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How One Mom Took Action to Make Traveling While Breastfeeding Better

“New parents have enough to worry about, especially while traveling. TSA screening checkpoints should not pose a risk to Americans who just want to keep their babies healthy and fed.”
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published August 10, 2022
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Image: Paradee Siriboon/Shutterstock

Three months ago Emily Calandrelli, the host of the popular Netflix show Emily’s Wonder Lab, made a viral post that would change the lives of moms everywhere.

No it wasn’t in promotion of her show or a new venture, it was to share an all to familiar struggle. In May, while traveling away from her newborn for the first time, Calandrelli shared that she was harassed and delayed by TSA officers at Los Angeles International Airport for trying to carry on ice packs that she needed to safely store breast milk for her 10-week-old son.

Despite existing TSA guidelines that permitted her to carry them on she was forced to check her needed supllies. When hundreds of mothers responded that they had been through the same struggle Calandrelli knew she had to do something about it.

The MIT engineer and Emmy-nominated TV host wrote to her representative California Congresswoman Katie Porter to ask for help making a change. Just weeks later the two met to draft up a bill to protect the rights of parents when traveling. “Working with Congresswoman Porter on this has turned a pretty awful experience into a positive one,” said Calandrelli in a press release announcing the introduction of the bill. “Every single parent who echoed my experience will now feel seen and supported because of this bill.”

The Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening (BABES) Enhancement Act, co-led by Congresswoman Maria Salazar (R-FL) and Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), would require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to clarify and regularly update guidance on handling breast milk, baby formula, and other products that keep baby fed. It would also direct an independent government watchdog to audit TSA’s compliance with the new bill and report violations, like those experienced by Calandrelli to lawmakers.

“New parents have enough to worry about, especially while traveling,” said Porter, a single mom of three school-aged kids. “TSA screening checkpoints should not pose a risk to Americans who just want to keep their babies healthy and fed. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill that will make it easier for parents with young kids to travel safely.”

So far the BABES Enhancement Act has been endorsed by the March of Dimes, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and more organizations leading the way for Maternal health protections. To join the fight in pushing this legislation forward you can reach out to your representative and let them know that the BABES Enhancement Act (H.R.8695) is important to parents, babies and their loved ones and deserves their vote. You can watch as the bill moves through congress here.

If you have an upcoming trip planned with your little one check out these 6 Tips for Traveling with Babyfor ideas to make your travels a little easier.

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