Infants: 0-2

How to Travel with Breast Milk: 8 Common Questions Answered

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Traveling with kids of any age can be trying on parents, and the added “bonus” of getting through airport security is always a treat. But for breastfeeding moms, all of this can be doubly stressful. Not sure what to do? We’ve answered the most common questions moms ask when preparing to travel with breast milk.

1. How do I prepare?

The 3-1-1 or liquids rule for carry-on luggage requires that any liquids must be less than 3.4 ounces or 110 millimeters and fit in one quart-sized resealable bag to be screened when you go through the security checkpoint. However, formula, breast milk and juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces is permitted with additional security screening. Have your formula, breast milk or juice separated from any other liquids under the 3.4 ounces and inform a TSA officer that you are carrying these items at the beginning of your security screening process.

2. What happens during the security screening?

TSA officers will need to conduct additional screenings on your breast milk, formula or juice for explosives or prohibited items. The officers will likely use an X-ray machine to test the items or ask you to open the container and have you transfer a portion of the liquids to a separate, empty container in order to test it.

You can inform the officer that you do not wish for the container to be opened, and additional steps can be taken to clear the liquids. Those additional steps could include a pat-down or screening of other carry-on property.

The Food and Drug Administration states that an X-ray screening of food or drink does not adversely affect the product.

3. How can I store my breast milk?

You are permitted to store your breast milk, juice or formula with an ice or freezer pack or frozen gel pack. But if the storage packs are only partially frozen, they are also subject to the same screening process as the actual breast milk, formula or juice. See 5 Best Products for Traveling With Breast Milk for other storage ideas.

4. Can I bring baby food and toys?

Gel or liquid-filled teething toys, as well as jarred or canned baby food, are all permitted in carry-on luggage. Just know that they could be subject to the same security screenings.

5. Does my breastfeeding baby need to be with me?

Breastfeeding moms who are flying without their child, but with breast milk, are permitted to follow the same additional security screening rules for the liquids.

6. Should I ship my breast milk?

If you want to eliminate the additional security screening process altogether, consider shipping your breast milk to your destination ahead of time. Frozen breast milk can be packed in a cooler with dry ice or ice packs and shipped overnight to your destination. Make sure there is someone to receive the package, however, since it will need to be stored properly upon delivery.

7. Can I pump in-flight?

Check with your airline and airport to see if there is a private place to pump, like a family room. If you are an airline rewards member, some airlines offer lounges that could provide a bit more privacy, as well. You can also carry on your breast pump, but it will be considered one of your two personal items (such as a purse) if it does not fit within another carry-on bag. There are no laws regarding breast pumping in U.S. airports, but if you are flying internationally, you may want to do some research ahead of time.

8. Can I breastfeed in-flight?

Mothers are permitted to breastfeed or pump during a flight, either in their seat or in the restroom. It’s a good idea to make the flight attendants or your seatmate aware that you will be breastfeeding during the flight in order to make sure everyone is comfortable.

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