When it comes to feeding or nursing a baby on a plane, you need to ask yourself one question: will your baby be breast fed or bottle fed on your trip? It doesn’t matter if there is formula or breastmilk in the bottle, but you do need to know how you will be responding to those hunger cues.
Bottle feeding a baby on a plane was so much easier for me than breastfeeding on a plane. I wanted to give my boys the best milk possible. However, I was a clumsy breastfeeder, got drenched during every feeding session, and in the end had trouble with with my milk supply after a few month with each boy.
Not exactly a confidence booster, right? And as a frequent traveler, I needed to figure out a solution
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It’s OK to bottle feed a baby
Being a full-time working mother when my oldest son was a baby also meant bottle feedings were just part of our lives, no matter what form of liquid was in them. My husband could also take part in feedings, not something he could be a part of when our boys were solely breastfed babies.
Having lived on both sides of the baby milk debate, I’ve pulled together a a few tips on how to bottle feed a baby on a plane that will get you up into the friendly skies and off on your next adventure.
Don’t worry if you are bottle feeding formula or breastmilk. We are covering both.
So, sit back, find that perfect crook in your arm that your baby (even older babies) love, and while holding the bottle with one hand like a pro, let’s dive into how you are going to do this on the plane.
It’s not so much different from what you do at feeding time when home.
Unlike your breastfeeding counterparts, you will need to pack a little more for your bottle feeding baby. Cover ups don’t need to be in your wardrobe, but bottles and formula, or chilled breast milk do.
Bring enough clean bottles to last your flight plus two more in case of delays. Washing a bottle in an airplane bathroom is just plain gross, and not recommended.
Good rule to follow: If you can’t drink the water, don’t wash your baby’s bottle with the water. That bottle nipple has direct contact with the most precious thing in your life.
Pack enough baby formula or breastmilk for your flight plus one day.
Similac and Enfamil make handy 4 oz. packets already pre-measured.
I also swore by my powdered baby formula dispenser when traveling with my kids. You could measure out up to 8oz per slot and have it ready to go the second you need it.
It also saves on plastic waste from the single serve packets.
Do yourself a favor– if at all possible just buy a bottle of water (or fill up a reusable water bottle at the water fountain) when you get through security. Don’t try to bring a full water bottle through TSA security. The hassle isn’t worth it.
Ask one of the shops if they have any room temperature water so you don’t have to worry about a chilled bottle for your finicky baby.
While travel bottle warmers do exist, that’s just one more thing you have to pack. And I also have a great trick to get the perfect temperature milk for your baby… so read on.
Babies burp and spit up, especially when bottle feeding a baby on a plane. That’s part of life. Never, ever forget your burp cloth.
I always preferred to use the old-fashion prefolded cloth diapers as burp clothes, because they soaked up so much more than the other burp clothes on the market.
PREParing to Bottle Feed A Baby
If your baby likes a warm bottle, here’s a great bottle feeding tip– ask the flight attendant for a half a cup of hot water to mix in with your bottle of room temperature water. Add the hot water a little a time until you get to the perfect temperature.
Be very careful and test the baby bottle first before you add the formula. The hot water planes make for their tea is VERY hot. You may only need a tiny bit to get it to the perfect temperature for your baby’s bottle.
If you plan to carry breast milk onto the plane to feed your baby you will need a way to keep it cool and then warm it back up.
It’s not as complicated as you may think, but you do need to know a few things before you take off.
How to bring a Cooler on a Plane
Bring a small lunch bag cooler to store your breast milk. Add a plastic bag filled with frozen grapes from home to act as an ice pack, and bring extra plastic bags to fill with ice in the airport and on the plane.
You are allowed to bring an ice pack with you on a plane in the USA to keep milk cool, however, this can delay you as you go through security.
NOTE: Always double check TSA rules before you fly as they do change often.
If you can bring frozen breast milk with you for later in your flight it will slowly thaw as you travel, leaving it ready for baby when you need it.
Warming a bottle
If you have breast milk that needs to be heated up, ask your flight attendant for a half-cup of hot water. Stick your bottle or pouch into the cup to thaw or warm up your breast milk.
Double check the temperature before you give the milk to your baby to make sure it is not too hot. Bottle feeding a baby a hot bottle is dangerous in the air, just as it is at home.
Best Bottle Feeding Location
The beauty of the bottle is that you can bottle feed a baby virtually anywhere and no one will blink an eye.
You don’t have to worry about your top or getting your baby tucked under a nursing cover up. Simply mix your baby bottle, get your baby in the his or her preferred bottle feeding position, and pop the bottle in baby’s mouth.
I still prefer an aisle seat whenever traveling with my boys just for the ease of access to my bags, and the extra elbows space to dig through my bag for what I need.
Window seats will give you an added spot to prop yourself up and a pretty view to bottle feed baby though.
Your RightS to Feed Your Baby
Here in the USA you are allowed to carry breast milk onto a plane. Don’t go overboard, just bring what you will need for the flight and any delays that may occur. The important thing to know is that TSA cannot stop you.
If you are stopped or told you can’t bring through breast milk, ask for a manager or superior officer.
According to TSA.gov in the past, “When carrying breast milk through security checkpoints it is treated in the same manner as liquid medication. Parents flying with, and without, their child(ren) are permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than three ounces as long as it is presented for inspection at the security checkpoint. Additionally, empty bottles and ice packs are permitted under these conditions.”
The latest from TSA makes it even more simple, “Formula, breast milk and juice 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. You do not need to travel with your child to bring breast milk.”
Please note that you will still need to separate your liquids, whether it is breast milk or baby food, just like all of your other carry on liquids.
They can be in greater quantities than 3 oz., but they will still need to be inspected.
Also note: “The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint,” TSA.gov.