TSA with Baby
Going through airport security has always stressed me out. Which is a little comical considering how many times I've done it. I think it's because I really, really don't like breaking the rules or getting in trouble. I'm boring like that. (Disclaimer: I am not claiming to always follow the rules.) Clearly, I am not going to intentionally break any airport security rules. But... What if I forget to take out all of my liquids? What if my granola bar somehow contains a substance that is not allowed? What if my bra has a tiny piece of metal on it and it leads to an embarrassing process of figuring out where I am harboring said metal? Add a baby to the airport security mix, and you've quite literally got your hands full. Here are a few tips that I hope will make your 'TSA with baby' experience smoother and less stressful.
What can I take through airport security for baby?
- Baby food (more than the typical 3.4oz is allowed)
- Juice and/or water in a sippy cup (more than the typical 3.4oz is allowed)
- Breastmilk or formula and freezer or frozen gel packs if needed, to keep your breastmilk fresh (more than the typical 3.4oz is allowed)
- Gel or liquid filled teethers
- Oher baby necessities such as infant medicine (Tylenol and Benadryl) saline spray or drops, baby bath products, etc. You shouldn't have a problem adhering to the 3.4oz rule with these items, although there have been times that I have brought slightly larger amounts with me and had no issue.
Tips for a smooth security process:
Wear your baby. I always put Lincoln in the Ergo when we are making our way through the airport, including security. It keeps both hands free so you can focus on readying yourself for the security check (removing shoes, jewelry, liquids from your bag, etc.) Most of the time, I have been allowed to simply walk through the screening check point while wearing him. One time a TSA agent did ask me to remove the carrier and carry Lincoln through. While I think it is unusual for them to make that request, it is still worth it to keep baby in the carrier until that point.
Give TSA a heads up. When you place your items on the belt, let a TSA agent know that you have items in your bag in excess of the typical 3.4oz for your baby.
Bring pouches vs. jarred or tubs of baby food. When you are on the go, it is much easier to be able to give baby a pouch than to have to spoon feed. You really don't want to mess with packing and cleaning a spoon, or the added mess that comes with it. Pouches also tend to pack more easily and take up less space than the alternatives.
Plan ahead. Have all of your liquids either on the top of your diaper bag or in a side pouch so it's easy to grab them and get them onto the belt without having to dig through your things.
Wear your hair in a pony tail. You are more likely to need a pat down if your hair is down, especially if you're already partially 'concealed' by the baby carrier. Not to mention, you have enough to fidget with. Just trust me on this one.
Additional tips if you're traveling alone with baby:
This is what I arrive at the airport with when traveling alone. It looks like a ton, but it's really not that bad. I check the Pack n Play (sitting on top of the stroller) and the small carry-on sized suit case. At the gate, I check the stroller, so all I carry on to the airplane is the car seat and base, and the diaper bag. Not into trucking this stuff around? Lighten your load by staying somewhere with a crib and renting a car seat upon your arrival!
If you are bringing your car seat onto the airplane, consider taking your stroller with you through security and to the gate. Once you walk down the jet-way to board the plane, they will 'gate check' your stroller for you and have it waiting at the jet-way when you de-board. I like to gate-check the stroller when I travel alone because then I can wear Lincoln in the carrier, place the car seat (and base, if it's an infant seat) in/on the stroller and then hang my diaper bag from it. It takes a lot of weight off of your shoulders, both figuratively and literally!
If you are bringing your car seat onto the airplane, I do NOT recommend checking the car seat base, at the gate or prior to security. I always carry it on. (The car seat and base do not count as your 'one allotted carry on item' so you can bring them in addition to your carry on, which is likely your diaper bag.) I am adamant about this because unfortunately, luggage does sometimes get lost, and my infant car seat is worthless to me without the base when I arrive at my destination.
Put the most important items in your diaper bag. When I fly, I like to pack light. I also like to pack as if I know that my checked luggage will be lost. That's a hard balance to strike. As long as you have baby food, enough diapers and wipes for 24 hours, and a change for baby (and at least a clean shirt for yourself) you'll survive. You can always purchase more of what you need when you arrive if you have to get a few things to get by until your lost luggage is located. You can read more about what I take on the airplane with me, here.
Give yourself extra time. Lord knows your child WILL have a diaper blowout, spit up the largest amount of baby vomit you've seen in your life onto the one and only shirt you brought, or suddenly decide he or she is starving and demand to nurse for 30 minutes. Truly, I hope none of these things happen to you, and chances are, they won't. But just in case, save yourself the stress of being late for your flight and build in a little wiggle room!
Plan ahead, pack wisely, and strap that sweet baby into a front carrier and airport security will be a breeze. Happy travels to you!