Feeding your baby away from home: Products that help

Feeding your baby away from home: Products that help

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If you're like most new parents, feeding your baby on the go makes you a little nervous. It's not always easy to breastfeed comfortably or to calmly prepare a bottle of formula when your baby is screaming in a public place. And when solid foods are part of your baby's daily diet, what's the best way to manage containers, spoons, and bibs? Here's a guide to help you plan for meals on the go from day one through the first year, plus practical products to make it easier.

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  • On-the-go feeding basics

    What you need and why

    Babies eat around the clock, so you'll need to be ready to feed your little one any place, anytime. The easiest way to do this is by breastfeeding – you'll have fresh, warm milk at the ready. No special equipment is required (although it's nice to have nursing bras, pads, and perhaps a nursing cover if your child is easily distracted or you prefer to cover up).

    Bottle feeding away from home is easy, too, once you get the hang of it. You can bring pre-made bottles of formula or breast milk with you in insulated cooler bags. Or, you can bring formula powder and mix it with bottled water when your baby is hungry, or use bottles of ready-to-feed formula.

    If your baby doesn't like cold bottles, you can warm a bottle in your hands for a few minutes or pop it in a portable bottle warmer when it's time to eat. Or, take a thermos of warm water with you to make bottles. When your baby is hungry, pour the warm water into a bottle, add the right amount of powdered formula, and mix it up.

    At around 6 months old, your baby will probably start eating solid food. Get ready to add soft spoons, bibs, baby-food pouches, and more to your diaper bag as you enjoy this new experience together. After that, your baby will move on to finger foods and sippy cups. And eventually, you won't have to bring any special equipment for a day out and about!

    Until then, here's a guide to feeding your baby on the go.

  • Auden Seamless Nursing Bra

    Unhooks with one hand

    You might be surprised by how much fumbling it can take to get your nursing bra unhooked and your baby latched on when you're not sitting in your favorite nursing spot at home. A bra with cups that you can maneuver with one hand – like this one – will help you avoid awkward moments.

    Auden's seamless nursing bra is stretchy and comfortable, with no wires to poke or confine you. It comes in black, white, gray, and pink, in sizes XS to XL (fits women from 34A to 40D). And it's very reasonably priced.

    Available at Target starting at $16.99

  • Latched Mama 3/4 Sleeve Everyday Tee

    Stylish and discreet for nursing

    Like maternity wear, nursing wear can be stylish. You'll find tops, dresses, and sweaters that look like regular clothes but have discreet openings near your breasts so your baby can have lunch while you stay covered up. Alternatively, your regular clothes may be comfortable for nursing, especially tops that button down, wrap dresses or shirts, and outfits with wide or low necklines that allow you to comfortably pop out a breast. Experiment and see what works for you.

    We love this top because it looks put together but is super convenient for nursing. There's a layer of fabric that lifts up to allow your baby access while the rest of you is still covered. Moms say these are so comfortable that they wear them long after nursing. The shirt comes in sizes XS to 3X to fit women with chests from 33 to 54 inches.

    Available at Latched Mama starting at $29.99

  • BeliBea Nourish Nursing and Hands-free Pumping Bra

    Versatile nursing and pumping bra

    If you breastfeed and pump, here's a bra that accommodates both. BeliBea's Nourish bra is easy, functional, and versatile. Each cup has two panels held up with snaps – unhook the top panel and pull it down for supported pumping, or unhook both panels to give your baby full access to your breast. Everything is easy to unsnap with one hand while holding your squirmy baby. If you prefer more coverage, you may like the Nourish Cami, with the same functionality and the coverage of a tank top. Both come in black and beige and in sizes S to XL to fit women from 32B to 44DD.

    Available at Amazon starting at $39.95

  • Boppy Infinity Scarf and Nursing Cover

    Innovative cover does double duty

    You don't have to use a nursing cover – some moms don't like them, and some babies refuse to be covered up. But when you're out and about, nursing covers can provide privacy and minimize distractions that might interrupt your baby's meal.

    There are two main types: dedicated nursing covers that fasten around your neck, and multiuse covers that do extra duty as car-seat sun shields, shopping-cart covers, and infinity scarves. Each have their pros and cons, so pick the one that appeals to you.

    We chose the Boppy Infinity Scarf and Nursing Cover because it's an innovative blend of both types of covers. You can wear it as an infinity scarf when you're on the go, but when it's time to nurse, this cover has helpful features like an adjustable neck strap to keep it in place even when your baby is wiggling. As a bonus, we love the mesh "peek panel" that makes it easy for you to see your baby while nursing.

    Available at Amazon starting at $24.99

  • Momcozy 9V Breast-Pump Power Adapter

    Easy pumping in the car

    If you're away from home for a day trip or a road trip and you need to pump, this adapter allows you to plug your electric pump into the car. We chose the Momcozy adapter because it's compatible with the most popular brand of pumps (Medela). The cord is a lengthy 8 feet, so you can pump in the back of the car when you're plugged into the front. The adapter has a USB port as well, so you can charge a phone or tablet while you're pumping. Momcozy also makes a car adapter for Spectra pumps, if that's your brand.

    Available at Amazon starting at $7.99

  • Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump and Accessory Wipes

    Keep pumps clean on the go

    Keeping pumping supplies clean when you're not at home isn't easy. Thank goodness for these quick-clean wipes, which sanitize your pump parts after you use them. Medela's highly rated wipes are dependable, and large enough to clean a lot. They're easy to store in the car or in your diaper bag – moms say they're great for traveling or pumping at work in rooms that don't have a sink with soap and water.

    Available at Target starting at $7.19

  • Idaho Jones Lysia Breast-Milk Cooler Bag

    A handy little bottle bag

    If you're pumping in a place without a fridge, it's important to have another way to keep your milk fresh until your baby needs it. An insulated cooler bag will help store your milk safely.

    We love this little cooler bag because it has pockets inside that keep bottles upright, and it fits just about any kind of bottle. The bag also includes sleeves for ice packs and a handle to attach it easily to your stroller or a larger bag.

    Available at Idaho Jones starting at $23.95

  • Similac Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron Newborn Bottles

    Quick bottles away from home

    Ready-to-feed formula, packaged in the bottle, is the easiest way to bottle-feed your baby when you're on the go – but also the most expensive. They cost considerably more than powdered or concentrated liquid formula, so many parents save these instant meals for emergencies.

    We chose Similac Pro-Advance Ready-to-Feed because it's one of the less expensive brands. It's very convenient: Just add a nipple and a ring to the bottles, and you can feed right away. This is the brand often used in hospitals and NICUs, so many families keep using it when they come home.

    Available at Target starting at $12.99 for a 12-pack

  • Similac Pro-Advance 16-Count Infant Formula Powder Stick Packs

    Individual packets of powdered formula

    While they're a bit more expensive than bulk-size cans of powder or liquid concentrate, these premeasured packets are very handy, especially if you're traveling and don't want to lug a can of formula in your diaper bag.

    We like Similac's Pro-Advance packets because they're highly rated by parents and make a convenient backup. Just add one packet to 4 ounces of water in a clean bottle.

    Available at buybuy BABY starting at $14.99 for a 16-pack

  • Munchkin Formula Dispenser Combo Pack

    For making multiple bottles

    With a divided plastic container, you can carry premeasured amounts of formula as opposed to the whole can. When you're ready to make a bottle, just pour the powder into a bottle that you've filled with the correct amount of water, mix, and serve. We love this Munchkin dispenser combo because it's inexpensive and includes two containers (a small size for quick jaunts out and a larger size that holds a day's worth of formula). The containers are easy to clean and durable.

    Available at Amazon starting at $11.50 for 2 sets

  • Baby's Brew Portable Bottle Warmer Pro Set

    The cutest bottle warmer around

    The Baby's Brew is pricey, but it's perfect for those who are serious about perfectly warmed bottles on the go. It has adjustable temperature options, heats bottles quickly and evenly, and keeps them warm for eight to 12 hours. It's cordless and battery powered, so you can use it anywhere. It also comes with a formula dispenser that can take the mess out of making a bottle. Just plan ahead, because the Baby's Brew uses a slow-heat warming method and takes five to 10 minutes to ready your baby's bottle.

    Available at Baby's Brew starting at $85

  • Icewraps Perineal Cold Pack

    Multipurpose gel packs

    These flexible, hot-or-cold gel packs can soothe injuries or keep bottles warm or cold. We like them because you can use them for post-birth pain relief for yourself, then reuse them for your baby's on-the-go feeding needs. These gel packs are big enough so you can wrap a frozen one around a bottle in an insulated bag and keep things cold for hours. Or, if you'll be feeding your baby sooner, wrap a hot one around a bottle to warm it up.

    Available at Amazon starting at $15.99 for two

  • Cloud Island Silicone Bibs with Decal

    Sweet little wipe-clean bibs

    Cloth bibs can get messy and gross to carry around in your diaper bag. So get a bib – like these Cloud Island ones – that you can wipe clean. These have a pocket that catches food and minimizes messes, and the neck is easily adjustable to fit your baby. They're cute and sturdy, but not so stiff that they're uncomfortable.

    Available at Target starting at $9.99

  • OXO Tot Food Masher

    Making meals easy-peasy

    Tired of cutting up your baby's food into bite-size pieces? This food masher does the job quickly for you, and is small enough to fit in your diaper bag. Just drop fruits, vegetables, or cooked meat or poultry into the masher, press a few times, and your baby's meal is soft and ready to serve. OXO's food masher is cute and compact, and it's perfect for babies past the purée stage but not quite ready for finger foods.

    Available at Amazon starting at $9.99

  • Ryan & Rose Baby Spoon and Fork

    Baby-friendly utensils

    Made of food-grade silicone, these utensils are soft and easy for babies to grip. They have a clever design – one side is a spoon, the other is a fork – so you only have to carry one with you. This set comes in a two-pack, so keep one at home and one in your to-go bag.

    Available at Amazon starting at $13.99 for a 2-pack

  • Chicco Caddy Hook-on Highchair

    Super-portable highchair for all occasions

    Helpful whether you're dining in a restaurant or at a friend's house, these seats attach to virtually any table, or even a picnic bench. They're small enough to go in a stroller basket or take up only a tiny corner of trunk space, so many parents routinely bring them along on outings that might involve eating. The Chicco Caddy is a popular option at an affordable price and it's secure, easy to clean, and folds compactly.

    Available at Target starting at $49.99

  • Munchkin Snack Catcher

    Great for snacking on the go

    Before you leave the house, it's a good idea to fill a couple of these with snacks appropriate for your child's age: cereal, teething biscuits, mandarin orange sections, peeled and sliced grapes, or other favorites. We like the Munchkin Snack Catcher because it has two handles for babies to grab. The soft silicone flaps make it easy for your baby to reach in and get food, but prevent snacks from falling out and all over your bag.

    Available at Amazon starting at $9.49 for two

  • Momcozy Multi-Function Cooler Bag

    An all-purpose insulated bag

    This compact, insulated cooler bag does it all. It looks cute, keeps bottles and snacks cool, and has a pocket and additional layer so it can hold your other essentials as well.

    Available at Amazon starting at $20.99

  • Baby Brezza Reusable Baby-Food Storage Pouches

    Make your own baby food pouches

    Pouches make serving purées to babies a snap. If it appeals to you, save money and reduce landfill waste by filling your own pouches with homemade baby food. (This is more work, but gives you more control over what you're feeding your baby.) What we love most about Baby Brezza pouches is that the opening is on the side instead of the bottom, making these easier to fill without spills and easier to clean.

    Available at Amazon starting at $9.99 for a 10-pack

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