Are you excited to go on a trip finally? It’s the big break you’ve been wanting after having your first child. But now you’re worried about how to travel with frozen breast milk.
Well, traveling with frozen breast milk isn’t as hard as it sounds. You need to ensure a tight sealed cooler where the breast milk packs will remain frozen for a long time. The milk packs should also be packed cautiously so that there are no spilling issues. Most importantly, you have to notify the TSA if you’re traveling by air.
Don’t know what the guidelines are? Read along and you’ll get to know about all the nitty-gritty of traveling with frozen breast milk.
What are the Guidelines for Traveling with Frozen Breast Milk?
The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) views breast milk as a medically necessary liquid. According to the TSA guidelines, you can carry more than 3.4 ounces or 100 mL of breast milk while inter-state traveling. Also, you must carry the frozen breast milk in a carry-on baggage.
TSA also recommends avoiding plastic bags or pouches while transporting frozen milk. You should use a translucent bottle in this case. Though it’s not a mandatory guideline, it’s best to use a bottle for screening.
The reason is that TSA officers can check the liquids from time to time. They do it to trace any signs of explosives or prohibited items in the milk. It mostly happens when the breast milk is partially frozen or has a slushy consistency. So, it’s important to freeze the breast milk properly.
Now, when traveling outside the country, you must follow the rules and guidelines of the traveling country.
For example, Canada allows more than 100 mL of frozen breast milk during flights. However, the UK has no limit on the amount of frozen breast milk transportation. But they have a strict policy on transporting breast milk in no more than 2000 mL containers.
So, you must check the rules and regulations before going on international flights.
What to Expect from Airport Security About Breast Milk Travel?
Before any process, you have to inform the TSA about your traveling with frozen breast milk. Then, you can expect the following from the Airport Security-
- First, they’ll need you to separate the breast milk from other liquid items. It’s best you carry the breast milk in a separate carry bag.
- You’ll be asked regular questions like how many days are you traveling. They’ll check the quantity of frozen milk you have with you.
- Now, most of the time, they don’t screen frozen breast milk. But if the milk is liquid or slushy, the TSA can send them for screening explosives.
- They can ask you to open the bottles for screening purposes. However, remember to use bottles for transporting breast milk. Plastic bags and pouches are hard to screen with Bottle Liquid Scanners.
- They’ll run an X-ray on the bottle for Explosive Trace Detection and Vapor Analysis.
- However, if you don’t want to X-ray your breast milk, you can request them. In this case, they’ll use Advanced Imaging Technology Screening to screen the breast milk. But note that X-Ray doesn’t harm any food or milk items.
So, now that you’re aware of all the rules and regulations, let’s move on to the main concern.
How To Travel With Frozen Breast Milk? [Step-by-Step Guideline]
There are a few steps to be conscious of when traveling with breast milk. Just like the transporting phase, you must also be careful in the packing and storing phase as well. Here’s a step-by-step guideline on how to travel with frozen breast milk.
Things to Consider
Before packing breast milk, you have to determine the quantity and the duration of your flight. Here’s how you can do it.
- First, you have to quantify how many days you’ll transport with frozen breast milk.
- Identify the amount of breast milk your baby will need during the flight and the entire travel time.
- Check whether the plane or final destination has a freezer or not. If they don’t have a freezer you have to additionally think about the freezing methods.
- Moreover, you must figure out the correct temperature and time the breast milk can remain frozen.
- You must also consider milk-warming options during the flight (if needed).
As you know what things to worry about, now let’s move on to the preparation phase.
First, you have to pour the breast milk into a container and freeze it. You can use ziplock bags, pouches, and bottles. We recommend using bottles to ease the screening process.
If you’re using ziplock bags or pouches you have to freeze it keeping it flat. Simply, use a plate or pan so that the bag can stay flat and even. This helps immensely in packing frozen breast milk.
Note that the breast milk must be rock-solid frozen. If there’s any chance of getting slushy or liquid, the TSA will take more time in screening.
Moving on to the packing phase. Choose an insulated cooler and place Aluminum foil in the lining inside. The Aluminum foil will act as a sealant for the cold air to escape.
Then, put the milk bags inside the cooler utilizing maximum space. Then, place some ice blocks in between the milk bags so that the breast milk stays cool. If you want to use dry ice, you must consult with the airline security and use the suggested amount only.
We’d recommend avoiding gel ice packs for breast milk transportation. It’s not as effective as the reusable ice blocks and it can be difficult to pass the screening process with them.
If you have any remaining space in the cooler, fill it with newspaper or Aluminum foils. This will help the cold temperature to get trapped inside the cooler.
After packing and sealing the breast milk properly, you must store it in the freezer overnight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The freezing temperature must be 0°F (-18°C) or colder.
You must check with your final destination if they have a freezing option or not. You should do it prior to starting your journey. For example, call the hotel you’ll be staying at and ask if they have frozen breast milk storage options.
As soon as you reach your destination, you must take the milk packs out of the cooler. Immediately, store them in the freezer. If the milk becomes thawed, you can’t refreeze it. You must use it within 24 hours of being thawed.
Heating and Feeding [If Needed]
If your child wants breast milk during flight, you need to warm it at room temperature safely. It should be at least 4 hours at room temperature to be consumable.
You can also use a portable bottle warmer to warm the milk and feed it to your baby.
What to Do In the Case of Unexpected Delays?
If there’s an unexpected delay, you must keep the cooler bag closed. You can unpack one or two bottles to feed your child during the flight. The rest of the milk should remain intact and untouchable.
In case you notice the milk is defrosting, you have to add more ice packs to the cooler. Call the TSA or flight attendants and ask for help.
Differences Between Traveling in Plane and Car with Frozen Breast Milk
The main difference is facing authorities while traveling. If you’re traveling by road, you don’t have to inform any authorities. On the other hand, you need to inform the TSA if you’re traveling with frozen breast milk on a plane.
Usually, the packing system is almost similar for both plane and car travel. But you must be extra cautious while packing breast milk for cars. It’s because breast milk can be thawed quickly in a car due to the weather changes. So, it’s best to pack extra ice blocks for by-road travel.
Now, you can pack in ziplock bags or bottles as you wish for traveling in a car. However, it’s best to pack in translucent bottles for plane travel.
Another aspect you must remember that you can feed your baby during a flight. But if you’re in a car, you have to stop the car and feed your baby. Otherwise, your baby can have respiratory problems while drinking breast milk in a running car.
Overall, it’s a bit more convenient to travel with frozen breast milk in a plane than traveling by car. But considering the security checkups and examinations, car transportation is flexible.
Tips to Avoid Issues with Breast Milk Storage While Travelling
To make your travel smooth, here are some expert tips to travel with frozen breast milk.
- You must label your milk for flights to keep them safe.
- Keep a printed copy of the TSA rules and guidelines with you to avoid any issues.
- Make sure the milk storage bags are clean and have BPA-free tight lids.
- Keep extra reusable ice bags with you to avoid any unwanted situations.
- Leave ¼ of the milk packs empty so that the breast milk can expand after freezing.
Can You Use the Frozen Breast Milk After Returning Home?
Yes, you can use the frozen breast milk after returning home. If it has become thawed, you have to use it within 4 hours within room temperature storage. For refrigerator (40°F) storage, it should be consumed within 24 hours.
How Many Days Does Frozen Breast Milk Last?
Frozen breast milk lasts up to 6 months. But if you need to, you can also store it for up to 12 months. Make sure the breast milk isn’t thawed or become moldy.
Does Weather Matter for Travelling with Frozen Breast Milk?
Yes, weather matters for traveling with frozen breast milk. If the temperature is hot, the milk can defrost earlier. In this case, you have to use more ice packs than the regular amount to prevent the thawing of the milk.
So, that’s how to travel with frozen breast milk. You must maintain all the state and country laws while traveling. It’s best to research your final destination before packing. This way you’ll be able to prevent any storage mishaps during travel.