glad to assist you with all the help you need so do not hesitate to ask for it. For older kids, you can carry tetra pack milk varieties that can be consumed on the go. Travelling in trains and by road is more convenient in terms of movement and access to supplies. You should halt when you think it is time to feed the baby and burp them right after to avoid reflux. (However, do check individual airline regulations before you travel.)
One aspect of planning for travel with kids also includes hygiene and food safety. It is not very difficult to ensure it if you have the right tools at hand. Carrying a portable bottle steriliser along will ensure you don’t pass on any germs to babies while feeding them. I used to carry nipple and bottle sanitising liquid along as well as baby-friendly detergent to wash the products I was going to be using for feeding. When you are staying in a private room in a hotel or BnB, an easy way to wash all these attachments is to first clean the sink and tap with boiling water from a kettle, close the sink with the stopper, fill the sink with warm soapy water and dunk all the bottles, nipples, feeding cups and spoons into the water for a while. Carry bottle brushes along for rinsing and you will not have to worry about hygiene. For older kids, carrying disinfectant liquid, small hand wash and wipes, small tissue boxes, and aprons will make sure your kid eats and cleans properly. You can also choose to carry their own feeding set of bowls, cups, plates and spoons (choose a travel-sized one). By all means, use boiling hot water to sterilise everything before use.
The type and amount of food to carry will again depend on the kind of journey you will be taking. If it is a shorter journey, you can carry perishable items such as frozen fruit and vegetable purees packed in separate air tight containers (thaw just before use), dry breads such as rotis, pancakes, theplas or parathas that should be consumed within a couple of days. For longer journeys where you may not have access to a kitchen, there are a host of baby food recipes on websites such as mylittlemoppet.com where the author suggests tried and tested recipes to carry along while travelling for your baby. Suggestions are powdered instant rice dry cereal (puffed rice), powdered dal dry cereal, dry broken wheat cereal and many such recipes that you can roast and grind at home and carry along in tiny containers. They will stay for days and need to be mixed with warm water or milk to make ready food that is healthy and homemade for your kid.
I always tell mothers not to bother about carrying along a pressure cooker as it will only add to the luggage and you may not always have access to a kitchen on a proper trip especially overseas. For older kids, encourage them to try new tastes outside, make them go crazy with fresh fruits and vegetables from the local market and let them experience new cuisines too. You can carry along snacks such as dried nuts or roasted makhanas in zip lock pouches when you go sightseeing. Always try to make fresh juices for them out of squeezed limes or oranges from the market and honey and keep them away from aerated drinks, sodas and tetra pack juices.
I have come to realise how useful it is to have access to a kitchen. Opt for hotel rooms with small kitchenettes, BnB room with common kitchen or hostel rooms with communal kitchens. This will save you heaps of money as well as worry about feeding outside food to kids while travelling. Shop as you like and cook just the way your kids prefer and feed them a hearty meal a few times during the trip. These experiences will leave you with great memories to talk about with your children. Some of my best memories are of fixing a meal together while travelling and sitting in a beautiful location to enjoy it.
I hope I have been able to address common concerns about feeding infants and kids on the go. Please feel free to share among your friends and let us know if you enjoyed reading this article. Until next time it’s the Backpacking Mama signing off
(The writer blogs at Backpacking Mama.)