Traveling with a baby who is weaning does need some forward planning, especially if you are flying with a baby and can’t pop out to the shops to purchase some baby food, or whip up a meal in your kitchen. Traveling with baby food means also considering delays and how to keep food cool or heat it up. We include food ideas that we have taken on flights and some rules to be aware of.
This post answers lots of popular questions about travelling with baby food, provides tips and ideas to make it easier for you and provides suggestions of easy baby food that travels well.
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CAN I BRING BABY FOOD ON PLANES?
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Yes, you can bring baby food on planes. If it is in your hand luggage and it is for your baby on the flight, then it is NOT subject to the 100ml/3-1-1 liquid rule set by individual countries. This includes water, breast milk, powdered milk, baby food pouches and jars. TSA state, “Baby food is allowed in reasonable quantities in carry-on bags. Remove these items from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings.”
(If any liquid is for you, unless medically approved then it IS subject to the liquid rules if it is in your hand luggage.)
Can I take homemade baby food on a plane? Yes! Exactly the same rules apply. It is allowed in reasonable quantities.
Airport security do not state an exact amount for baby food or drink because everyones circumstances are different in terms of; age of baby, what they eat and drink, the length of their journey and if connections are involved. The rules do not differ on baby food puree or solid baby food.
The rules may differ from country to country on whether cooling packs/ice packs are allowed to help keep food/milk chilled and they also may vary about flying with frozen breast milk without your baby.
The TSA also state below their rules which are applicable if you are traveling from a USA airport.“Formula, breast milk, juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag. Remove these items from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. You do not need to travel with your child to bring breast milk. Breast milk and formula are considered medically necessary liquids. This also applies to breast milk pumping equipment (regardless of presence of breast milk).
Ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk and juice are allowed in carry-on. If these accessories are partially frozen or slushy, they are subject to the same screening as described above. You may also bring gel or liquid-filled teethers, canned, jarred and processed baby food in carry-on baggage. These items may be subject to additional screening.”
So while there are currently restrictions on liquids you can take on a plane, they do not apply to food or milk for your baby. All airlines do permit baby food and milk to be brought onboard the plane.
If you cannot find specific information on your airlines website, then you will usually find it on your departing airports website in the security section as exemptions to the 3-1-1/100ml liquid rule. Most airports/airlines stipulate ‘reasonable quantity’ or ‘enough for the journey’.
Rules when arriving in a country with baby food.
Some countries have very strict custom laws with regards to the importation of food. You will usually here the airline announce that all airplane food must remain on the plane. Baby food is exempt, but when it is a solid piece of fruit or vegetable or something homemade, it is best to dump it or declare it to avoid any fine. Baby milk whether liquid or powder is exempt as are unopened baby food pouches or jars. If in doubt, go through the red channel at customs. The line is normally super short!
Airline provided baby meals and child meals
Some airlines provide (on request only, at least 24 hours in advance ) special meals for babies and children.
For babies under two this is usually pureed baby food. You cannot request anything else for this age unless on Singapore Airlines who provide a toddler meal. For children over two, you can request a children’s meal. For children under two, you should always make sure you have enough food and drink for them.
Baby food and travel snack ideas
If you need to bring some of your own travel snacks or food for your baby, some easy ideas include:
TRAVEL FOOD FOR BABIES
BEST TRAVEL SNACKS FOR TODDLERS AND BABY LED WEANING
The great thing with the baby travel food and toddler travel snacks below, is that the majority is minimal mess (if there is such a thing with BLW!) and incredibly easy to organise for travel.
- Raisins – or other dried fruit
- Cheese crackers
- Fruit squeeze pouch – apple is usually a popular one.
- Toast strips/soldiers – Cut into strips and spread a little butter on.
- Cooked pasta – Convenient for snacks on the go or as a full meal. Once up in the air, ask a flight attendant for a cup of hot water and you can warm it up. Add cheese or fresh vegetables!
- Mini sausages – make easy finger food for older kids.
- Rice cakes
- Homemade muffins – Choose a baby friendly recipe with no honey and no added sugar besides fruit. You can freeze muffins and pull from the freezer anytime you need in a hurry.
- Granola bars
- Cucumber and carrot sticks
- Roasted Veggies
- Thawed peas (from frozen) – Just take directly from your freezer and pack and go! They will need a short time to defrost to be ready to eat but the coldness will help keep everything else fresh too.
- Tofu strips – Pan fry tofu 1-2 minutes each side, then cool and pack.
- Bread sticks
- Porridge pots
- Cereal hoops
- Cheese – you can grate or shred it into fine pieces before you fo for baby to easily grab.
- Pancakes (with 3 ingredients) 1 ripe banana, 2 eggs, 1/12 teaspoons of coconut oil mixed together and cooked on a frying pan/skillet on a low heat. Once cooled they are ready to go.
Anything that is fresh, remember to leave on the aircraft or check the countries customs laws. For example, fresh food of any kind is NOT allowed into Australia or New Zealand.
FOODS TO AVOID
Avoid candy, lollies and chocolate etc as a hyper kid on the plane is zero fun! The only exception is for older kids (when the choking risk is low) with a lollipop for top of descent – in case they find the ear pressure uncomfortable.
Some airlines may announce that food containing nuts cannot be consumed due to a passenger with an extreme allergy, so do not bring them just in case you can not use.
Obvious no gos include whole grapes, jelly cubes, marshmallows or anything that could bloke an airway or large chunks which could be a choking hazard.
Remember many food products must be declared in certain countries. Always look at the customs card and if in doubt, bin it or declare it. I’ve always declared baby powder formula, even opened and have been allowed it. Countries like Australia will not let you bring any fresh produce in. Please check the latest customs laws.
PACKING FOOD FOR TRAVEL
Before you decide on the types of food for traveling, you will need to consider a few things:
- How are you traveling?
- Is there any cold storage available?
- Can you easily get ice?
- Have you enough food to cover delays?
- What space do you have available in your case?
- Always pack more than you think you’ll need. Kids’ love to snack when on the go!
- Do you need portable travel blender for weaning babies or to make smoothies?
HOW TO KEEP FOOD COOL & HOW TO PACK BABY FOOD FOR TRAVEL
To keep the food fresh in my hand luggage, I take frozen gel packs from home AND empty Ziploc bags. Be aware some countries security laws may not accept icepacks/coolpacks/ gel packs to keep the food cool through security.
Check at the check in counter if they are allowed and if you are caught out, pack the frozen gel packs in your suitcase and then use your Ziplocs to fill with ice from a cafe once airside and again from the crew onboard the plane. (If you are traveling within the USA or from the USA the TSA rules for baby food DO permit cool-packs and gel pack use in your hand luggage. They will also permit frozen food. The UK will also allow frozen gel packs to keep baby food cool only)
If I am unable to use a frozen gel ice pack in my hand luggage, I always pack a couple extra in my main suitcase – that way they can be frozen at my destination and be used on day trips from the hotel to keep food cool.
An insulated food bag can then be used to place everything in for your baby. Travel food is then ready to go!
BEST TRAVEL FOOD CONTAINERS FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS
When flying with baby food or baby milk, it’s always best to first check airport security rules first for the types of travel baby food containers you can use – as they can differ.
Where some airports will allow flasks, others won’t and some do prefer clear containers for transporting breast milk. eg at London Heathrow, “At London Heathrow Baby food or baby milk: breast milk can be carried in the cabin; when it is stored in a clear, transparent container or bag. Flasks cannot be permitted.”
When you are packing travel food, especially homemade baby food, it’s harder to get replacements, so to avoid tears and tantrums, never put all of one type of food in once container, but spread it out over two, just in case of an accidental spillage.
If your baby is doing baby lead weaning (BLW), or you have a toddler, it’s definitely easier to give them just a small amount at a time. For older children, Bento Boxes work well as you can pack a selection of items and keep it all in one place. Here are some of the best travel food containers for babies, toddlers and older kids.
Bento Boxes: You can buy great ‘bento’ style organizer boxes which can hold a variety of travel snacks for older children. These basic stackable Bento Boxes are affordable and fit about 1/2 a cups worth of food in each section.
Snack Catchers: Munchkin snack catchers are great to stop toddler and older baby spills on the go. They will get plenty of use whether you are on a long road trip with kids, an outing to the park or on a flight.
Collapsible Snack Containers: Collapsible snack containers are great for travel for obvious reasons, they save space!
Reusable Pouches: If you make your own baby food or want to fill with yoghurt, smoothies etc, these re-usable pouches are perfect for traveling with baby food.
HOW TO PREPARE BABY FOOD WHILE TRAVELLING?
Preparing baby food while traveling is not as cumbersome as you may think. Whether you are on a road trip with a baby or need to whip up something homemade in your hotel room, you can use things from home to help.
Hotels and restaurants are often used to such requests and will help, but if they are busy or where you are staying doesn’t have round-the clock room service, then bringing a small portable rechargeable blender can be a lifesaver to puree some veggies and fruit quickly.
If you don’t want to pack a portable blender, then whole foods like bananas, ripe pears, mangoes or avocados can be mashed up immediately wherever you are to make instant baby food while travelling.
Once out about food can be kept warm in an insulated food jar or thermos which is great if you are for a day trip or excursion. If flying, check first as not all airport security will allow flasks.
OTHER USEFUL ITEMS FOR TRAVELING WITH BABY ON THE GO
Safety Tips When Feeding On The Go
- Do be mindful of choking as you would at home. It is harder to feed in an airplane seat, but try and keep a good view of babies face whilst you are feeding them. If they can sit in someone elses lap, this can help. Wherever you are, keep them sitting upright whilst eating.
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