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
Handouts for Mothers
Breastfed Babies are Ready for Anything (English)
Breastfed Babies are Ready for Anything (Spanish)
Storing and Handling Human Milk in an Emergency
Handouts for Providers and Relief Workers
Infant Feeding in Disasters and Emergencies (AAP)
Facts about Breastfeeding in an Emergency – for Relief Workers (ILCA)
Additional General Emergency Preparedness/Breastfeeding Information & Resources
Breastfeeding and Emergencies (USBC)
Caring for your family in a disaster (March of Dimes)
Creating a Family Disaster Plan (AAP)
Disaster/Emergency/Crisis Nursing (La Leche League International)
Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies (ILCA)
(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?)