Home Air Travel Travels with Baby Tip #25: Bring on the Bottles

Travels with Baby Tip #25: Bring on the Bottles

by Shelly Rivoli

For any air passenger, the prospect of spending unexpected extra 2 to 10 hours in the airplane–before it even leaves the tarmac–is a frightening proposition. Now try that with a baby. Or a toddler. Or for some families… both!

In this age of “unpredictability in air travel,” parents need to be more ready than ever to handle unexpected delays with their children, be it in the airplane itself, or even in the airport. Truth is, baby essentials such as diapers, wipes, and formula are not easy to come by in airports, and even airport stores and restaurants close at some appointed hour.

Aside from bringing far more diapers than you anticipate you’ll need during your flight (the importance of which is illustrated in Travels with Baby!), you should also be sure to bring plenty of snacks for the family, and liquids for your child. If you are gearing up for your first flight with your baby, especially if yours is a formula-fed infant, you may have a lot of concerns about what you can and can’t expect to bring into the cabin. Rest assured that when you fly with your baby:

* You CAN bring on prepared bottles
* You CAN bring on liquid formula
* You CAN bring on expressed breast milk
* You CAN bring on juice for your baby, and
* You CAN bring on jarred/packaged baby food

–in quantities that exceed the 3 oz. rule for other liquids and gels.

The TSA states:

“You are encouraged to travel with only as much formula, breast milk, or juice in your carry-on needed to reach your destination.”

Of course, the amount needed to reach your destination may be significantly more if you end up sitting on the tarmac an extra 5 hours! Pack accordingly, and present your child and all of your liquids for him (any filled baby bottles, sealed formula bottles, sealed juice boxes and bottles, and baby foods) very clearly and obviously to the security personnel as you approach the X-ray. Click here for more details.

These liquid items do not need to be in a quart-size plastic zip-top bag, like the personal liquid and gel items for older passengers, but for organization’s sake, you may find it helpful to store all of baby’s beverages and baby foods in a gallon-size plastic zip-top bag within your diaper bag (or two bags, if you’re going long-haul). That way it’s easy to remove everything you’ll need to present with one hand–even as you hold your child in your arms. The bag will also help contain any leaks or drips during the flight.

Also, remember you may carry on milk boxes for toddlers, too, as described in greater detail in Tip #4.

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning guide Travels with Baby
The Ultimate Guide for Planning Trips with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschool-Age Children

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Anonymous October 21, 2011 - 8:00 pm

hi i plan on going to oz in jan, im from ireland so its gonna be a long trip im guessing at least 36hrs in total and probally more. the thing is i booked this holiday before i knew i was pregnant baby will be comming 2months at the time, my question is how do i wash and sterlise bottles on a plane thousands of feet in the air. im so worried im thinking of just cancelling. anytips or answers are greatly appreciated this is my 1st baby and 1st family holiday. siobhan x

Shelly Rivoli April 5, 2008 - 1:26 am

Thanks so much for your comment — it is great to hear from a parent with experience on both sides of the X-ray! (Are you available for an interview? Would your team like a review copy of Travels with Baby?! I’d love your feedback!)

Yes, it should be noted that the TSA allowance of liquids for infants and toddlers states “a reasonable amount” for your flight itinerary — not for your whole vacation itinerary! And the point there, of course, is to have those things which are hard if not impossible to come by for your child otherwise during air travel (e.g. infant formula — but certainly not soda!).

For parents making overseas flights with infants, this makes it especially compelling to choose an airline that may provide infant formula and/or baby food in flight — when you have a choice in airlines. For those who are interested, I’ve listed airlines providing these and other perks for small children in Travels with Baby.

Lynn April 4, 2008 - 3:08 pm

Very informative post. One thing I think it’s important to note is that while you certainly can bring breast milk, prepared formula, juice and baby food in excess of three ounces through the checkpoint, passengers should be aware that TSA does ask that you only bring reasonable amounts required for your flight. If you’re going on a five day trip, feel free to bring juice, formula, etc. for the flight, but not all the stuff for the five day trip. We’ve seen plenty of parents get upset thinking they can take everything they have through, including Sprite or other soda for older children.

I’m a TSA blogger and a mother of two small children, and know the challenges of traveling with infants and toddlers. But I also know the challenges that our officers have in balancing security with the needs of parents and children.

So if you show up at the checkpoint with one toddler and four bottles of juice or four large cans of Similac, you might have a problem. Put what you don’t immediately need in your checked baggage just to be safe.


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