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TSA Breakdown: Baby Liquids and Foods

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

There are many challenges to traveling with your babies and one of the biggest is navigating airport security with the many items that Baby needs. Especially when these needs involve food & liquids.


Add the fact that Airports and TSA agents largely operate on their own with their own little quirks. Every single time we fly, something goes a little bit differently than what is expected.


Sometimes TSA screens your formula and sometimes they don’t.


Sometimes TSA asks you to remove everything from your bag before you go through and sometimes they don’t.


Sometimes TSA wants you to hold the baby out of the carrier when going through the metal detector and sometimes they don’t.


You get the gist.


However, understanding what the stated policies are when it comes to baby liquids and food items is going to give you the best chance at having a smooth trip from the very beginning and you'll be able to kindly remind any mistaken TSA agents of what you can bring with you.



Baby Formula/Breast Milk/Cow’s Milk


Formula, Milk (both breast milk and cow’s milk), and juice for infants or toddlers are permitted in reasonable quantities through the security checkpoint. Remove these items from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings.


Inform the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process that you carry formula, milk and juice in excess of 3.4 ounces in your carry-on bag. These liquids are typically screened by X-ray.


Screening Formula, Milk and Juice


TSA officers may need to test liquids for explosives or concealed prohibited items. Officers may ask you to open the container and/or have you transfer a small quantity of the liquid to a separate empty container or dispose of a small quantity, if feasible.


Inform the TSA officer if you do not want the formula, milk and/or juice to be X-rayed or opened. Additional steps will be taken to clear the liquid and you or the traveling guardian will undergo additional screening procedures, to include a pat-down and screening of other carry-on property.


The Food and Drug Administration states that there are no known adverse effects from eating food, drinking beverages and using medicine screened by X-ray.


3-1-1 Liquids Rule Exemption


Formula, milk, and juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag. Remove these items from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. You do not need to travel with your child to bring breast milk. Breast milk and formula are considered medically necessary liquids. This also applies to breast milk pumping equipment (regardless of presence of breast milk).


Packing your Milk


Here are the choices you might consider when you need to travel with your babies and milk.

  • For shorter trips, cold milk in a thermos or insulated bottle. We love to use the Ceres Chill Thermos (Discount applied in link - TWB15 for 15% off)

  • Shelf stable milk (especially for toddler milk options) - Be aware that carrying shelf stable milk will sometimes result in enhanced security at the hands of TSA. Because TSA cannot open the sealed milk boxes (because they’d spoil), some agents insist on subjecting you to a pat down. It’s no fun, but I have just accepted that this will happen sometimes.

  • Cooler bag with freezer packs - see details below


Water for Formula


Water to be used with formula is allowed in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag. Remove these items from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. Inform the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process that you carry water designated for your child’s formula.


Cooler Bags


Bringing a cooler is great option for those wanting to travel with breast milk, frozen or cold. TSA does not have any restrictions for coolers. Instead, each airline regulates the baggage policy for coolers, some allowing them in addition to your carry on luggage and others want them to be a part of your baggage allowance.


Find more details on each US based airline's policy here.


Ice Packs/Freezer Packs


Ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk and juice – regardless of the presence of breast milk —are allowed in carry-on. If these accessories are partially frozen or slushy, they are subject to additional screening measures.


Dry Ice


The FAA limits you to 5.5 pounds of dry ice that is properly packaged (the package should be vented) and marked. Specific airline approval is required.


Baby Food


You may bring gel or liquid-filled teethers, canned, jarred and processed baby food in carry-on baggage. These items are allowed in reasonable quantities in carry-on bags. Remove these items from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings.


Snacks (Solid)


Solid foods in their many forms are allowed in carry-on baggage. TSA officers may instruct travelers to separate items from carry-on bags such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct clear images on the X-ray machine. Travelers are encouraged to organize their carry-on bags and keep them uncluttered to ease the screening process and keep the lines moving.


Snacks (Liquid/Puree Based)


Baby food of the liquid/puree variety is allowed in reasonable quantities in carry-on bags. Remove these items from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. For children over the age of two, you may only carry in quantities of less than or equal to 3.4oz/100 ml.


Examples of this type of snack may be peanut butter, yogurt, hummus, and creamy cheeses.


TSA officers may instruct travelers to separate items from carry-on bags such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct clear images on the X-ray machine. Travelers are encouraged to organize their carry-on bags and keep them uncluttered to ease the screening process and keep the lines moving.



For more information or details on specific items, visit TSA’s website.


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