Traveling and Flying While Breastfeeding: What to Know

December 11, 2013

[Updated March 15, 2017]

Many new moms have a lot of anxiety surrounding traveling and flying. Maybe you are worrying about other passengers on the plane who might get angry over crying baby, or the thought of hauling your baby and all of their stuff around the airport, or – if you’re a breastfeeding mom – you’re likely worried about the best way to manage traveling while breastfeeding or pumping.

Luckily, with a little extra planning, traveling while breastfeeding or pumping is totally possible. Whether you’re traveling with or without your baby, use these tips to make your trip a smooth one.

Before You Fly

  • Call ahead. Request a fridge in your hotel room and let your airline know your situation. You can ask if they have any specific policies for breastfeeding or pumping moms. You can pump or breastfeed on a plane, but they may also be able to offer special arrangements or recommendations for you.
  • Be prepared. Make sure you have all the parts you need, as well as some extras just in case. It doesn’t hurt to pack a printed copy of the TSA’s official policy on traveling with breast milk. Stock up on on-the-go cleaning supplies, too (Quick Clean Wipes remove breast milk residue without soap and water).
  • Keep it cool. Pack an insulated cooler bag for storing your breast milk on the plane, or check with the flight staff to see if they can refrigerate your milk in-flight. Once you reach your destination, you may consider shipping your breast milk home in dry ice.
  • Wear your baby. If baby is coming along, consider using a sling or wrap. Keeping baby close not only provides comfort in unfamiliar situations, but allows for discreet on-the-go breastfeeding and frees up your hands.

Going through Airport Security

Getting breast milk through airport security can sometimes be inconsistent from one city to another. But that could change with legislation implemented in 2016 that requires consistent training for TSA agents on breast milk guidelines. In the meantime, the following tips can help make going through security smoother:

  • Tell the inspector at the security checkpoint that you are carrying breast milk and present it for inspection.
  • Breast milk is considered liquid medication, so you can carry on more than 3 oz. Frozen ice packs used to cool breast milk are also allowed under this exemption.
  • Security cannot ask you to taste your breast milk, but they can ask you to open bottles. Keep milk in clear storage containers to help make the screening process as smooth as possible.
  • Breast pumps are considered personal items and may be carried on and stowed under your seat, similar to a diaper bag or purse.

Moms – what tips do you have for making traveling while breastfeeding easier? Share in the comments below.

38 thoughts on “Traveling and Flying While Breastfeeding: What to Know

  1. I have travelled many times with ice packs and a week worth of milk, frozen and liquid, and learned the clear containers are a must. As long as they can see the milk (and supplementmental formula) there’s no problem. They will test it and most likely swab your hands though so plan extra time for security.

  2. There is an error in the statement that breast pumps are considered “personal” items. It’s actually medical equipment, so you can take a carry on, a personal item AND the breast pump. I’ve done it several times.

    • Janelle Maddox-Regis says:

      Thank You for clarifying this! I’m traveling tomorrow with my pump and was worried about it being considered my “personal item”.

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