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Flying with Baby Formula: My Best Tips After 100+ Flights

Many claim that baby formula adds a new level of stress to travel, as you cannot just whip out a boob and feed your baby whenever. Don’t stress or worry, as many new moms like to exaggerate. Flying with baby formula isn’t that complicated.

My babies were formula fed and I traveled with them every other week. I often flew alone and took numerous international flights between 8-16 hours long when both infants were formula fed.

If you prepare and know the rules, it’s pretty easy to travel with baby formula. Let’s answer all your questions about traveling with baby formula, and introduce you to useful gadgets, and tips on formula feeding abroad as well.

How to Travel with Baby Formula

Let’s dive into the most important question: Should you bring the formula with you on your trip? No matter what, your baby will need to eat during your flight, so you need to have at least some formula with you in a diaper bag.

You can opt for buying formula abroad (I’ll discuss this further down), but you need to assume that your flight might be delayed, you might not find a spot to buy it instantly, and so on.

Very few international airports have fully stocked pharmacies where you can purchase baby formula and even if they do, they don’t operate 24/7 either. Always have a formula for at least 24 hours ahead.

Feeding infant on a plane

How Much Powdered Formula Can You Bring on a Plane?

There are no limits to how much formula you can bring on a plane, as long as it’s a “reasonable amount”. Even a full can of formula is considered reasonable, so don’t worry.

You can also bring formula cans in checked luggage. When my kids were babies we actually brought a suitcase full of formula back from Mexico as we prefer European formula that’s not available in the US.

Can you bring formula if you’re traveling without a baby? Yes, you can as long as it’s in a powdered and not liquid.

Just remember: if you’re bringing formula in your carry-on: powder substances greater than 12 oz. / 350 mL (along with water for baby) must be placed in a separate bin for X-ray screening. TSA will open your liquids to test them, but they don’t contaminate them.

Does TSA allow water for baby formula or liquid formula?

In the US you can bring your water for formula, or liquid formula or milk through airport security. You can also bring water or juice for a toddler, it doesn’t need to be strictly for formula.

Be sure to let the officer know before you go through security that you have liquids in excess of 100ml/3oz for your baby, as they need to go into a separate special bin and be extra screened. Usually, the agents unscrew the top for a vapor test, as they are not allowed to stick anything into the liquid.

If you’re in a rush I recommend not bringing a pre-mixed formula through TSA and just buy a bottle of water for formula once you’ve passed security. You can ask any Starbucks or restaurant to fill your thermos with hot water.

The amount of liquid you can bring that’s considered reasonable is left up to the TSA officer. I’ve seen plenty of people being questioned about their milk, so save this page on your phone in case you need to show the officers that you’re within your rights. That’s in the US though.

Outside of the USA rules seem to vary, but the general rule of thumb is when flying with baby formula you can bring enough liquids for a baby under 12 months of age.

Over 12 months it sadly depends on the mood of the officer, but I can assure you that if you’re flying from London Heathrow Airport or Stockholm Arlanda Airport your liquids will be thrown away, often with the bottle or sippy cup itself which is terrible, so keep this in mind.

IMPORTANT: When flying with baby formula or breastmilk, TSA recommends that formula and breast milk be transported in clear, translucent bottles and not plastic bags or pouches. You might have heard that officers “destroyed” a lot of breastmilk pouches when the mother was traveling without her baby. This wouldn’t have happened if the milk was packed according to their guidelines.

How do you keep formula warm when traveling?

Many will tell you to feed your baby with room-temperature formula. It’s a great tip, as you don’t need to warm anything up.

I’m always very much into making things easy, but let me tell you: this worked just fine with my second child, but never with my first. Unless the formula was warmed up he wouldn’t drink it.

We know that formula shouldn’t be reheated after a few hours, especially not at room temperature, so your best bet is to keep the formula and water separate until you need to feed your baby.

In order to warm your water you can either use a bottle warmer or bring a thermos with hot water. You can get anywhere at the airport (just ask for hot water for the baby) or even on the plane (ask the flight attendant to fill your thermos).

Best Items for Flying with Baby Formula

Powder Formula Dispensers

These handy containers are perfect for any on-the-go parent for trips outside, but are extra useful when traveling. You don’t need to think about anything because you can pre-measure it.

Bottle Brush

I made the mistake of not bringing a bottle brush a few times. Bottles will need a good scrub after usage.

My tip for washing bottles at the airport and in-flight is to use water from the sink to rinse it a few times first. Then, wipe the bottle down with paper towels. Afterward, either ask a flight attendant or nearby Starbucks to give you hot water and rinse your bottle with hot water.

Your bottle won’t be 1000% disinfected and clean, but it’s the practical and realistic way of cleaning the bottles on the go.

Some people bring sterilizing bags, but you only need to sterilize bottles before their first use (and this can be done in an old-fashioned way by cooking them in a big pot) and perhaps periodically after.

If you don’t sterilize your bottles while traveling you will be all right, unless your baby is immunocompromised, premature, and under 2 months old.

Plus, these bags require a microwave, and many hotel rooms never have it unless it’s a suite with a kitchenette.


A bottle warmer is a useful gadget, but not a must. You can simply get an old-fashioned thermos. It’s easy to ask for hot water even on a plane or any cafe at the airport.

Heating up baby formula when traveling
You can heat up some water in a kettle and put baby jars or water in it, to warm it up.

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