Can You Bring Baby Formula On A Plane? (Powder vs Liquid TSA Rules)

Last Updated on August 7, 2022

So you want to know how to travel with formula…

How much formula can you take? And how should it be packed when going through the airport security checkpoint?

Let’s find out quickly before your baby needs fed or a nappy needs changed!

TSA Baby Formula Rules

The Transportation Security Administration runs airport security. They decide what you can and can’t take on a plane.

Here’s a screen-grab from their website about flying with formula:

Note the special instructions for bringing baby formula in carry-on luggage.

Here’s the deal. The instructions are a little different for baby formula powder and premixed liquid formula.

Flying With Powered Baby Formula

You can bring powered baby formula on a plane in your carry-on bag or checked bags.

But when packing powdered formula in hand luggage the powders rule applies.

There is no limit to the amount of powdered baby formula you can pack in your carry-on luggage.

But if your powdered can is over 12 oz then remove it from your carry-on bag and place it in a separate tray when going through security so it can undergo additional screening.

It doesn’t matter if your baby’s formula is opened or unopened.

Flying With Liquid Baby Formula Or Water

You can also bring bring premixed liquid formula or water to mix with your powdered formula. The usual 3.4 oz liquids rules does not apply and you don’t need to pack the liquid in your quart sized bag.

The same goes for bringing breast milk in carry-on baggage.

You can also bring formula cooling accessories like ice packs, freezer packs, or frozen gel packs. 

So you can cool formula bottles with an ice pack when traveling. Once you are on the plane you can ask a flight attendant for hot water to get your baby’s meal back up to a temperature they will enjoy.

Your baby does not need to be present when going through security (but it helps). In theory you just need to explain to the TSA officer at the checkpoint that you are bringing the water or liquid formula as a medically necessary liquid for your baby.

When an infant is old enough to walk through security unaided they are no longer considered to be an infant by the TSA and this exception to the usual liquids rules no longer applies.

It’s recommended that you transport any liquid baby formula in a clear translucent bottle to help with the screening process.

Liquids stored in plastic bags or pouches can’t be screened by the bottle liquid scanners so you might be asked to open them.

X-ray machines don’t negatively impact formula or breast milk but if you don’t want the TSA to use them you can ask that they are screened separately the liquid using other methods.

How Much Formula Can You Take On A Plane?

Since medically necessary liquids are exempt from the usual liquids rules there is no limit on how much you can bring.

The same goes for powdered baby formula. There is no limit to how much formula you can take on a plane.

So you won’t have any problems with reasonable quantities in carry on bags.

You airlines carry-on luggage size limits do still apply. So check with your airlines if you are bringing a diaper bag in addition to your carry-on suitcase.

Some low cost airlines don’t permit you to bring two bags into the cabin.

The Verdict

When flying with baby formula or baby food the regular security rules don’t apply.

The TSA is sensible enough to know that parents traveling need to always be able to bottle feed their baby and so baby formula is considered medically necessary.

Quantities greater than 3.4 ounces are permitted for liquid baby formula, and their is no limit on how much powdered baby formula you can bring. You can even bring water for babies too!

Happy flying!

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