If you’re like most new moms, you’re probably planning to take some breast milk with you on your next trip. You might be wondering how to keep breast milk frozen while traveling?
In this blog post, we will discuss several methods for keeping your breast milk cold and frozen during travel. We’ll also provide tips for packing and transporting your milk safely. So whether you’re flying across the country or just driving to the beach, we’ve got you covered!
Traveling with a baby is no easy feat! Between packing all of your baby’s gear and ensuring that you have everything you need for the trip, it can be a challenge! Check out these baby travel essentials to help make your travels easier!
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Is breast milk allowed on planes?
Yes, passengers are allowed to take breast milk on planes in “reasonable quantities”, according to the TSA. You do NOT need to follow the typical 3.4-ounce rule for breast milk, and it does not need to fit in a quart-sized bag. You can bring as much milk as you need!
Once you get to the security checkpoint, you will need to remove the breast milk from your bag for an additional screening process.
Additionally, you are allowed to bring ice packs to keep the milk cold or frozen. You also do NOT need to have a child with you to travel with breast milk (such as if you are on a personal or business trip without your baby)
How long is breast milk safe in a cooler?
According to the CDC, breast milk is safe for 24 hours in an insulated cooler with ice packs or dry ice. After 24 hours, any expressed milk that has been traveling should be discarded. If you are traveling for longer than 24 hours (for example, internationally or just a long trip with multiple layovers), you’ll want to make sure your baby gets fed the milk within the day.
Drinking milk after this 24-hour timeframe could cause your baby to get an upset stomach, and that’s the last thing you’ll want while traveling!
Traveling with breast milk
If you are planning to fly on an airplane with breast milk, it is important that you plan ahead and pack accordingly. Follow these tips so you can keep your breast milk safe and frozen during your trip:
Determine the length of your trip
According to the CDC, breast milk can be left at room temperature for 4 hours. If your flight and travel time is longer than that, you’ll need to keep it frozen. However, if you pump right before your flight and it is only an hour or two long, you may not need to freeze your breast milk at all!
If you are like most moms, you are probably looking to bring some previously frozen milk from your freezer stash, or are just looking to keep freshly pumped milk cold while you travel. If you need your pumped milk cold or frozen for longer than 4 hours, continue on to the next tip!
Traveling with your baby and other kids as well? Check out these air travel hacks for kids to help make your life a little easier!
Freeze your breastmilk ahead of time
The best way to keep breast milk frozen while traveling is to simply freeze it ahead of time. If you have a stash of frozen milk, you can simply take some with you during your trip. If you are pumping fresh milk, you can freeze it and then take it with you on your trip.
Always be sure to label your breast milk with the date and amount of milk in each bag. This helps you remember which milk was pumped at which date so you can use the older milk first. Additionally, labeling the bags with the amount of milk will help you reduce waste since milk needs to be used within 24 hours after thawing.
I also recommend freezing breast milk in small amounts. For example, instead of freezing one bag of 6 ounces, break it up into bags of 2 ounces. This way, if your little one doesn’t want all 6 ounces, you won’t have to throw the rest away.
Additionally, be sure to freeze your breast milk flat! This makes it so much easier to thaw when you need it, and it is easier to store and stack this way.
These are my absolute favorite breast milk storage bags. I have never experienced any leaks while using them- they are very reliable and durable! I always put my breast milk bags in larger plastic bags or zip lock bags in case of leaks and for easier organization.
Use a quality cooler bag
Regardless of how you are traveling (car or airplane), you will need a good cooler to store your milk in. If you are traveling by airplane, your cooler will need to be small enough to fit underneath the seat in front of you.
Depending on its size, it will count as either your carry on bag or personal item. Make sure to check airline policies regarding this! I recommend this one as it is a great size and has excellent reviews.
If you only need to pack a few bags of breastmilk, you could probably get away with using the insulated pocked in your diaper bag (if you’re bringing one, that is!) I LOVE this diaper bag which has a large, insulated pocket for bottles and bags of milk. It even has a pull-out “bassinet”/changing area which is really helpful for traveling!
You can also use the insulated section in your breast pump bag if you are bringing one. My pump bag has a HUGE pocket on the bottom that can fit multiple bottles, breast milk storage containers, ice packs, and milk bags. This would be a great option if you need to bring more than just a few bags of frozen milk.
If you are traveling by car for a road trip, you’ve got a few more options. You can buy a car freezer so you don’t need to really worry about your milk at all, or you can get a plug in cooler so you can rest assured that your milk is refrigerated for the entirety of your trip!
Use tons of ice packs
To keep anything frozen, you’ll need some ice packs. If you are flying on an airplane, the TSA guidelines allow gel packs and frozen liquid items as long as they are frozen solid when you get to the security checkpoint.
I love these flat freezer packs which are just a little bigger than the size of a milk bag. They are super thin which makes them easy to pack and don’t take up too much room in your bag!
If you are traveling with breast milk already in the bottle, you need these bottle ice packs– they truly are a game changer! The bottle fits right in the ice pack, and the ice pack wraps around the bottle to keep it cold! Use just one, or put one on each side of the bottle.
I usually just use one given space constraint (they are kind of bulky), but it has kept my milk cold all day! If you are traveling by car, you could throw a bunch of regular ice on top of the milk bags, though this can get messy and wet once the ice melts!
Checking your breast milk on an airplane
If you don’t need your breast milk with you during the flight, you can always check it in your luggage! Because you can pack most other liquids in your checked luggage, breast milk is no different.
Simply put the breast milk in an insulated cooler (a lunch box works well for this too!), and pack it tight with ice packs. When you get to your destination, be sure to take the breast milk out and either use it or get it in the refrigerator/freezer!
Don’t open the cooler
When traveling with frozen breast milk, avoid opening the cooler or insulated bag as much as possible. Every time you open it, the ice packs will start to melt and your milk will warm up.
Try to pack everything you need for the trip in the cooler or bag before you leave, and only open it when absolutely necessary! It is a good idea to pack other important things in different carry-on baggage so you don’t need to keep opening the cooler bag.
Pack the cooler tight!
The more items you have packed in your cooler, the longer it will stay cold. If you are just packing a few bags of milk, this might not be as much of an issue, but if you are bringing a large cooler with you, try to pack as much as possible!
Put more ice packs in there, or even some food items! I usually pack a couple of water bottles and snacks for my kids in the cooler as well. Check out this list of healthy airplane meals and snacks that you can fill the cooler with to kill two birds with one stone!
Storing breast milk in a hotel room
Once you get to your final destination (for example, your hotel room), be sure to take the breast milk out of your bag as soon as possible! Book a hotel room that has a refrigerator or freezer ahead of time!
If your room doesn’t have this option, you’ll need to use the breastmilk in 24 hours as per the CDC guidelines to use breast milk in coolers in this timeframe.
Use Dry Ice
Airlines allow passengers to fly with 5.5 pounds or less of dry ice- but you’ll need airline approval. Dry ice can be a great option to keep breast milk frozen while traveling, though it is much more difficult to handle and pack than ice packs.
Packs can NOT be air-tight- they must allow the release of carbon dioxide. Dry ice could be a good option if you are traveling long distances or by car, for longer trips but be sure to call your airline and double-check all of their guidelines and the amount of dry ice you can travel with!
Thawing breast milk while traveling
If you need to feed your baby the frozen breast milk while on an airplane, you might be wondering how to thaw it. Typically, you can thaw breast milk by running warm water over it for a few minutes. However, on a plane, this can be tricky!
One option is to take the milk bag into the bathroom and run it under warm water in there. If this grosses you out, you can ask the flight attendants for just a cup of hot water (such as for tea), and let it cool down a bit before putting the bag of breast milk in it to defrost.
If your baby prefers warm breast milk, be sure to bring a portable bottle warmer like this one so your little one can have a nice warm meal on the go!
Thank you for reading!
Traveling with a baby is always a little tricky, but with some planning and organization, it can be done! I hope this guide gave you some advice on how to keep breast milk frozen while traveling so your little one can continue to enjoy your milk while you’re away.
Breast milk is often touted as “liquid gold”, so we want to protect it as much as we can! Be sure to check out the TSA website for any additional questions! As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!