Last Updated on February 6, 2022
Are you wondering if you can bring baby food on a plane or what to take? Keep on reading to learn all the tips and tricks:)
Having a baby certainly changes everything, especially travel. Just leaving your house to go to the grocery store can be a challenge, but now you’re talking about flying with your little one. One of your biggest concerns may be ensuring that your baby gets enough to eat while traveling. With all the liquid restrictions in place by TSA, are you even allowed to carry breast milk, formula, or other baby food on the plane? If so, what are the best things to bring and the best way to pack them in your carry-on bag? Ready to learn everything you need to know about bringing baby food on a plane? Great! Keep reading!
P.S I published this” baby food on plane” article because flying is the most challenging way of traveling with a baby (at least for me). This said, most of the baby food tips here apply to all modes of moving around with kids.
Can I Bring Baby Food on a Plane?
So, can you take baby food on a plane? The short answer is Yes.
The 3.4 Ounce (100 Milliliter) Rule Doesn’t Apply When Traveling With Baby
You may recall that the TSA limits the amount of liquids you’re able to bring while flying. You are only allowed to have a quart-size bag holding all of your fluids, with no more than 3.4 ounces (or 100 milliliters) of any given item.
When you read this rule, you may start panicking and wondering how you’ll be able to bring the formula, breast milk, or puréed foods your baby needs. Don’t panic! Fortunately, the TSA makes exceptions for individuals traveling with babies or toddlers. The same also applies to travelers in Europe.
The TSA’s website states that “baby food is allowed in reasonable quantities in carry-on bags.” So, unless you’re planning on bringing a whole gallon of formula or breast milk, you should be fine. However, it is also important to note that the TSA does have policies in place for bringing the baby food through security, which differ from the standard security screening process.
Unopened Baby Food Packages, Breast milk, Water are all Fine, but They may Need to be Tested
When you arrive at the security checkpoint, you will need to let the TSA agent know that you have baby food in your carry-on bag. Rather than leaving the items in the bag to go through the X-ray machine, you’ll be asked to remove any bottles or food items that contain liquids and give them to a TSA agent.
The agent will screen the food and liquids to ensure they are safe to bring on the plane. The screening process involves x-raying them and testing for any explosives or hidden items. One of the agents may ask you to open your bottles or containers to test the liquids inside.
While you are encouraged to grant this request, it is your right to deny it if you don’t want to open and expose the food. If you refuse the request, you’ll still be able to bring the food on the plane, but the agents may need to ensure their safety using other methods. You also have to go through extra screening.
You can bring both liquid and frozen breast milk as well as baby formula. Water to mix to make formula and additional water for babies and toddlers is also permitted but will also be subject to the abovementioned tests.
You may also pack ice packs to keep your baby’s food cold or liquid-filled teethers if needed. Unopened baby food packages (such as smoothies) are also usually fine.
Food to Bring for Babies and Toddlers When Traveling
Most dads love snacks, and so do your kids. You (and your kid) can survive short flights and trips only on these. The best thing is some of them require minimal effort on your part.
Here are a few simple baby food on plane ideas:
- Squeezable baby food pouches
- Soft breakfast bars
- Cooked pasta
- Teething crackers
- Baby puffs
- Freeze-dried yogurt bites
- Cucumber sticks
- Shredded cheese
Foods You Shouldn’t Bring on an Airplane
While the final decision is yours, of course, there are some foods not ideal when traveling:
- High-sugar foods like lollipops, candy, and chocolate could make your toddler too hyper
- Some snacks like blueberries are hard to clean, so they aren’t the best choice when choosing baby food on a plane
- Round and hard foods are known to be a choking hazard. It’s best to be careful with these if your little one can’t yet chew very well. Typical examples are grapes, raisins, marshmallows, popcorn, and nuts
- Take extra care not to pack something your kid is known to be allergic to in a hurry. Allergic reactions can be life-threatening, and even moderate reactions can’t be adequately treated on an airplane
Tips and Strategies to Help With Packing Food for Airplane Travel
Preparation is essential when packing foods for your baby and making it easier to get through security.
Take Extra Baby Food on Plane
While planning for your trip, think about how long you’ll be traveling/flying and consider how much food your baby would typically eat during that time. Then, add in a few extra meals worth of food to account for delays or other setbacks during your trip.
If you have a toddler, consider packing a few additional snacks that could help keep him or her happy on the plane or distracted during a long layover.
If you breastfeed your baby and pump at home, you may want to try to pump a little extra before leaving. Freeze the milk to bring with you. This way, you’ll have a little extra in case it feels too tight to breastfeed on the plane or you need your partner to step in and help with feeding.
Don’t Forget the Water
Don’t forget to pack some extra water for your baby or toddler. You’ll need water to mix with the powder if you make formula. And even if your baby or toddler doesn’t drink formula, having some extra water while traveling is always a good idea.
Take Advantage of Novel Baby Food Containers
Once you’ve planned out what foods you need to bring and the quantities for each food, the next step is to think about packing and organizing everything you need. Below are a few suggestions for containers and other supplies that can help you out. I’ve also covered the top more thoroughly in another article about alternatives to Ziploc bags.
For Breast milk-Fed Babies
Breastmilk storage bags like this can help you easily bring pumped and frozen milk to have ready for your baby when you’re traveling. The reinforced seams and double zipper seal will help ensure your milk doesn’t leak into your bag.
For Formula-fed Babies
Mixing formula when on the go will be much easier with a dispenser like this one. It has five compartments that will each hold enough food for one feeding. The funnel top helps ensure that the formula makes it neatly into the bottle to limit messes.
For Toddlers and Older Babies
These collapsible snack cups are a must-have when traveling with toddlers. They won’t take up much space in your bag when collapsed down but will open up to create a perfect cup for holding a snack. Plus, the spill-proof design will keep your little one from making a huge mess.
If you like to purée your own baby food or want a less messy way to feed your little one yogurt on the plane, these reusable silicone baby food pouches are a great pick. They are made from 100% food-grade silicone, so you can feel confident that they’re safe for your baby. Plus, they are reusable, so you can wash them out when you get to your destination to use again.
A bento box will make it easy to pack a few different kinds of food for your trip. The smaller compartments are perfect for holding toddler-size portions, too!
Bring along a few of these reusable storage bags to hold some of your toddler’s snack items, such as pretzels, crackers, or cucumber sticks. Don’t forget to pack a few extra empty bags in your carry-on – you never know when you’ll need them! These are a much more economical and environmentally-friendly option than single-use plastic bags.
You can Find Options for Cooling and Organization
If you need to pack breast milk or other food that needs to stay cool, you’ll want to put a few ice packs in your bag. The slim design makes them an excellent choice for packing along in your carry-on.
If you haven’t already reached your maximum allowed number of carry-on bags, you could also consider bringing a cooler or a cooler backpack, like this one. The insulated interior will help ensure your breast milk and other perishable items stay cold, even throughout a long day of travel.
Preparing Baby Food While in an Airplane
I already talked about snacks and premade options before. And many airlines keep a small stock of baby foods on a plane in case of emergency.
This said, if the travel time is long, you may want to prepare something more substantial for your baby or toddler. As a bonus, it helps the time to go by faster.
Preparing baby food in the tight seats on an airplane may feel like an impossibility. However, it is definitely doable if you have the right tools and a plan.
Here are a few baby food on plane preparing ideas to help:
- If your baby is formula-fed, using a dispenser, like the one shared above, can help you get the food into the bottles without making a mess
- A portable bottle warmer (also sold on Amazon) may be worth bringing if your little one is particular about the temperature of their breastmilk or formula. Some models can also be used to heat up homemade baby food
- For babies who are eating solid foods, pack foods that don’t need to be cooked but that can easily be mashed up to get soft and ready for a baby to eat. Some examples of foods like this include bananas, berries, and avocados
- Rice cereal is another good food to bring for younger babies who are just starting solids. It can be packed in an airtight container and mixed with breastmilk, formula, or water when you’re ready to serve it to your baby
- Consider bringing a portable travel blender (also sold on Amazon) with you. It can help you purée food in the airport, or even on the plane, for your baby or toddler
Additional Must-Haves When Traveling with a Baby
In addition to all the items you’ll need for feeding when traveling with a baby, here are a few other things you shouldn’t forget to pack in your carry-on bag:
- Diapers (pack more than you think you’ll need)
- Changing pad
- Diaper cream (make sure it is less than 3.4 ounces and in your toiletries quart-size bag)
- Baby blankets
- A few changes of clothes for the baby
- A change of clothes for you
- Small toys for entertainment
- Empty bags for trash, diapers, or soiled clothes
- Any needed medications
- Travel stroller
- Wrap or baby carrier
Tips for Safely Feeding Babies When Flying
Feeding a baby can be more difficult when you’re away from home. This can be especially true when you’re in the confined space of an airplane seat or darting around the airport trying to catch your flight.
You want to make sure that you aren’t endangering your little one or making it more likely for him or her to choke.
Here are a few tips that can help you make sure your baby gets the needed food while also staying safe:
- As I’ve mentioned before (sorry for repeating myself), it’s safest to avoid round hard foods when traveling with babies and young toddlers
- Make sure your baby or toddler is sitting upright when he or she is eating. Achieving this on a plane can be, of course, problematic as there’s usually very little extra space. If you’re traveling with another adult, it’s easier for one of you to hold the baby and the other to feed him or her
- Always make sure you can see your child’s face while he or she is eating. Again, it’s not always as easy as it sounds when feeding your little one in a tiny economy class seat. This said it’s quite important for making sure your little one isn’t putting too much food in his mouth that she is at risk of choking
- Have your toddlers sit in their strollers and feed them on the stroller tray when waiting at the airport before flying or during a layover. This will keep them in an upright position and contain their food. However, resist the temptation to do that when you’re pushing the stroller and walking through the airport, as you won’t be able to make sure they’re eating safely
Additional tips about traveling and baby food on plane:
- Breastfeed or give a bottle during takeoff and landing (if the flight attendants allow). The motion of sucking on the bottle will help prevent your baby’s ears from popping. This will lessen the chances of your baby getting uncomfortably and fussy during the flight
- Be ready for a mess. Feeding a baby or toddler at home is messy enough, but feeding them on the go can be even messier. Bring lots of bibs, napkins, and extra towels or burp cloths. If you have a toddler, you may also want to bring a few disposable placemats or reusable placemats as well
To sum up
Thinking about packing all the food you need for your baby when traveling on an airplane can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, TSA regulations make exceptions for parents traveling with babies and toddlers, so you’ll be able to bring everything you need with you. Hopefully, you found some helpful tips and suggestions to keep everything organized and ready when it’s needed.
Thanks for reading!
P.S If you’re interested in the best baby food makers, then click here for my full guide