Last week we packed up yet again and got ready to make our trip out west to visit our relatives. We don't have any family in Winnipeg, but we believe it is very important for our child to have a strong relationship with his grandparents. So, as much as I hate it, we fly frequently.
We took along several bottles of donated breast milk in a cooler, as well as an ice pack. At security, they asked to open up our cooler as usual. All seemed normal. And then came the question, "But how old is your baby?"
"He's thirteen months."
"Oh, ok. This is fine. Go ahead."
The exchange seemed simple enough, but suddenly left me wondering, is there an age at which I won't be able to bring milk along for my baby? Is thirteen months ok, but say, eighteen months too old? Why did they ask my baby's age?
We rely upon donated breast milk to feed our baby. I nurse him using an at-breast supplementation system, and am able to enjoy a satisfying breastfeeding relationship as a result. I would like to keep breastfeeding my child as long as he needs it. Since the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years AND BEYOND, I am and will continue to be grateful for human milk donations. If and when we are no longer able to find donated human milk, we will probably move to using whole goat's milk in the supplementation system. Goat's milk is closer to human milk than cow's milk is, but it is probably not commonly available beyond airport security.
During our stay in Vancouver, I looked up the rules. In Canada, you may only bring extra liquid aboard a flight for a child UNDER the age of 2. So, I decided to start a petition on change.org. Please sign it and share widely!
"Canadian parents using expressed breast milk currently face greater restrictions when flying with their children than do their American counterparts. Only passengers traveling with infants UNDER the age of 24 months may bring aboard more than 100ml of liquid per container, inside a 1 litre plastic bag. Women traveling without their babies are not permitted to bring their expressed milk on board. Those traveling with children above age two are not exempt from restrictions on liquids.
"The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until age 2 AND BEYOND. For those parents who must express their milk and bottlefeed, or who use donated milk and an at-breast supplemental nursing system, carrying liquid on their persons is a must. Why should the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority decide at what age a child no longer needs breast milk, especially during potentially stressful travel?
"Passengers traveling without their babies should also be allowed to carry their precious breast milk rather than pump and dump. Breast milk, known in the birth world as "liquid gold" for its important health benefits, should be exempt from the usual restrictions on liquids.
"In the US, breast milk is treated as liquid medication and passengers may carry it on board in quantities greater than 3 ounces WITH OR WITHOUT A BABY OR TODDLER PRESENT. Sign this petition and tell the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to start valuing breast milk as vitally important nutrition for babies and children!"