Feeding Your Baby in Emergencies
Breastfed babies are ready for anything! If you need help finding a health care provider or breastfeeding support during an emergency, call 1-800-251-BABY (2229).
- The cleanest, safest food you can give your child during an emergency is your breast milk.
- Human milk has antibodies to help protect a baby from diarrhea and other diseases.
- As long as you keep nursing, stress will not make your milk go away.
- As long as your baby is getting enough of your milk, your baby is getting enough water.
- You can still breastfeed, even if you are hungry.
- Continue to breastfeed your baby, even if he is sick or injured.
- When a mother breastfeeds, she releases hormones that help her and her baby relax and stay calm.
- Many mothers can begin producing milk again, even if they have already discontinued breastfeeding.
- Formula may not be available or may become contaminated. Water that is mixed with powdered or concentrated formula may be also contaminated.
- During an emergency or disaster, it may be impossible to sterilize formula, bottles or nipples.
- If there is no electricity, opened prepared formula cannot be preserved in the refrigerator.
- If there is no electricity, you cannot use an electric breast pump, but you can easily express your milk with your hands. Click here to learn more about hand expression.
Additional Information and Resources
American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children Website- Creating a Family Disaster Plan
Helpful Articles from La Leche League International (LLLI)
International Lactation Consultant Association- ILCA’s Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Breastfeeding Mothers
Texas WIC Program: Handout for mothers in Emergencies – 2005:developed in Texas (PDF) and Other Helpful Information
General Emergency Preparedness Information
(The information above was adapted from the following resources: 2009 International Lactation Consultant Association- Written by Kendall Cox and Cathy Carothers, for World Breastfeeding Week Action Kit, “Breastfeeding: A Vital Emergency Response. Are You Ready?.”, American Academy of Pediatrics (2007): “Infant Feeding During a Disaster: Breastfeeding and Other Options” and the United States Breastfeeding Committee Publication: Breastfeeding: A Vital Emergency Response. Are You Ready?)