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Flying with Breast Milk: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re a mother of little kids, trying to travel with babies and toddlers is tough enough. Adding breast or formula feeding to the equation makes things much more difficult. If you will be flying with breast milk or formula you need to know the rules about what you’re allowed to bring and how to transport it without spoiling. Read on to learn these tips for flying with breast milk.

flying with breast milk

Flying with Breast Milk

How much breast milk can you fly with?

When my daughter was small and still drinking breast milk and formula I never had a problem bringing it on a plane. The most dramatic thing that ever happened was that security had to test a small amount of the milk. It only took a second and then the milk and formula was returned right back to me.

Normally the rule for bringing liquids on an airplane is that they must be in containers 3.4 ounces in size and fit in a clear quart sized bag. Fortunately airport security understands the needs of babies and small children and the rules for flying with breast milk and formula are a little more relaxed.

For the purposes of TSA screening procedures, an infant is defined as a child who must be physically carried by an adult throughout the screening process. A toddler is defined as a child who receives assistance in walking by an adult throughout the screening process.

Formula, breast milk and juice for babies and toddlers “in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag.

Security has always been generally understanding towards my family and luckily we have never really had an issue (knock on wood).

TSA officers may need to test liquids for explosives or concealed prohibited items. Officers may ask you to open the container and/or have you transfer a small quantity of the liquid to a separate empty container or dispose of a small quantity, if feasible.

Inform the TSA officer if you do not want the formula, breast milk and/or juice to be X-rayed or opened. Additional steps will be taken to clear the liquid and you or the traveling guardian will undergo additional screening procedures, to include a pat-down and screening of other carry-on property.

The Food and Drug Administration states that there are no known adverse effects from eating food, drinking beverages and using medicine screened by X-ray.

Ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk and juice are allowed in carry-on. If these accessories are partially frozen or slushy, they are subject to the same screening as described above. You may also bring gel or liquid-filled teethers, canned, jarred and processed baby food in carry-on baggage. These items may be subject to additional screening.

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How do you transport breast milk on a plane?

Bring along a water-tight cooler, plenty of ice packs, and all your empty bottles or breast milk storage bags. Your freezer packs and breast milk storage containers may be more than 3.4 oz. Declare them at security, even when they are empty. Ask the TSA agent to change into clean gloves before they begin the inspection. More good news: You do not need to travel with your child to bring breast milk.

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6 Ways To Keep Breast milk Cold While Traveling

  1. You don’t really need ice (most of the time). Breast milk is SO stable, and it can totally handle a few hours at room temperature. See more details below about how long it can be at room temperature.
  2. Frozen milk bags act as ice packs to each other and breast milk storage bags make great emergency ice packs.
  3. Bring a cooler on board with you to hold your stored milk.
  4. Ship your milk home. If need be, you can ship your milk home with dry ice. Warning- This option will be extremely expensive.

How long is warmed breast milk good for at room temperature?

To be safe, you should ideally use room temperature breast milk within 4 to 5 hours. But if necessary, you could extend that time up to about 8 hours (preferably in a cooler room). After sitting out at room temperature for 8 hours, the bacteria can grow to unsafe levels.

Can I bring my breast pump on a plane?

TSA breast pump policy is that breast pumps can be carried on or checked. However, I would recommend that no matter how short your flight is, if you are flying with a breast pump, carry your pump on. Your airline may consider it a medical device and not count it as a carry-on. You don’t want to risk it getting lost or damaged if you check it.

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Does a breast milk cooler count as a carry on bag?

Your breast milk cooler does count as a carry-on. Bring a good water-tight cooler, plenty of ice packs, and all your empty bottles or breast milk storage bags.

Can I bring water for baby formula on a plane?

Formula Rules

TSA has tried to make things easy for parents flying with infants, but you’re still subject to rules when flying with liquids. Any water you bring through the checkpoint must be in a container smaller than 3.4 ounces, and all your liquids, gels and aerosols have to fit in a single 1-quart plastic bag.

TSA allows parents with infants to carry on a “reasonable amount” of powdered or liquid formula on a plane, along with empty bottles and ice packs. There are basically no restrictions regarding how much formula can be packed in checked luggage. Keep in mind that TSA officers make the final decision on whether certain items are permitted into the secured areas of the airport.

Can I wear my baby through airport security?

When you go through security in the United States, you do not have to remove your baby or your soft-bodied baby carrier. The TSA agents will allow you to go through the metal detector while still wearing your baby.

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flying with breast milk

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