Best milk options when flying with a toddler

 In Travel Tips

Fellow family traveler Beth Henry frequently flies the friendly skies. As an airline attendant she has seen the ups and downs of family travel over the years, and is now experiencing it first hand with her own little ones. Milk is always a hard one to figure out when you travel with a toddler, but Beth has come up with a plan that will make travel easier for not only her family, but yours as well. 

Once baby is weaned off breast milk and formula, what are your options for milk when you travel?

This is the question I had to ask a few weeks ago when we were packing for a trip for Miami Beach. My son John, who is 13 months old, depends on milk for a good part of his nutrition, but no longer uses formula.

Since I work for an airline I know it is best to assume milk will not be available on your flight. Airlines do supply it, but in small amounts and not at all times of the day. The airline I work for doesn’t stock milk on flights after 10am for those sitting in economy seats, except for on transcontinental and international flights. I was looking for the best milk to pack as a back-up in case fresh milk wasn’t easily accessible while en route. I don’t remember for sure what I used to pack for my older daughter Ella once she was off formula; I probably just went for the milk boxes you can find at any U.S. grocery store.

After a bit of research, I found these options for bringing milk on a plane:




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Showing 13 comments
  • Vicki Howell

    What an informative article. Thank you for these great tips.

  • Christin

    These are all great tips. Can I add one more? Somewhere along the lines, I got a small cooler pouch that just holds 2 bottles/2 sippy cups. I bring that (empty), empty sippy cups and a small zip lock bag with me to the airport. Once I get through security, I go to one of the coffee shops and buy cold milk – sometimes they fill the cups directly, sometimes they prefer to give it to me in a cup which I then pour into the sippy cups. I also get a cup of ice which I put in the zip lock bag and into the cooler pouch. This will usually buy us enough time (and milk) until we get to our destination. Plus the coffee shops usually have the range of milks from whole to skim so you can choose what your kids would normally drink.

    • Beth Henry

      Christin, that is an excellent idea! Have you ever had trouble with the ziploc bag leaking? I sometimes do. I guess you could always double-bag it. I like to use The First Years “Take and Toss” cups. They are reuseable but inexpensive so if you need to toss them you’re not losing too much money.

      • Christin

        I think I’ve used this method several times and only had 1 leak which was mostly contained in the cooler pouch. I try to use the quart size freezer bags so they’re extra thick. Doubling up is a great idea though.

        • Keryn Means

          Another alternative is freezing grapes and sticking them in ziplock bags. Works as a great freeze pack and you get to eat them once it thaws. I also grab ice from a vendor at the airport, but always double bag the ice. I have enough spills to deal with from my kids 🙂

  • Jason Redd

    Very well thought-out article! Our preference is the cardboard milk containers because of their convenience (no refrigeration *required*) and inability to cause large spills if just turned over thanks to the small hole for punching a straw through (watch out for squeezing too hard though). I also like that the cartons are disposable pretty much anywhere; the last thing I want to have to worry about while traveling from Point A to Point B is washing out a reusable container which has been filled with milk; the smell becomes stomach turning in a hurry (especially if you leave it in a hot car at your destination!). Thanks for sharing this article.

    • Keryn Means

      Jason- Oh I hate when I find sippy cups with milk in them in the car! Worst. Smell. Ever!

  • Jennifer

    Thanks for the good ideas!

  • Hilarye

    I like to bring powdered milk for my kids. I know it doesn’t taste as good- but my kids don’t seem to notice. It’s way easier to pack and when you need it you just add water. No need to keep it cold and it’s easy to pack in a ziplock bag and use as much as you need.

  • Noel

    That was comprehensive, thanks for sharing this well thought out post on toddler milk options.

  • wanderingeducators

    Great tips – I think many parents will find them useful!

  • Colleen Lanin

    Love these tips! I think it’s always important to plan for “what ifs” too. I wouldn’t count on an airline having milk when you need it. Unexpected turbulence may delay the beverage cart, much to your (and the rest of the passengers’) dismay!

  • Warren Andrews

    The Transportation Security Administration rules for carrying liquids on board an airplane require that you put liquids in containers that are 3.4 ounces or smaller. Although the TSA allows you to bring larger quantities of liquid formula or milk that you need to satisfy your toddler’s nutritional needs during the flight, you must inform the Transportation Security Officer that you are bringing milk before you pass through the screening checkpoint. The officer may ask you to open the containers for inspection.