How to Travel with Baby Formula (By Plane or In the Car)

Posted by Jane Springston on

Going on vacation with your baby is both exciting and daunting. At this point you’ve likely reached a comfort level caring for your little one and have even mastered outings during the day. Now you’re ready to take on traveling with your baby, but you know there is a lot to consider. And that includes managing all those feedings and what the heck is the best way to travel with baby formula?!

It can seem challenging when you’ve never done it before, but with the right knowledge and a few expert tips, traveling with your little one and her formula doesn’t have to be hard. 

Planning Ahead for Feeding Your Formula-Fed Baby While You Travel

Whether you are heading to your destination by airplane or car, planning ahead is going to make all the difference in making your vacation with your baby a positive experience. We cover many our top suggestions in our article, “Tips for Traveling With Your Baby.”

You’ll want to take extra time to plan out what you need for your baby’s formula feedings. You can utilize the following checklist to ensure you have everything you need:

  • Formula - If you’re traveling domestically, chances are that there will be a store nearby that sells the type of formula you give to your baby. But be sure to do your research ahead of time to ensure this is the case. We recommend bringing more than enough formula along with you anyway, so that you don’t have to be rushing out on your vacation trying to buy more. 
  • Bottles - Once you get to your hotel or destination, you’ll be able to sanitize your baby’s bottles. But until then, you’ll want to have enough to get you through your trip. For example, if you’ll be on a plane, you don’t want to have to worry about cleaning any bottles mid-flight so make sure you bring enough to get you through.
  • Portable Bottle Warmer - A travel bottle warmer is a life-saver when traveling with your baby. It’s going to be difficult to access warm water to make your baby’s formula bottle, so a bottle warmer will do the trick. The Baby’s Brew portable bottle warmer is perfect because it easily fits in a diaper bag and will warm your baby’s formula in advance so it’s ready when they are. 
  • Formula Dispenser - These take the mess out of bottle making while making portioning out your baby’s bottle super simple. We list our favorites in this article!
  • Water - You can’t make a formula bottle without it (unless of course you use ready-to-feed formula). In terms of what water to use for your baby’s bottles, tap water is generally regarded as safe to use, but if you can bring your own sterilized water from home that’s even better. 

Along with what you’ll need to make the bottle, you’ll also want to have what you need to keep your little one clean. Burp cloths and baby wipes are something you’ll want to have on hand. Our checklist works great for both plane and car travel, but these trips will bring different challenges so let’s get into the specifics.

Traveling with Baby Formula By Plane

Because there are so many rules about what you can and can’t take with you on a plane, of course you’re going to be a bit concerned about how you’re going to manage your baby’s formula feedings on the airplane.

Many parents wonder, Can you travel with baby formula on a plane?”

Luckily, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is much less strict about bringing liquids onto a plane that are for babies and young children. 

The rules in regard to formula, breast milk and juice, according to their website, is as follows:

Formula, breast 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.”

The part about “reasonable quantities” can be a bit confusing, but they likely won’t question the amount you have especially if your little one is with you. Just be sure to notify the TSA officer right away that you have formula in your bag that exceeds the typical maximum of 3.4 ounces.

You can also skip putting it through the x-ray machine or tell them you don’t want them to open it, but they will need to use a different method of screening.

Going through security is often stressful enough even without a baby and all of their formula, so it’s important to be relaxed about the process and give yourself plenty of extra time to get through this portion of the travel process. Remember that you aren’t the first parents to pass through security with a little one, so the process should go smoothly.  

Top Tips for Easy Plane Traveling with Formula

So you can rest easy knowing you’ll be able to take your baby’s formula on the plane with you (whether that’s already liquid in a bottle or stored in powdered form), but the next step is navigating bringing it along and giving it to your baby in the easiest way possible.

From avoiding messes to timing those feedings just right, here are our top tips for bringing that formula along as you cruise the friendly skies.

  • Prepare Bottles Ahead - You will already have plenty to worry about as you’re navigating the airport and boarding the plane, so don’t add bottle-making to the list if you don’t have to. According to Kids Health, formula may be prepared up to 24 hours in advance, as long as it's refrigerated. We suggest taking advantage of this and storing your baby’s bottles in a cooler bag. That way when it’s time to warm one up, you just pull a bottle out of the bag.
  • Warm Bottles Ahead - Above we recommended taking along a travel bottle warmer. We suggest using one like the Baby’s Brew where you can begin warming the bottle at the push of a button and that can be warmed well in advance. That way, the minute your baby gets hungry, you’ll have the bottle ready and you can avoid the tears. 
  • Feed Your Baby During Take-Off - We suggest trying to time your baby’s feed with take-off. Even if it’s not technically “meal time” you may try offering your little one a bottle. This can help with plugged ears and make for a peaceful transition into your flight. (And of course cross your fingers that it will soon send them off to dreamland for a good portion of the flight.)

Traveling with Baby Formula By Car

For many, traveling with a baby by car can seem a little less overwhelming. Because they’ve likely been in the car many times before and you don’t have to worry about your baby crying and bothering other passengers, it’s usually a little less stressful. However, car trips often mean more time spent traveling. This means you’ll have to be a bit more strategic about your baby’s bottle feedings.

Even if your baby is old enough to hold their own bottle, it’s not recommended that you feed your baby while the car is moving. According to Hygeia Health, “Bottles become projectiles in the event of the crash,” and “Motion sickness is something to consider.” Therefore, you’ll have to plan out when you’ll need to stop to feed your little one - whether that’s at a rest stop or when your family stops to get a bite to eat. 

Top Tips for Easy Car Travel with Formula

Formula-feeding while road tripping gets easier the more times you do it, especially when you have the right strategies in place to keep your baby happy with a full tummy. 

  1. Prepare Bottles Ahead - This tip we recommended for plane travel works great for car travel as well. Because it’s so important to have clean hands to prepare bottles, it’s just better to have this already done. Pit stops on road trips don’t usually make for the cleanest places anyway. Just be sure you keep the bottles of pre-made formula cold and use them within 24 hours. 
  2. Keep Everything Up Front - There is nothing worse than finally getting on your way and realizing that something you need is in the back of your car. Even though we don’t recommend giving your baby their bottle while the car is moving, we DO suggest getting the bottle prepped ahead of time. Be sure you have access to your baby’s bottles and bottle warmer so that you can start the warming process ahead of time so that it’s ready to go when it’s time to stop. 
  3. Be Ready to Store Used Bottles - Because you probably won’t be able to clean your baby’s bottles until you arrive at your final stop of the day, we suggest having a wet bag to store them in. That way you won’t have bottles cluttering up your car and you can sanitize them later on while easily wiping up your wetbag so it’s ready to use again. 

Formula Feeding When You Arrive

You’ve arrived at your hotel or your final stop and you can finally breathe a sigh of relief!

It definitely feels good to get to this point when you’ve been traveling with a baby all day. At this point you’ll want to get your baby’s bottles all sanitized and ready for the next day. If you have formula bottles that you didn’t use and it’s still within 24 hours, be sure to transfer those to the fridge. (Pro tip: ALWAYS stay somewhere that has a fridge when you have a baby.)

The last thing to do is fill your baby up with one more formula bottle before you all crash into bed...because after all that travel, you will surely be ready for sleep!

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