This article about How to Manage Baby Food On-the-Go was written by baby travel expert Celine Brewer and may contain affiliate links.
Your baby is ready to start eating solid foods and you have a trip planned. While preparing for your trip you might be wondering what the best way to manage baby food when traveling abroad is.
The easiest way to feed baby solids on your holiday is by following the principles of baby led weaning. Even if this isn’t the route your family has chosen for introducing solids to your baby, with the right equipment and a little preparation, feeding your baby solids on the go is still quite manageable while traveling.
What You’ll Find in This Article on Managing Baby Food While Traveling:
When to Introduce Solids to Your Baby
The most common age to introduce solids to a baby is around 6 months. Some babies might be ready or interested in food earlier or later than this, but this is a pretty typical age to start.
Breastfeeding or formula will still be the main source of food for your baby even once you start solids. It remains an important part of your baby’s diet right through to 12 months old (and further, if you choose to breastfeed for longer).
When traveling with a baby eating solids, you’ll want to ensure your baby is staying hydrated and continue to offer formula and breast milk on demand.
Also be prepared to see less as your baby is learning to eat solid foods. When you are feeding your baby solids on the go, you’ll be giving your baby food a couple times of day, so it will take up a larger portion of your sightseeing time.
How to Plan Travel Food for Babies
Planning baby food when traveling abroad will really depend on how you choose to introduce solids to your baby. For some, baby led weaning is the right choice and this means far less preparation. You can feed your baby finger foods right off your plate.
This works especially well for travel food for toddlers who are used to eating different foods.
For babies who are brand new to eating solids and just figuring out how to eat, it will take a little more preparation. When you start your baby on solids, you often will introduce one food at a time to rule out any allergies.
If you are still in this stage, you can plan to stick to those foods or cereals that your baby is already eating. You can easily prepare warm cereal using one of these baby travel food warmers.
If you aren’t doing baby led weaning, have a list of the foods your baby eats at home. For easy solid foods like bananas, avocados and bread, you can easily purchase those at your destination. For other traveling food for baby, like cereals or ready-made pouches, you can pack those in your luggage or your diaper bag backpack.
While you might want to prepare all homemade baby food for your baby, keep in mind that ready-made food is easier to travel with than homemade food and it will last longer.
If your baby isn’t quite into eating finger foods, you can keep making baby food while traveling by traveling with a hand crank food mill to grind up food for your baby.
This baby food timeline is a great reference of what your baby can eat at different ages.
6 Baby Travel Food Ideas
In our experience, our babies ate less solids when we were traveling. Perhaps due to the unfamiliar environment, the change in routine or less familiar foods. We still offered solid foods at each meal, but let our baby choose how much to eat.
You might also find that your baby is drinking breast milk more or drinking more formula. This is a great way to ensure your baby stays hydrated while traveling.
As for creating travel baby food, here are some of our favorite foods to feed baby while traveling:
- Without question, some of our favorite baby travel food are easy to mash foods that don’t require cooking like bananas, mangoes, avocado, berries.
- Renting an Airbnb with a baby is a great way to get access to a kitchen. If you have access to a kitchen, you can cook soft vegetables (peas, carrots, sweet potatoes).
- Depending on your access to other foods, other great options for cooking baby food while traveling are scrambled eggs, tiny bits of chicken, shredded cheese, cooked pasta, toast strips.
- For traveling with a baby that is very new to eating solids, you can bring single-grain cereals usually fortified with iron and mix it with formula, breast milk or water. We find mashing up a banana in these cereals is a fun and yummy baby food while traveling.
- If your baby is eating dairy, Greek yogurt is also another easy, nutritious and filling option for baby food while traveling.
- You’ll also want to have a plan for picky toddlers. We love these toddler breakfast ideas; the ‘no recipe’ ideas are perfect for traveling with a picky toddler.
In addition to having ideas for good baby food while traveling, do some research into your destination to determine if baby food is easily accessible. By way of example, this post on finding baby food in Japan discusses where to find baby food in a foreign country. If there’s any doubt, you can pack ready-made pouches as a back-up option to feed your baby while traveling.
For shorter trips or road trips with a baby, you can travel with homemade baby food by packing a cooler with frozen purees to feed your baby on your trip.
13 Tips for Feeding Baby Solids While Traveling
Travel with baby food and the preparation of travel food for babies can feel overwhelming. It might not seem like it’s worth traveling with a baby at this stage of your baby’s development.
However, if you go into with the right expectations and a little preparation, we are certain you will find traveling with a baby eating solids to be just as enjoyable as any other time.
Here are our best tips for feeding your baby solids on vacation:
1. Bring a Travel High Chair
Be prepared with one of these best portable travel high chairs. Even if you are traveling in a country where high chairs are readily available, a travel high chair will be a life saver for feeding your baby in the hotel room or Airbnb apartment.
2. Prepare for the Mess
You’ll be astounded at how messy babies can be when eating solid foods. Most of the food will have one destination and that will be the floor. In a hotel room, you can put towels or a sheet around where your baby is eating.
We traveled with a plastic table cloth many times and enjoyed how quick and easy clean ups were. It was also useful travel gear for feeding our baby or toddler in a park while out.
When you eat at restaurants with a baby, don’t forget to tip your server a little extra for the inevitable mess you are going to leave behind.
3. Bring Baby Food Equipment
Bring any baby food preparation equipment that will make preparing baby food while traveling easier. Or for older babies, get them used to eating finger foods that you can serve off your plate. We also packed a reusable placemat that allowed us to put the finger foods down directly in front of our baby or toddler.
4. Bring Baby Food Containers for Travel
Bring along snack cups for travel or freezer bags so you aren’t constantly trying to find new food to feed your baby.
5. Know Baby Foods That Work
Prepare a list of baby travel foods that you know your baby will love and eat while you travel.
6. Manage Without a Kitchen
If you don’t have access to a kitchen, going to a buffet restaurant or deli-style counters are a great way to get some steamed vegetables that you can mash for your baby. Another idea to easily get healthy vegetables for your aby while traveling is to order steamed vegetables as a side dish in a restaurant, then mash them up and feed to your baby.
7. Start New Baby Foods at Home
To expand the list of baby foods you can use while traveling, it’s best to try new baby foods at home. Be sure to space the new foods a few days apart so you can rule out any allergies.
8. Bring Baby Food to the Restaurant
If you are unsure of what food your baby will eat at the restaurant, don’t be afraid to bring your own baby food to restaurants.
9. Keep Your Baby Hydrated
Most importantly, while traveling keep your baby hydrated by offering breast milk or formula. Even if your baby is eating less solid food than at home, you’ll know your baby is still getting the important nutrients they need.
10. Follow Baby Food Safety
Make sure you have access to a fridge for any leftover baby food. Feed your baby out of a separate container to avoid any germs contaminating your leftovers. Bring a small cooler if you plan to bring food out with you for the day.
11. Feed Solids on the Go with a Stroller
Once your baby or toddler has been eating solids for some time, you can save some time baby feeding solids on the go if you travel with a stroller. We would feed very small pieces of fruit using the stroller snack tray while we walked. Don’t worry, if your stroller doesn’t have a snack tray, you can find these stroller accessories to add to your stroller.
Take extra precautions to watch your toddler to make sure she isn’t putting too much in her mouth and avoid any foods that may be at risk of choking. Baby food pouches are a great option in this instance.
12. Keep it Simple Feeding Baby on Flights
For flying with baby food, we recommend keeping it simple. Pack some premade baby food for on the plane and don’t forget some snacks for your baby or toddler.
You’ll also want to breastfeed or have bottles ready to help with your baby’s ears when flying with a baby.
See also: Breastfeeding on a Plane
13. Buy Fresh Produce Upon Arrival
Countries typically have pretty strict rules about bringing food (especially produce) across international borders. You’ll have the easiest time by traveling with prepackaged food and make sure to declare it. If you are worried, then make sure to finish all your baby food on the plane.
What to Pack for Travel with a Baby Eating Solids
Wondering what to pack for preparing baby travel food? Here are our recommended products for feeding your baby solids on vacation. We’ve included travel baby food containers, baby food preparation equipment and even some ready made food and snacks to pack.
Frequently Asked Questions about Travel Food for Babies
How to prepare baby food while traveling?
If you have access to a kitchen, you can cook fresh steamed vegetables or fruits to mash up for your baby. Without a kitchen, cereals or foods that don’t require cooking will be easier to prepare for your baby.
How do you travel with baby puree?
The easiest way to travel with baby puree is by using ready-made puree in jars or pouches. Alternatively, you can travel with your own homemade baby puree. Keep your homemade baby food cool by bringing it in a cooler with a gel or ice packs.
What can I feed my 1 year old when traveling?
Finger foods are the easiest to feed a 1 year old when traveling. Get your toddler used to eating finger foods off your plate. We like using a reusable place mat to offer food to our toddler when traveling.
Can you take puree baby food on a plane?
Yes, you can bring baby food on a plane, including puree baby food. Whether it’s ready-made pouches or homemade food, just be prepared to present it to the security officer when going through airport security with your baby.
How much baby food can I carry on a plane?
If you are flying with a baby or toddler who is under two years of age, you can bring baby food, formula, milk, water and juice in reasonable quantities that you would need during the flight. Unfortunately, the “reasonable quantities” isn’t further defined, but it is exempt from the 3.4 oz or 100 milliliter restriction.
Additionally, you may bring gel or ice packs to keep your baby food cool on your flight.
Can you take water on a plane for baby?
You can take water on a plane for baby, in reasonable amounts that you would need during your flights with your baby. Make sure you present it to the screening officer at inspection.
Can you pack baby food in checked luggage?
Yes, you can pack baby food in your checked luggage. Prepackaged baby food is the easiest to travel with, just make sure it’s well protected in your luggage and you declare it as required at customs.
Can you take baby snacks through airport security?
Yes, you can take food for your baby through airport security. All baby food, drinks, water, milk and formula need to be presented to the security officer.
Here’s more info on taking solid baby food through airport security in Canada.
What’s the best way to handle baby food and airport security?
When going through TSA with baby food, always present all liquids and baby food to the screening officer. The TSA will want to inspect baby food pouches and any other food or liquids you are bringing on the plane for your baby.
Here’s more information on the TSA & Baby food.
Can you take baby food on international flights?
You can take baby food on international flights. For any fresh produce or other foods that you shouldn’t be crossing international borders with, make sure to finish it before you get off the plane.
Can you take baby food through customs?
You should declare ALL food that you are bringing through customs, as required by the country that you are entering. This includes any homemade or ready-made baby travel food in your carry-on or checked luggage.
Worried about what you might feed your baby while away from home? This post from Top Reveal has an excellent list of 21 Best Easy as 1-2-3 DIY Baby Food Recipes. I especially like the Avocado and Banana Mix since this can easily be done with just a fork!
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.