What to Know About Traveling with Infant Formula

baby bottle baby toy and scoop of formula on a table

Read time: 4 minutes

What should I know about preparing and storing formula while on-the-go?

  • How to safely travel with formula for short and long trips by car
  • What to know about bringing formula to a daycare setting
  • Learn the ins and outs of traveling by airplane with formula

As you feel more comfortable bringing your little one out into the world, being prepared for feedings is likely top of mind. How much formula should you leave with daycare or a babysitter? If you are travelling, what are the rules for bringing formula on planes?

Read on to learn more about formula preparation and storage when leaving home with your baby.

How do I manage formula feeding when I am out of the house with my baby?

Whether it’s running to the grocery store or going to Grandma’s, the next feeding seems to be just around the corner.

For short trips: Prepare bottles and keep in a cooler bag with ice packs

If it’s a short trip, pack your prepared formula in a cooler or insulated bag with lots of ice packs. This can be done with prepared powdered, concentrate, or ready-to-feed formulas.

Prepared formula can be stored within a cooler bag with ice packs for as long as the temperature inside remains cold enough. Usually this is no longer than 2 hours.1, 2

For longer trips: Bring infant formula and water separately

If you will be traveling for longer than 2 hours, consider bringing water and formula powder or concentrate separately and preparing feeds as you need them. This will help keep the formula safe for your baby.1

Many parents purchase formula dispensers with sections that you can pre-measure the correct number of scoops needed per bottle. If you don’t have access to a formula dispenser, feel free to use any container that is clean and sanitized.

For convenience, pre-measure the formula or concentrate you need. Pair this with a few bottles of pre-measured water, and you are ready for your outing.

We know bringing your little one out and about can be intimidating; chat now for free with one of our Happy Baby Experts, who are registered dietitians and infant feeding experts. They’re here to help on our live chat from Monday – Friday 8am-8pm (EST), and Saturday – Sunday 8am-4pm (EST). Chat Now!

How should I send formula to daycare or with a sitter?

Whether you are going back to work or want a night out, you may be wondering how much formula to leave and in what form.

How to prepare formula for the nanny or babysitter

If it’s a nanny, babysitter, or family member, they may be willing to just be given some sanitized bottles, a container of formula, and preparation instructions – and they are good to go. You can also pre-make all the bottles your little one may need ahead of time and refrigerate them until needed. Prepared infant formula can be kept refrigerated for up to 24 hours.3

Read more: Everything You Need to Know about Formula Preparation and Storage

How to send in formula to daycare

Some daycare facilities provide an iron-fortified infant formula, but many have you provide your own.4 If you will be bringing your own, ask the daycare if they prefer formula already prepared or if they are willing to mix it. Some daycare facilities require parents to pre-mix all formula bottles.

To help your daycare maintain order and safety, label all the bottles with your baby’s name and the date the formula was prepared.4 Note that many daycares will not give formula to your baby that was brought in the day before.

As long as it’s a short trip (an hour or less) to daycare, and the bottles will be put straight into the fridge once at the facility, the prepared formula bottles will be safe without an insulated bag and ice pack.3

Chat with your daycare ahead of time so you are aware of all their policies and procedures.  

Read more: Formula Preparation: What Type of Water Should I Use?[RG1] 

How much formula does my baby need while I’m away?

To know how much formula to send into daycare or leave with the babysitter, take note of how much formula your baby drinks in the time period they will be away from you. Pack that amount, and perhaps a bit more in the case of extra hunger or spills.

Read more: How Much Formula Does Your Baby Need?

How do I travel by airplane with infant formula?

If traveling by air, a “reasonable” amount of prepared formula is allowed through security, per the TSA website.

Here are the steps you will be asked to follow if bringing infant formula on the plane:

  • Remove the formula items from your carry on to be screened separately
  • Let the TSA officer know that you have formula in larger amounts than 3.4 ounces
  • The TSA may need to test the formula for prohibited items (by pouring a very small amount out). If you do not want the formula bottle to be opened, let the TSA know and additional screening procedures may be needed.
  • You are allowed to bring ice packs or frozen gel packs, and a cooler or insulated bag. The ice packs may need additional screening if they are partially frozen or slushy.5

Plan ahead by locating stores at your destination that carry your brand of formula, just in case. 

Organizing plane travel or even just leaving home for a bit with your little one can be stressful, but with a bit of preparation you’ll be able to meet baby’s feeding needs with ease.

Let’s Chat!

We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.

Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too! They’re here to offer personalized support on our free, one-on-one, live chat platform Monday – Friday 8am-8pm (EST), and Saturday – Sunday 8am-4pm (EST). No appointment needed, no email or sign-up required. Chat Now!

Read more about the experts that help write our content!

For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

Everything You Need to Know about How to Prep Formula

Should I Feed My Baby on Demand or on a Schedule?

Should I Switch Baby Formulas?

Does Your Baby Need a Sensitive Formula?


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