Flying With Baby Food and Milk
Questions about the rules for flying with baby food and milk are among the biggest concerns for
parents traveling with young children. Regulations have tightened considerably over recent years and
you’ll hear all sorts of horror stories about baby food and formula being confiscated at security.
Here we help you establish just how the rules affect YOU – and how to avoid running into problems
at the airport.
Please note that, whilst the information given here is intended to be as accurate as possible, the
final decision about what you may bring through airport security rests solely with the airport
The guidelines we refer to on this page were originally established in the USA, but have
now been adopted globally. Please bear in mind, though, that there may be some local
differences and it’s a good idea to check with the airports/airlines you’ll be flying
with for specific advice. You’ll find some useful links at the end of this page.
What are the current rules about packing liquids, gels and aerosols in cabin baggage?
If you plan to take liquids, gels and aerosols in your hand luggage (and this includes diaper/nappy
cream), then they need to be in containers NO LARGER than 3oz (100ml).
This means that you can’t carry, for example, 3oz of diaper cream in a 6oz container. The
container itself must be less than 3oz (100ml).
You must then put your 3oz containers into a transparent, zip-top bag no larger than 1 quart (or
1 litre) and seal the top.
You are not allowed to use any other type of bag – and your 3oz containers must fit comfortably
into it. You are only allowed to bring 1 zip-top bag per person – so, if you have too many 3oz
containers for one zip-top bag, then you must pack some into your checked bags or they will be
taken from you at security.
Please note that – contrary to popular belief – the 3oz containers themselves do NOT need to be
transparent. The zip-top bag, on the other hand, MUST be transparent.
When you get to airport security, you need to remove the zip-top bag from your hand luggage
and present it for screening separately. Remember – the zip-top bag MUST be sealed.
Can I take baby food and formula on an airplane? Do these need to be in 3oz containers, too?
No – baby food and milk are exempt from the rules affecting other liquids and gels…
You are allowed to bring enough baby food for the flight, although ‘reasonable amounts’ are not
actually specified anywhere. There have been
occasions where airport security staff have deemed
the amount of baby food that parents have attempted to bring through security as excessive – and
it is the final decision of the security staff as to the amount that is allowed.
So, tempting as it may be, don’t go overboard with the amount of baby food that you pack in your
hand baggage. In fact, the best option is to bring on foods like whole
avocados or bananas that you can just open
and mash up once you’re on the aircraft – they are not subject to the rules affecting liquids
DON’T put any quantity of baby food over 3oz (100ml) in your zip-top bag. Instead, you need to
present this separately to security staff and declare that you have it. If you try to put
it through the scanner without declaring it, then it may be taken away from you.
You need to declare all jarred, canned (tinned) and liquid baby food, although powdered baby food
is exempt from this rule.
You are usually expected to have your baby with you when presenting baby food for
inspection – so don’t send hubby off to go through security ahead of you, if he’s the one
carrying the baby supplies and you’re the one carrying the baby!
Formula and juice
The same rules that apply to taking baby food on an airplane also apply to formula and juice, in
that you may bring as much as you need for the journey, but you MUST declare it to security
staff and present it for inspection (with your baby present).
There was a time when parents were being asked to taste everything they brought through
security for their babies, but this is rarely the case now.
Can I carry on powdered formula and water to mix on board the airplane?
Whilst there are no restrictions on the amount of powdered formula brought through airport
security or on to the aircraft, water is a very different matter.
Although we know of parents who HAVE been allowed to take through bottles of water to mix with
formula, we also know of many occasions where water has been taken away.
The best option is to buy bottled water from the stores AFTER the security point, or to ask for
water on board the airplane.
Breast milk, too, may be brought on to an airplane, in reasonable quantities and following
the rules for presentation at security points as described above.
Regulations have changed recently – and now a mother traveling without her child
is allowed to bring breast milk on to an airplane, as long as it is declared and presented for inspection
Can I use ice packs on an airplane to keep baby food and milk cool?
There are no specific guidelines about the use of ice packs – however, many of them are gel-filled
and are often confiscated at security for this reason.
Our advice is to make your own ice pack by filling a zip-top bag with ice cubes – and
to take a spare zip-top bag with you. Throw your homemade ice pack away before you go
through security, then ask for ice at stores on the OTHER side of security once you’ve gone
through and fill your spare bag.
For short flights, it may be sufficient just to use the ice BEFORE security if you bring
frozen baby food cubes. These take about an hour or two to thaw at room temperature.
We have friends who actually use a bag of frozen veggies as an ice pack, since this doesn’t
qualify as a liquid or gel and is, therefore, exempt from restrictions. Although they
have traveled several times with their baby using this method, we can’t guarantee that frozen
veggies will be allowed through security!
What about flying with medicine for my baby?
Non-prescription medicines for your baby must be in 3oz (100ml) containers within your
1 quart (1 litre) zip-top bag (in the same way as other liquids). Larger quantities of prescription
medicines are allowed through security, but you must declare them and present them at security
for inspection, along with a doctor’s letter for verification.
We all respect and understand the importance of thorough screening at the airport – but, as
parents, it can be very traumatic if what we see as essential baby items are taken away from us.
We strongly recommend printing out the government guidelines for the airports you’ll be
traveling through and taking them with you when you fly – just in case you have followed
the regulations but still experience problems at the airport.
Please contact us here and share your experience of flying with baby food
(be sure to include the name/country of the airport or airline involved).
This information is invaluable for other parents and they (and we) greatly appreciate your taking the time to share it with us.
Warning from Jenni, US, regarding Oakland International Airport
We purchased a sealed 6 oz. container of Dannon yogurt for our son to
eat on the plane before we went through security, and they confiscated it –
even though it was sealed!
My experience with SNA/John Wayne Airport, Orange County, CA from KT, US
I was away for 5 days on business and pumped the entire time. I took extra care to make sure
milk was properly stored…
Flying With Baby – Istanbul International, Turkey
The security staff screening people for the NY, JFK airport flight tried to separate me from my 5 week old son…
Other tips for going through airport security with a baby
- Get there with plenty of time to spare – EVERYTHING takes
longer with a little one in tow!
- Be prepared to take your baby out of his carrier or stroller for screening. You
will not be separated from your baby during screening – nor should you pass him
to anyone behind or in front of you during the screening process. Don’t try to
pass him to security staff, either!
- Be prepared to put all your baby equipment through the x-ray machine
(this includes blankets, toys and diaper bags). If they will fit, larger items
like strollers, car/booster seats, carriers, slings and backpacks must
go through, too (so be sure to collapse or fold them as you reach the security
point). Large items that will not fit through the xray machine will be inspected visually
by security staff.
- Transportation Security Administration (US) – Traveling with Children
- Hand Luggage Restrictions at UK Airports
- Australian Governement – Aviation Security
- Canadian Air Transport security Authority
- EU Aviation FAQ
- Wikipedia’s comprehensive list of worldwide airlines (with contact information)
Links on our site