Tips that make traveling with tots that much easier

Traveling with an infant can be stressful. You have so much to remember and so much gear to haul! With all that to think about, do you need to worry about an ID for your infant? It depends on where you’re traveling.

TSA ID policy is different for domestic and international flights

Children under 18 and traveling with a companion need not show an ID if they’re flying within the United States. When flying internationally, each child must have a passport. To secure a passport, you’ll need to take your baby to the passport office. Also bring form DS-11, proof of citizenship and parental identity for your child, a passport photo of the child and your ID. You’ll also need to bring your child’s Social Security card, or sign a statement saying he or she has never been issued a Social Security number. In addition, you’ll need to bring photocopies of your ID and your child’s proof of citizenship. Both parents must authorize the issuance of a child’s passport. You can find more information about this on


You’ll need a passport photo of your baby, and the photo must be only of your baby: It can’t show a carrier, stroller or person holding the baby. The best way around this is to use blankets and some judicious cropping. The picture will look weird, and that’s OK – just think of how weird it will seem in a couple of years, when the passport is still valid and the child looks completely different.

Birth certificate information

The birth certificate you bring to the passport office must be official. In other words, the pretty one you got at your baby’s christening is not going to suffice, nor is a photocopy of the government-issued one. You must bring the original birth certificate or a certified copy with a raised seal. The good news is that your child’s birth certificate can double as both proof of citizenship and proof of parental identity.

Other TSA policies regarding children

TSA security screenings are notoriously tedious and often uncomfortably invasive. Fortunately, policies are in place to protect children from potential trauma, and TSA agents won’t have to pat down your baby. In fact, they can’t even hold the baby if you ask them to do so! Here are a few facts about TSA screenings with babies.

  • You’ll have to take your baby out of the carrier. It is against most parents’ policy to wake a sleeping baby, but it’s a firm TSA rule that the infant must be carried through security in your arms, napping or no, and the carrier or stroller has to be screened separately. You will not, however, have to remove your child’s shoes, light jacket or head wear.
  • You’re not restricted to 3 ounces of breast milk, formula, juice or medication. That being said, you’ll need to declare what you’re carrying, and be prepared for the TSA agents to X-ray these liquids or ask you to pour out a small sample for testing.
  • Be mindful of the snacks you’re toting. Peanut butter is only allowed in quantities less than 3.4 ounces, as are soups, dips and other creamy foods. If you plan to carry your own snacks, it’s a good idea to check the TSA list of permitted foods before you go.  
  • If your child is of toy-toting age, you should be aware of a few rules. First, toy weaponry can look like the real deal when it goes down the conveyor belt, so even if that toy gun is your child's favorite, it’s probably less of a hassle to leave it at home. Next, be cognizant of the fact that your child’s well-loved teddy bear is going to have to go on the belt and through the X-ray, just like any other possession. Explaining to your child ahead of time that he or she will get the treasured toy right back can prevent meltdowns at the checkpoint.

Organization is the key to smooth traveling with children and babies, especially when getting through security. Try to keep everything stored neatly in your bag, and have your stroller ready to fold as soon as you reach the checkpoint. If it's tricky to fold, you might want to practice ahead of time to avoid stress and delay.