It’s finally time for your baby’s first trip on an airplane. Luggage is packed, the itinerary is planned, and the camera is ready to snap a million first-time family travel photos.
But what about food for the flight?
While traveling with a baby, one of the biggest concerns for us parents is making sure that our little ones are well-fed and comfortable. Especially if the flight is going to be a long one.
A full tummy keeps your munchkin happy and playful, which is the best-case scenario while you’re up in the air.
TSA Baby Food & Formulae Rules (Plus Tips for Flying)
The TSA is pretty strict about what you can and what you cannot carry on the plane. Especially liquids.
But baby foods are an exception. If you follow their rules and guidelines properly, there should be no hassle in carrying your baby food and baby formula past the security and onto the flight.
Can You Bring Baby Food on an Airplane?
Anyone traveling with an infant is allowed to pack baby food, milk, and juice for the flight into a carry-on.
While the TSA has strict rules about other liquids and foods allowed on the plane, baby food and formulae are less restricted. You may bring as much baby food as you need.
Tip: Check out what we like to use for packing baby food for the airplane.
TSA Rules for Baby Food
The TSA aims to protect passengers while traveling. Which is why they are so particular about the items in your carry-on bags.
They have a list of food and liquids that are allowed on the plane, as well as how much.
However, not all of the rules apply to baby food and liquids, regulations are quite simple for infants:
- You must be traveling with the baby to carry food (obviously)
- Keep your baby food and other liquid carry-on items separate
- Inform the TSA officer that you are carrying these liquid food items at the checkpoint
Traveling with Formula and Baby Food
It’s always a good idea to know in advance what you’ll be required to do at the airport in terms of security procedures while traveling with formula and baby food.
1. Notify the TSA When Traveling with an Infant
Just as you need to remove your laptops from your carry-on bag during the screening process at the airport, the same is required of baby food as well.
At the security checkpoint, take your formula, juices, breast milk, and other baby foods that may be in liquid form out of your bags. They will be screened separately.
You will have to inform the TSA officer before the screening that you’re traveling with a toddler and are carrying liquid baby foods in excess of the permitted limit.
2. Liquid Rule Exemption for Baby Food on Planes
Typically, the permitted quantity of liquids that you can carry on a plane is 3.4 ounces(100 milliliters).
But when it comes to baby food, this is often not nearly enough for a full flight.
Thankfully, the TSA understands this and allows you to travel with as much as you need.
In addition, if you need to carry additional paraphernalia such as ice and frozen gel packs to keep your baby food fresh, you’re allowed to do so.
But they are subject to the same screening process as the rest of your baby food items.
3. Screening Process for Baby Food and Baby Formulae
The TSA officers need to be absolutely sure that the liquids that they’re carrying are safe for the other passengers on the flight.
Hence, they are screened thoroughly for concealed prohibited items.
You might even be asked to open the bottle and dispose of it a little bit or transfer it to another empty container, which is also screened.
If you’re specific about the fact that the bottle must not be opened before consumption, you can inform the TSA officer and they will find an alternate method of screening.
You may then have to undergo a more vigorous check yourself before they clear you to carry your baby formula on the plane.
4. TSA PreCheck with Kids
When you’re traveling with baby formula, it’s always better to get TSA PreCheck.
This will help you get a Trusted Traveler Number, which means that you qualify for expedited screening.
TSA PreCheck queues are much shorter relatively and you have to spend very little time awaiting your turn.
In addition, you don’t need to take off your shoes and your laptops can stay put in your carry-on bags.
But the biggest advantage for people flying with baby food pouches and breast milk is that they do not need to take these contents out of their bags.
Sure, the bags are screened from the outside for detecting explosives, but that’s about it.
Your formula can stay arranged in the bag and doesn’t need to be taken out until it’s time to feed your baby.
Having said that, you may still be asked to remove the baby food pouches and bottles from your bag under certain circumstances.
5. Carrying Water to Make Baby Food on the Airplane
Since you’re traveling with baby food, you’re definitely going to need water to make fresh formula when your little peanut gets hungry.
It’s advisable to buy bottled water after the check-in point from an authorized vendor, instead of bringing it from home.
While the TSA does not restrict carrying food items for your little ones, they may want you to discard the water, as it’s easily available beyond the check-in point.
You can carry an empty thermos along with you which can easily be filled at the many water fountains at the airport.
Another alternative would be to ask your flight attendant for a sealed water bottle before mixing up your formula.
Avoid using tap water from the bathroom faucets of the airplane as it’s not considered safe for your child’s sensitive tummy.
6. Pre-Preparation when Flying with Baby Formulae
It’s essential to be prepared for your baby’s hunger needs on the airplane. Preparing a bottle in a small space, with a baby on your lap or playing next to you isn't ideal.
You may have no choice, for an emergency feed, but try to have as many of your feeds already planned for and portioned into bottles.
That way, you will only have to pour water into them later, eliminating the need to deal with loose powder.
This will also save you the hassle of additional screening by the TSA as your baby food will not be in liquid form at the time of check-in.
Tip: You might be also interested in reading our article about tips for surviving the trip with your little one here.
How to pack formula for air travel?
Getting past the TSA is one thing, but you also need to make your life easier by packing the formula for maximum convenience.
1. Carry a Formula Dispenser with Sections
If your formula dispenser is sectioned, you won’t have to worry about measuring the powder quantity every time you make the formula on the plane.
Each section of the dispenser can simply be emptied into a bottle to make enough for a single feed.
Check out the price for this formula dispenser on Amazon here.
2. Take a Cooler Bag when Traveling with Baby Food
In addition to carrying ice and gel packs, it’s important to carry your baby food in a cooler bag as it helps keep your breast milk and other pouches fresh for a longer duration.
Check the price for this baby food cooler bag on Amazon now.
3. Carry Extra Formula
As we mentioned, the restrictions on baby food are much lighter than usual TSA regulations.
So pack a little extra and be prepared in the case of delays.
Summary – Flying with Baby Food
Traveling with kids requires a little more preparation and planning, but it's often easier than it seems at first.
With a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you can make some of the best memories of your life traveling with your little ones.
The TSA is meant for the safety of the people and they are extremely cooperative when you’re traveling with children.
There’s no limit on the amount of food you can carry for your little ones.
Tip: Check our article on what accessories to take for a long haul flight here.
Not sure where to go for your first vacation? Here is our list of the best places to travel with a 1 year old.