When you are traveling or flying with breast milk, then a good cooler which keeps things frozen is essential. It must be well insulated, portable, lightweight, roomy, waterproof with strong carry straps, especially if you are bringing it on as carry on for a flight. Coolers can be soft-sided or hard-sided and come in various sizes and materials.
Remember, not all countries will allow frozen breast milk as carry on through their security, so check the rules of the country you are flying from. (Most will allow frozen breast milk as checked luggage, in which case you will need a very sturdy hard boxed cooler and some bright fragile labels.)
As an ex flight attendant, I’ve helped other parents travel as well as flown with my own babies many times long haul internationally. I’ve breastfed, pumped and formula fed, so a real mixture!
This article looks at the best coolers for traveling with frozen breast milk by plane with or without your baby, but these coolers will also be useful for short road trips or for pumping at work.
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How Much Breast Milk Can I Bring?
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If you have baby flying with you, then you can bring as much breastmilk with you as you need for the journey as carry on, and more in hold luggage. BUT, you won’t always be allowed to bring it as carry on if it is frozen – this depends on the country you are leaving from and their security rules. e.g The USA airport security allows frozen breast milk as carry on and as checked luggage, but the UK only allows frozen breast milk as checked luggage.
This article is assuming you are flying domestically within the USA OR flying from the USA and are allowed to bring frozen breast milk on a plane as carry on. Do check the rules for flying out of other countries in this article on Tips For Flying With Breast Milk
Can I put frozen breast milk in a cooler?
Breast milk can be stored in an insulated cooler with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours when you are traveling.
Will a Yeti cooler keep breast milk frozen?
Yes – see others below!
How do you pack frozen breast milk for travel?
- Use ice packs surrounding and within the milk packs.
- Label and check if you need any special forms/permission if using dry ice
- Label the bag clearly.
How do you keep breast milk frozen while traveling?
- Have an insulated cooler ready to go which has been chilled in the fridge.
- Pump your breast milk into storage bags and then into your freezer.
- Place your bags or containers of frozen breast milk into an insulated cooler with ice packs (or dry ice if permitted.)
- Make sure the cooler is as full as possible as empty space reduces performance.
- Whether you are traveling with frozen breast milk by car or by plane, you can use crumpled newspaper to fill out any spaces.
- Make sure the cooler closes properly
- Do not open the cooler unnecessarily.
How long will breastmilk stay frozen in a cooler?
24 hours. Expressed breast milk may be stored and transported in an insulated cooler bag with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours, or else frozen in dry ice (follow safety precautions when handling dry ice )
How do I keep my breast milk cold at Disney?
If visiting Disney and you would like to keep your breast milk or ice packs frozen during your trip, speak with a Cast Member at the front desk upon check-in who will be able to place your breast milk or ice packs in a resort freezer.
Can I bring a breast pump in Disney?
Yes – There are outlets in all of the Nursing Rooms inside of the Disney World Baby Care Centers. We love the Magic Kingdom Baby Care Center with its Alice in Wonderland theme.
How best to pack a cooler bag for breast milk
- Chill your bag before you use it. Place in the fridge or freezer before you use if for a couple of hours.
- Fill your bag as much as possible. Leaving space in the bag means there’ll be more air and air accelerates the melting of ice.
- Put ice packs between each layer.
- Use more ice packs than you have milk storage bags. The more you use, the more effective your cooler will be.
- Use crumpled paper to fill in any gaps.
How Coolers are Tested
Coolers are often marked with claims of how long they can keep things cool in hours or by days. Sometimes claims use the terms “holds ice” or “keeps ice”.
This is based on a universal Testing Protocol so it is easier to compare different coolers in similar circumstances – where the coolers are 100% filled with cubed ice and are not opened during the testing period. The test is complete when all the ice has fully melted. In real life, coolers are opened more and not completely filled with ice.
So if the cooler is filled with frozen breast milk bags, with ice packs, then coolers will keep this frozen for a longer period than a cool bag which was used for storing chilled breast milk with ice packs.
How to choose the best cooler for your needs?
To find the best cooler for traveling with breast milk, a lot depends on :
- Where you are traveling to
- How you are getting there and
- Whether you are traveling with baby bottles or milk storage bags.
If you are traveling further afield, good insulation is key. As mentioned above, the coolers which offer the best cooling period are ideal for plane travel with breast milk, as long as they well packed and have adequate ice packs.
If you are flying long haul with frozen breast milk, it’s likely you are carrying a fairly substantial amount, so a cooler will need to have a fairly decent capacity to fit any milk storage bags in and ice packs. Any extra space should be filled with crumpled paper. If it is going in the airplane hold, the cooler bag will either need to be a sturdy cased cooler or be able to fit in something offering more substantial protection.
For those looking for a cooler bag for pumping at work or a road trip, a cool bag for pumped milk which has additional space to hold your pump is a bonus. If you are storing bottles, you will may need a taller or wider bag depending on the brand of baby bottles. Our Tommee Tippee bottles are wide,and Dr Brown bottles are tall.
Best Coolers for Frozen Breast Milk
Below you will find the best coolers for traveling with breast milk which details the amount of time the coolers can keep things frozen or cold.
If you are flying, it’s always best to plan for delays and to consider the time it will take from leaving your home to arrival at your destination where the milk can be put back into a freezer. Even for a short haul flight of two hours, we would recommend at the very least having a cooler that works up to 6 hours. Having a well packed cooler with plenty of ice packs will help keep your frozen breast milk frozen for several hours.
BEST COOLERS FOR TRAVELING WITH BREAST MILK COMPARISON TABLE
All of these coolers will help keep your milk frozen for flights or car journeys, if packed well and not constantly opened. The minimum time they keep things cool is 5 hours with the most being 48 hours. See the section about how coolers are tested to help you decide. milk will stay frozen for longer if in frozen breast milk storage backs, packed with ice packs etc.
Swipe left to see all 10 in chart
|Name||RTIC Soft Cooler||Sarah Wells Cold Gold Cooler||Artic Titan Zone Hardbody Cooler||Momcozy Insulated Baby Bottle Bag||PackIt|
|Manorie Breastmilk Cooler Bag||Lekebaby Breast Milk Cooler Bag||TOURIT Cooler Bag||NCVI Breastmilk Cooler Bag||Coleman Portable Hard Cooler|
|Stays cool for xx hours?||24 hours||8 hours||48 hours||5 hours||8 hours||8 hours||8 hours||12||12||8|
|Dimensions||14.6 x 14.6 x 11 inches||6.5 x 6.5 x 6.5 inches||12.25 x 8 x 12.25 inches||7.25 x 8.5 x 5.25 inches||8.3 x 6.7 x 9.1 inches||8.3 x 6.7 x 9.1 inches||9.8 x 7.5 x 5.5 inches||16.5 x 10.25 x 11.5 inches||9.57 x 7.36 x 7.2 inches||9.5 x 12.7 x 11.5 inches|
|Wipe Clean Y or N||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Capacity: (how many baby bottles it can fit?)||20 standard cans||4 bottles/15 bags||16 standard cans||4/5 standard |
|4 bottles||6 bottles||6 bottles||48|
|6 bottles||9 cans|
|Shoulder strap: Y/N||Y||N||Y||Y||N||Y||Y||Y||Y||N|
|Ice pack included Y/N||N||Y||N||N||Y||Y||Y||N||Y||N|
|Storage pockets: Y/N||Y||N||Y||Y||N||Y||Y||Y||Y||N|
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