TSA Guidelines for Traveling with Infants

Babies may be small, but they still have to follow the rules of travel. The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) outlines strict guidelines for air travel that include requirements for identification, screening and carry-on items that apply even to the tiniest of humans. When traveling with an infant, pay special attention to these rules to ensure a smooth trip and allow additional time at the airport to go through the check-in and security screening processes.

ID Requirements

The TSA requires that only passengers who are 18 years of age and over show a valid form of ID. If you are traveling with an infant in the U.S., you won't be required to show any ID or child’s birth certificate to show the child’s age for that infant. However, if you are traveling internationally, you will need your child’s passport for your infant; the United States requires that all minors, regardless of age, present a valid passport for international travel and global entry. Other forms of identification include a driver’s license or photo ID to show proof of age, this is mostly for unaccompanied minors for domestic travel.

Ticketing Requirements

Each airline sets its own ticketing procedures and requirements for infants. Southwest, American Airlines and United Airlines let the guardians of children under 2 years old decide whether to purchase a ticket for the child and use a baby seat or hold the child on the lap for no additional cost on domestic flights. These airlines require a 1-to-1 ratio of a paying adult to a nonpaying child. If you don't buy a ticket for your infant, you may be required to obtain a special boarding pass or child travel consent form for the baby. Southwest, for example, requires you to present a Boarding Verification Document at boarding. International flights have stricter requirements, in general. American and United require you to buy a ticket for your infant whether its a lap child or not.

Scanning Process

All passengers, regardless of age, will go through the airport security's screening process. You must put infant items such as strollers, baby seats, diaper bags, and toys through the X-ray scanner along with your carry-on luggage. The TSA requires that you remove your infant from a carrier before you put the item through the scanner. You can then carry the infant through the metal detector yourself, or, if he is able to walk on his own, send him through alone. Your child will be subject to additional scanning if the detector's alarm sounds, however.

Baby Food in Security

The transportation security administration has strict requirements for passengers bringing liquids and gels through airport security, but baby food, formula and breast milk are special exceptions. Unlike other liquids, you do not need to place these items in a zip-top bag at the security checkpoint. Nor do you need to limit the volume of these substances. You must still declare them for inspection at security, and the TSA asks that you only bring what is needed for the duration of the flight.

Travel Tips for Family Travel

You can check your child’s car seat like you can check regular baggage – this provides accessibility for when you land so your child can have their own seat. TSA precheck is also helpful to have as a parent or legal guardian.