10 Tips for Flying with Breast Milk and Formula

Mom of two and influencer Ana Gildersleeve is a travel lover—in her native Spain, her adopted home in the US, and all over the world. Now she is instilling that same love of travel in her kids, ages one and four. So we knew she would have expert advice on how to safely and easily fly with formula or breast milk. Here are her best tips. 

Get your baby used to room-temperature formula ahead of travel

In the days before your trip, get your infant used to drinking room temperature formula. Most babies will do fine with room temperature, even if they are used to warmed formula at home. If they will only drink it warm, ask the flight attendant for hot water to warm the bottle, or use a little hot water mixed into your room temperature water prior to mixing with powder formula. Always be very careful with any amount of hot water near an infant, to avoid an accidental burn. 

Pack extra formula in your suitcase

Make sure you have enough formula for the whole trip: Either pack extra in your luggage, direct ship it to your destination ahead of time, or even map out local grocery stores to stop at that carry your desired infant formula. For infants who are mainly on table food, it can often be helpful to bring a few pouches of healthy baby food items in your suitcase or carry on in case needed. Pureed prune pouches are very useful for babies who may skip a day or two of pooping during travel!​

Pack cleaning supplies in a carryon

Make sure you have what you need in case a bottle needs to be washed. Other smart supplies include hand sanitizer, wipes, and even a mat to give you a clean surface anywhere to mix your formula. 

Pre-measure formula

If you don’t plan to take a full tin of formula with you on the plane, pre-measure scoops into individual bags or containers before you leave home. For example, if your baby drinks a 4-ounce bottle, you can pre-measure 2 scoops into each bag or container—then when it comes time to feed, mix that portion with 4 ounces of bottled water. 

Bring your formula scoop

If you’re bringing a larger quantity of powdered formula that isn’t pre-measuring by serving, make sure to bring the scoop from the tin so that you get proper measurements when making a bottle. Just be sure to take a photo of the mixing instructions on the tin to have with you as a reminder. 

Plan for delays

Leave extra time, both at the airport and once you arrive in your destination, in case things take longer than anticipated. And bring twice as much of everything: formula or breast milk, diapers, a change of clothes—anything you need for your baby. TSA does allow formula, breast milk, and baby food in any reasonable quantity, even over the usual 3.4 ounce liquid carry-on rules. These items are considered medically necessary liquids and therefore allowed. That said, rules may vary country to country, so for international flights, be sure to research what’s allowed ahead of time. 

Travel with solid ice packs

If you have breast milk or premixed formula, you’ll need to keep it cool. Make sure ice packs are frozen solid before leaving your home, and stash everything in an insulated bag.

Alert checkpoint security that you have a baby

Pack all of your feeding items in your diaper bag so it’s clear to airport security officers that it’s for your baby, and tell them up front that you have gear including formula diaper cream, a baby food pouch, and anything else in the diaper bag that they may otherwise question. It isn’t required to announce it, but I’ve found that being nice and friendly can always help get you and your family through security much faster. It’s fine for powder or premixed formula to go through the TSA X-ray machines. However, if you’re uncomfortable, just let the TSA officer know. 

Buy room-temperature bottled water

Purchase it once you’re through security, then pour some into a baby bottle that has measuring units on it, add the appropriate amount of powder, then shake and feed your baby.

Feed your baby during takeoff and landing

If the timing works out, it can really help decrease ear pain due to pressure changes. If it’s not feeding time, or your baby doesn’t want to drink, sucking on a pacifier can also help them feel soothed and comfortable during takeoff and landing.