Airport Security

security with kidsTraveling with your baby can be difficult but being prepared will help ease the stress of the journey and let you focus on the destination.  Getting through the airport security checkpoint with a baby or toddler requires some extra effort but knowing what to expect and being prepared will make the process much easier for you and for the TSA officer.  Here are some of the current requirements and regulations you will face and some tips to make sure you are prepared before you get into the security line.

Prepare before you leave home:

Diaper bag

Sometimes our diaper bag becomes a hodge-podge of the last 3 months worth of outings.  Now might be a good time to clean it out and make sure you comply with the TSA rules before you get to the airport.  The following are some common items that must be in containers marked 3.4 ounces or less(not a half-empty tube that says 6 ounces), and placed in a 1-quart zip top clear plastic bag:

  • Diaper rash cream
  • Liquid medication – non-prescription (Tylenol, Motrin, etc.)
  • Teething gel pain reliever
  • Gel-filled teething toys
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lotion
  • Sunscreen

Baby’s food/drinks

You are allowed to bring baby formula, breast milk, baby food, juice, and prescription medication in quantities over 3 ounces.  It must be a reasonable amount for the length of your flight however and the TSA officer may test it for explosives if they feel it is necessary.  There is no definition of “reasonable” so bringing a gallon of apple juice probably isn’t advisable but a sippy cup or two full should be fine.

What’s allowed to be over 3.4 ounces and should not be in a plastic bag:

  • Pre-mixed formula  - powdered formula is exempt from the rule but you cannot bring ANY water through the checkpoint.  You can purchase bottled water once on the other side and carry it onto the aircraft.  Remember that formula typically is only good for about an hour once it’s mixed and un-refrigerated, so purchasing a bottle of water to mix the powder is probably your best option.
  • Breast milk - is allowed whether you are traveling with or without your child. There is a debate on whether or not ice packs are allowed. In some cases they have been but it is not recommended to bring the gel-filled kind if you have hopes of bringing it through security.
  • Baby food – jarred, processed, canned, etc. but only in a reasonable quantity. Again, there is no definition of reasonable, so it’s subject to the officer’s judgment.  It’s not advisable to try to carry on all the food for an entire week-long trip, but you may place jarred food in your checked baggage.  Items like whole unpeeled bananas are not subject to the rule and can be mashed up once in flight, but items like sealed yogurt containers may be confiscated.  It’s best to purchase questionable semi-liquid items like yogurt after the security checkpoint.
  • Drinks – It may be easier to travel through security with drinks already in a couple sippy cups rather than in the original container.  Items requiring ice packs, such as milk, may not be worth the hassle of bringing.  The ice packs may be confiscated and typically milk is available for purchase past the checkpoint and sometimes onboard the aircraft.  If you do bring ice packs, try to avoid the gel-filled kind.

When packing these items into your diaper bag, take care that they are on the top of the bag and can be easily accessed and removed for the security screening.  Be sure to verbally declare to the officer prior to screening if you have items over 3 ounces and remove them from your diaper bag or carry on and place them separately in the bin.

Getting baby’s gear through security:

You will be required to have ALL of your items scanned or screened once you get to the security checkpoint.  This includes:

  • Baby’s shoes (remove them and place in the bin)
  • Car seat (remove baby from the car seat and send through machine if it will fit)
  • Stroller (fold and send through the machine or ask for it to be hand checked)
  • Front carrier or back pack carrier (remove baby and send it through machine if it will fit)
  • Diaper bag (remove pre-packed 1-quart bag with your 3 ounce items and remove your baby food/drinks over 3 ounces and declare separately)
  • Carry your child through the checkpoint if they are not able to walk on their own. Do not pass them to any person before or after you, or to the TSA officer.
  • Ask an officer to help you collect your gear as it comes out of the machine

This is not meant to be a fully comprehensive list but are merely some tips to help you make it through the security line with your child and get you on to your destination.  This article was not written by or verified by the TSA and is a guideline for US flights only.