TSA Rules on Baby Formula

Unless you're taking a quick trip that lasts less than two hours or so, you'll likely need to bring along baby formula to keep your baby well fed while you're in the air. Though the Transportation Security Administration only allows passengers to carry 3.4 ounces or less of liquid through security, that rule is different when it comes to baby formula. Before heading to the airport, know the exact rules so you can do what's best for your little one without breaking any rules.

Rules Regarding Liquids

The TSA allows a maximum of 3.4 ounces of certain liquids to pass through security. This includes liquids, gels and aerosols such as water bottles, sodas, lotion, hand sanitizer and sunscreen. Stash these items in a clear quart-sized zip-top bag so the TSA can screen them. These rules went into effect after September 11, 2001 because certain liquids, gels and aerosols in large quantities can be used as explosives. While you won't be able to bring a huge bottle of infant sunscreen or tube of diaper rash cream in your carry-on luggage, your baby's formula is exempt from these rules.

Baby Formula Exceptions

While you are not bound by the 3.4 ounce limit, the TSA advises you to only bring what you think you'll need while at the airport and in the air. You can bring formula in "reasonable quantities exceeding 3.4 ounces," according to TSA regulations. Any liquid infant formula that you do bring through security will be screened for explosives, so the less you bring with you, the less time it will take to make it through the security line. Prepared liquid formula is heavier than the powder, too, and bringing only what you need will lighten your load as you travel. With a baby, a stroller, a diaper bag and a car seat, any little bit helps.


You can make it easier on yourself when traveling by bringing just the infant formula powder through security. Once you've passed through the security line, you can fill your baby's bottles with water from a drinking fountain or by purchasing bottled water in one of the airport snack stops. This will allow you to get through the line more quickly because you won't have any liquid formula that needs to be screened. If you do bring prepared bottles through security, notify a TSA agent that you have them and present them for screening. This also speeds up your wait time because the TSA agents won't have to back the scanner up and ask you to remove your liquids. You might also consider packing the formula you don't need on the flight in your checked baggage.


In 2009, the TSA enacted new guidelines regarding powders, including infant formula powder. The new rules were put into place because certain types of powders can be used as explosives, and requiring TSA agents to screen powders makes air travel safer for everyone. You can bring as much powder as you want, but it might be screened using special equipment. The TSA notes that formula powder isn't screened very often, but it's possible. You're permitted to bring gel ice packs through security, as well, which is convenient for keeping your baby's prepared formula fresh. Consider placing the ice packs and prepared formula in tightly sealed zip-top bags to prevent the contents from leaking all over everything else in your carry-on bag. Traveling with a baby is stressful enough, and a leaky, messy bag is an unwelcome surprise.