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Emily: Traveling with a baby is easier than many think it is. But new parents might be intimidated by the prospect of bring their baby’s food through airport security, especially breast milk or formula. If you can’t bring it, baby won’t be able to eat! 🙁
The most important thing I travel with is food for my baby, so this takes first priority when planning a trip. My baby breastfeeds 1 to 2 meals a day, and other than that she is bottle fed with pumped milk.
Can you travel with frozen breast milk? Can you travel with breast milk in a bottle? The answer is yes, and yes!
But you’ll need to plan ahead and budget more time at the airport.
Here are a few tips that can help you when you’re traveling with milk for your baby.
Getting Past TSA Baby Food Restrictions
I had a goal to breastfeed Arya for at least 6 months because of the many health benefits. Keep in mind that there are lots of ways to feed your baby, including breast milk from the source, pumped breast milk, supplementation with formula, or exclusively formula. There’s no right or wrong way – just do what works best for your baby and your body.
I have low supply, so I rely on donations from other moms to make up the difference. (Ladies, if you struggle with low supply or have other issues feeding your baby, post in moms’ groups on Facebook and ask around to local midwives and doulas for donations).
My baby has been almost exclusively breastfed for 6 months thanks to wonderful women who have helped us out! So before you switch to formula, it’s worth checking.
1. Determine How Much Milk You’ll Need for Your Trip
My first step in packing was figuring out how many ounces I needed to bring. Arya eats around six 4-ounce meals a day, which means I had to take a lot of frozen breast milk for a 9-day trip!
In total, Arya eats ~24 ounces per day, so I had to plan on her eating at least 216 ounces of milk (24 ounces x 9 days). I brought 140 ounces of frozen breast milk, and pumped to supplement the remaining.
I also use formula once per day, right before Arya goes to sleep. My favorite brand is Holle, which is imported from Germany. It’s one of the best formulas out there.
2. Pack It Well and Keep It With You
If you are flying with breast milk, be sure to pack it as a carry-on. Do NOT check-in your baby’s most important life source! You don’t want to take the chance that the airline may lose your luggage. It’s just not worth it!
I’ve traveled ~12 hours on a few separate occasions with frozen breast milk. I pack it in an insulated travel cooler and surround the milk with ice packs (also allowed by the TSA for this purpose). This has always kept my breast milk nice and frozen, even on very long trips.
Then I put the cooler in my carry-on bag. And I also put her box of formula and my breastmilk pump in our carry-on. It’s a bit of a production!
I also packed at least 4 ready-made bottles for the day’s journey. Be sure to keep these cold so that your baby doesn’t get sick. I kept her bottles in the same cooler as her frozen breast milk.
3. Allow More Time for Security
I haven’t had major issues taking frozen breast milk or ready-made bottles through security. But on my way to Hawaii, the large amount of frozen breast milk set off the TSA alarms, and I had to wait for a detailed search.
This took ~20 extra minutes, so be sure to allow extra time for in-depth TSA searches.
But on a recent trip to Charlotte, I was only held up by TSA for a few minutes.
Be sure to budget plenty of extra time at the airport, especially if you’re traveling with a lot of milk!
Beware, Moms Who Pump!
Don’t forget that breast milk supply is determined by demand. Often on vacation or traveling for work, it’s difficult to find the time to pump.
I try to get Arya to breastfeed even a little bit for each meal, and pump for longer time periods when I’m able. But be warned, your supply will likely go down, which means less milk for your baby!
If you are using a rental car while on vacation, it’s nice to have the option to pump while in the car. Many breast pumps are cordless, so they are great to take with you on the road!
Don’t be afraid to travel with your baby if you need to pack liquid or frozen breast milk (or formula, or juice!). I’ve traveled this way with my baby Arya on several occasions!
The TSA allows you to pack frozen breast milk and take it in a carry-on. You can also take ready-made bottles on your trip. Pack them well in an insulated cooler with lots of ice packs to keep them safe for your baby.
But you’ll have to allow more time for security screenings, especially if you’re traveling with a lot of food, like I was.
Parents, have you had a similar experience? Please share in the comments!