Yesterday my mom and I flew out to California for our yearly mother-daughter trip. In tow was of course the third generation tagalong, Little Bear. I was so excited to bring her with us, and start a new tradition of having all three of us girls on a yearly getaway!
I checked the TSA policy on bringing premade formula through security the night before, and it stated that any formula can be brought through. Directly from the TSA website:
Formula, breast milk and juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do need to not fit within a quart-sized bag.
However, the policy is not entirely clear on the procedure for bringing the formula through.
I packed three 8oz sealed travel Gerber formulas, and was flagged immediately. The TSA officer said I had 3 options:
- Open it so he could test it
- Undergo screening of all my baggage, plus a pat down
- Throw it away
I obviously chose option 2, because option 1 would render the formula useless, and my daughter needed to eat (my boobs don’t work anymore. They barely worked while I was breastfeeding, sadly). Option 3, again, not possible. Although technically it was, because I did have some 2oz bottles as spares…but hello, I’m not wasting money!
Anyway, when I asked why this policy wasn’t more clear on the TSA website, the officer said to me, and I quote exactly: “It’s not for the public to know.”
UH, EXCUSE ME??? Not for me to know that I’d be treated like a mother terrorist as you test every SINGLE piece of clothing and pacifier in my suitcase and diaper bag?? Not for me to know that if I didn’t have my mother with me to hold my child, I have no idea how I would have held her while they patted me down with my thumbs facing up and palms feeling my crotch?
Here’s the thing. I don’t mind screening. I understand this is to keep us all safe. HOWEVER, when you hear a response that the TSA policy isn’t for the public to know, or when I hear of friends and colleagues that have had easier experiences with carrying on baby formula or food….I just wonder how strict this policy is, and who it’s really helping. If you’re going to have a policy, abide by it. If I would have known that all of this turmoil with bringing formula was going to happen, I absolutely would NOT have brought ready-made 8oz packs.
All of this to say…here are my top 3 tips for carrying ready-made formula on an airplane, for a baby 5 months and younger, specifically:
- Be aware that if you bring 8oz ready-mades, you might end up in my situation and being given one of the aforementioned three options.
- If your baby isn’t eating a ton (LB isn’t, she only eats about 4-6…but there’s no 4oz ready made!), consider buying 2oz ready-mades so that you’re guaranteed to be in the clear.
- Consider buying the instant packets that have 4oz worth of powder prepackaged like a drink mix. Next time I will rely on these, and use bottled water. No, it’s not as easy to just slap on a nipple or pour it into a bottle, but they’re lighter, and take up much less room.
So, dear mamas, read and be wary, that if you decide to bring larger-than-3oz ready-made formula on board, the TSA officer you get may adhere strictly to this apparent policy that I was told about, or maybe, and hopefully, you’ll get someone who’s having a little bit better of a day, sees you and understands the struggles you’re dealing with as a traveling cat-wrangler, and lets you slide just a little.