Flying with breast milk: What you need to know


Oh, the tools needed to travel with an infant or child. You have games. Diapers, clothes and snacks. An endless list of things to keep your little one entertained and comfortable during the flight. Add to the sometimes confusing world of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules and regulations, flying with breast milk And the The little boy is confused.

But wait! Before flying with airlines is off your bucket list until the kids are older, it can be helpful to know that you can bring breast milk and other liquids for the kids with your carry-on. We’ve all been trained to measure our fluids carefully to make sure they don’t exceed 3.4 ounces, but these rules don’t apply to feeding infants (and many moms don’t know this!).

Related: Do you fly with a child? 10 tips to make air travel with kids a breeze

The rules and regulations regarding flying with breast milk apply if you are traveling with or without your baby. This means that if you’re pumping while away, you can still bring milk on the plane without hassle. The trick is to know your rights beforehand because sometimes, it seems that TSA agents don’t understand the rules.

Here’s everything you need to know about traveling with liquids for babies and children so you spend less time stressing out at the airport and more time enjoying your flight.

You can bring “reasonable” amounts of breast milk, formula or even juice on the plane

  • According to TSA guidelines, breast milk and formula are “medically necessary fluids.” This means that you are not restricted to the usual liquid limits for carry-on baggage.
  • Pumping gear is also medically necessary (although sometimes it’s still considered a hand baggage, so check with your airline).
  • TSA rules are also expanding to include juice or milk for young children. So if your child has a favorite drinking cup, it’s okay to bring it on the plane.
  • All supplies such as ice packs or gels needed to keep breast milk cold are also fine. Only expect more additional checking if the ice melts or the gel becomes liquid, as they will likely need additional checking.
  • Breast milk is checked by an X-ray machine, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assures are safe for parents. But if you feel uncomfortable, it’s okay to decline.
  • According to the CDC, tell the TSA agent that you don’t want the X-rays (you’ll undergo additional screening such as scans or other searches).
  • And contrary to what you may have heard, you don’t have to taste milk in front of a dealer to prove it’s safe.

So how much can you bring with you? The guidelines state that you can carry “reasonable amounts,” which means you can bring everything you need to get you on a flight with an infant or young child, and keep some in case of delay.

Related: A sleep scientist shares her best sleep tips for traveling with babies and children

It is your mother’s right to feed your child safely at the airport

If you are traveling with your little one, transporting milk is just one of the many things you have to juggle. Once you arrive at the airport, you’ll also want to be able to comfortably breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby. Some moms feel good breastfeeding in public or in a nursing cover, but others prefer more privacy.

Either way, the Mother-Friendly Airports Act (FAM) ensures you have a place to do so (because no one should breastfeed their child in a bathroom stall).

FAM law requires that airports accommodate parents with a private, lockable area with electrical outlets and a sink at each terminal. You may want to look at the airport’s website or call ahead to see what specific areas are available.

Another thing to look for early on is Mamava. Mamafa is a company founded by women working towards a future with better breastfeeding options. Download their free app to find breastfeeding capsules at airports throughout the 50 states and beyond.

Keep plane travel stress-free (or at least less stressful) by following these tips

Traveling really requires a lot of advance planning, but with a few extra steps, you can make traveling with liquids for infants and children that much easier:

  • Print out the TSA rules that you should have with you just in case anyone asks what is and isn’t allowed.
  • While you are undergoing the examination, tell the TSA agent that you carry milk, milk, milk, or juice, and remove it from your belongings for ease of examination.
  • It is perfectly acceptable to ask the TSA agent to use a new pair of gloves before touching bottles, cups, or bags.
  • Be prepared to tell the agent that you would prefer to avoid the x-rays if that is what you prefer, so that you do not feel pressured to do something that you are not comfortable with.
  • You may be asked to open or express a small amount of breast milk for testing (freezing will not require this step), but you can also ask for screening alternatives if you do not wish to do so.

As a note – these guidelines are for domestic travel within the United States. International travel will have different rules and policies, so check with the individual airlines if you’re traveling out of the country.

Traveling with a child can be a bit daunting, but knowing these TSA rules and regulations in advance can make your trip as easy and stress-free as possible.


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