Water in foreign climes – what do you need to bear in mind when travelling with babies?
Contemplating feeding your baby or using drinking water abroad can seem daunting but in reality can be managed quite easily, with just a little planning.
Breast feeding naturally keeps things simple when you’re travelling, but if your baby has already moved on to formula milk here are a few useful pointers when preparing their feeds.
Tap water or bottled water?
Bottled water is generally not recommended for making up feeds. Firstly it is not sterile, and secondly it may contain too much salt (sodium/ Na) or sulphate (SO or SO4). If you have to use bottled water then make sure you check the label – sodium levels should be less than 200mg per litre, and sulphates less than 250mg per litre. There are some baby friendly brands available, such as Evian – check the label for the ‘baby friendly’ symbol.
Remember, you still need to boil bottled water before using to prepare feeds and don’t re-boil previously boiled bottled water, as this can concentrate the salt and sulphate levels.
If you know that the tap water is safe to drink, then boil and prepare your feeds as you do at home.
Spain – tap water is safe to drink in most areas, changes in the mineral content can sometimes cause mild tummy upsets. Close to the coast you may find it has a very high level of calcium, so check before you travel; if you need to opt for the bottled water route, low sodium brands include Beyoz and Font Vella or look for other labels which specify that they are suitable for babies.
France, Italy and Germany – tap water is generally safe to drink.
Take a look at the NHS website for more advice about using bottled water for babies.
Having access to a microwave will always help; if you’re travelling to a Tots villa this will be included in our essential kit guarantee along with a steriliser, but if you’re stopping off en route check first and take some Microwave steriliser bags with you, Lindam make some very handy ones, which hold two bottles (and all the bits) and can be used up to 20 times.
If you don’t have access to a microwave it’s back to good old boiling or cold-water sterilising options. Wash everything well first in warm soapy water, then if you’re boiling, check that your bottles and teats are appropriate, submerse all the equipment in a large pan of boiling water and boil for at least 10 minutes. For cold-water sterilising dissolve sterilising solution or tablets (such as Milton) in cold water and leave submerged for 30 minutes, then rinse with boiled water – always check the manufacturer’s guidelines.
For older babies, if you don’t usually sterilise at home, you should be fine to wash your little ones beakers etc. as you do normally – but a rinse in boiling water will never hurt.
For continuity it’s worth taking your own supply of your baby’s preferred brand of formula milk with you – some of the popular brands may be available locally but sometimes marketed under a different name. For example:
- Spain: Aptamil is known as Milupa Aptimil, Cow and Gate as Almiron – SMA is not generally available.
- France: Aptamil is known as Milupa but Cow and Gate and SMA are not generally available
- Italy: Aptamil is known by the same name, Cow and Gate as Mellin (but can be pricey) – SMA is not generally available.
- Germany: Aptamil is known by the same name, Cow and Gate and SMA are not generally available.
You will be able to buy formula milk in most supermarkets or at a local pharmacy; if you get caught short, out of normal opening hours, try the pharmacy first as there will usually be a 24 hour opening rota available.