Everybody knows the rule: when you are packing a carry-on for a flight, you have to leave liquids out or pour them into containers (not bigger than 3.4 ounces) and put in a transparent bag. However, when you are traveling with a baby, those liquid rules seem too daunting. You might be a mommy flying with a little one and bottles of breast milk or formula, or you are having pumped milk which you want to bring home. And you wonder if there are rules for transporting breast milk on an airplane. Don’t worry! Nowadays airlines are breastfeeding mothers-friendly, and there are some exemptions that let you pass TSA security if you do follow some clear and simple rules. Keep reading to get to know these rules and learn how to travel with a breastmilk bottle.
Breast Milk Airport Security
Not so long ago we have heard of parents flying with formula or breastmilk who experienced troubles when they were trying to pass security control. Some people underwent a long screening process, ice packs with milk could have been prohibited on board, or women had to use their best breast pump in ultimately inconvenient conditions. Transporting frozen breast milk was a nightmare! Luckily, the Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Act was signed into law, which ensured that parents flying with breast milk or formula gets respective, reasonable treatment. Since then things have improved greatly!
Breast milk, formula, or even juice for children are allowed on board in reasonable quantities; parents don’t have to travel with a baby to take all those liquids. On the one hand, it’s great news. On the other hand, TSA officers determine what counts as a reasonable quantity on their own – it can cause confusion or misunderstanding. Before the screening process, let an officer know that you have breast milk or formula – they must be screened separately from the other carry-on. The officer may X-ray the milk to exclude contraband or explosives; for this reason, your containers will be opened and a small amount of milk will be poured into another cup for examining. Opening the bottle for a breastfed baby does make some parents uncomfortable! If so, you have to inform a TSA officer that you don’t want to have the bottles opened. In all likelihood, you’ll have to undergo alternate security actions, such as having you carry-on things screened or being pat-down.
Frozen gel packs or frozen breast milk on an airplane are also allowed; however, if they are a bit melted, they will be screened in the same way as liquids.
How To Travel With Breastmilk
Traveling with breastmilk or formula is not that easy. Besides, things become even more challenging if you need pumping. You might be thinking all the time “How will I be able to handle this? What if something will go wrong? What about my best breast pump – will I be able to use it comfortably?” It seems like we hear all your questions and fears! Lots of moms were in such situations, so you are not alone. Some of them got into trouble – they missed their flight or were shamed while pumping; so, yes, unpleasant things may happen. However, you should remember that the vast majority of airports and airlines are mom-&-baby-friendly, they do try to be helpful. Thanks to this most breastfeeding mothers fly without incidents. So, it’s doable, and we are here to support you with important information and tips.
How To Pack Breast Milk For Air Travel
Packing breast milk for air travel is not too complicated; however, you should arm yourself with some information to avoid confusion and trouble when you are passing security control.
Packing the best breast pump – this device can be called “medical equipment” and you might want to take one carry-on, one personal item thing and your pump. But if you meet an ornery security officer, he/she may reject you. So, to avoid any hardship with passing control, you’d better take one best breast pump and one carry-on.
Packing fresh breast milk – put the bottles into a Ziplock, or a leak-resistant lunch bag and cram it into your carry-on. You’d better keep the milk or formula in pump bottles, this way, you’ll avoid spills.
Packing a baby bottle warmer – you can’t take this device with you onboard, so pack it into your suitcase.
How To Transport Frozen Breast Milk
The first question you’ll ask is “How to store breast milk when traveling?” We think that freezing is the best way to keep milk during short and long trips. You have to prepare it in advance, and what we like the most is that frozen milk can be stored up to 12 months in the freezer. Impressed? So do we!
Of course, frozen milk requires proper storage during air travel. You can’t pack the freezer into your suitcase, so you need an alternate source – a breast milk cooler.
A cooler filled with ice – put frozen milk in an insulated cooler filled with ice packs, don’t keep it more than 12 hours. When you arrive home, you have to transfer your frozen milk into a fridge immediately; it’s OK to feed your little one with this milk within 24 hours.
A cooler filled with dry ice – if you are going to travel for more than 12 hours, you’d better use dry ice in your cooler since it doesn’t melt, so it will keep your milk frozen for longer. When you need to remove the milk, use tongs to prevent frostbites.
How Long Does Pumped Breast Milk Last
There is not just one answer to this question. Pumped breast milk tends to last various amounts of time – it fully depends on the temperature.
You can keep you freshly pumped milk from 4 up to six hours in the room temperature up to 77F. If the room temperature is 80-90F, store the milk not longer than 4 hours. When you put freshly pumped breast milk into a refrigerator, you can rest assured that it’s good for your baby up to 5 days. Another method to keep your liquid gold is cooler filled with ice, and as you already know, it’s perfect for traveling; keep such milk for up to 12 hours.
If you freeze your milk and keep it in a deep freezer, it’ll last from six up to twelve months depending on the temperature. Do not keep thawed liquid more than 2 hours in the room temperature and 24 hours in the fridge or ice-packed cooler.
Breastfeeding On Plane
If you are going to travel with your baby and choose to breastfeed him/her during the flight, you should consider the following tips.
- Keep hydrated – the air is recirculated and dry in the plane, so you have to drink much liquid during the flight; experts even recommend to start drinking more a few days before the flight. Also, your body will need some time to adjust to a new time zone, as well as your supply has to re-adjust. So, don’t worry if you notice some changes, just take time and try to rest when your baby is sleeping.
- Pumping while traveling – if you are going to use the best breast pump during the flight, check that power outlet is located near your seat. Or you can take a manual pump with you. Anyway, experienced mothers recommend putting on the best pumping bra – it’s super convenient. If you are traveling overseas with an electric device, make sure to take a convert kit. Also, don’t forget to take a cooler to store the liquid gold.
- Take a nursing cover or blanket – you don’t have to use cover while breastfeeding – it not obligatory. However, you may feel more comfortable if you and your little one are covered up. So, take a nursing cover, a blanket, or a scarf.
- Know your rights – in case of confrontation, call for a flight attendant; he/she has to mediate the situation. Plus, the flight attendant can remove the passenger from your area and you will be able to go on breastfeeding your little one.
- Use a travel neck pad instead of a breastfeeding pillow – a nursing pillow might be too bulky to take it on board. You can place your neck pad between the armrest and your arm; it’ll make you more comfortable during breastfeeding.
- Take an aisle seat – experienced moms recommend choosing an aisle seat since it’ll be easier to stand up and walk with your little one. You don’t want to bee stuck between 2 other passengers or feel uncomfortable while nursing. Plus, you’ll get quickly to the restroom if you need to clean up after an accident or want to change the baby’s diaper.
Tips For Flying With A Newborn
Traveling with a newborn is not an easy task, but if you are well-informed and make all the necessary preparation, your flight will be almost smooth and relatively pleasant. So, don’t stress out, here is a shortlist of everything you need to do and prepare.
- Buy a direct flight
- Don’t forget to visit a restroom before the flight
- Do not skip the pre-board
- Buy a separate seat for your little one
- Think of renting baby gear for the trip
- Take extra baby clothes necessities
- Dress up comfortably, take clothing change for yourself
- Take the baby’s medicine if needed
- Don’t forget some distractions for a baby, something like a rattle, pacifier
- Don’t pay attention to haters
You can print out these simple rules not to forget something important and feel as comfortable as it’s possible during the flight with your little darling.
Our experts at top-mom.com are always here to help you. Here we have provided you with all the necessary info, so you should feel more confident while flying with breastmilk.
Tell us about your first flight experience with breastmilk and/or your little one. We need to learn from each other.