Keeping your pumped milk at the right temperature when you travel
When you’re a breastfeeding mum, traveling with your baby in any capacity can add a few extra layers of complications and stress, not to mention several additional items you have to pack in your luggage and diaper bag.
Your baby’s feeding schedule and your travel schedule seldom line up perfectly with each other, especially when keeping with a flight schedule or on road trips. On many occasions, I’ve had to pump before/after a flight or while in the car and save my milk for a later feeding.
In all cases, it’s best to have a quality breast milk cooler on hand, as we all know how precious that liquid gold is. The best cooler for your needs depends entirely on the duration of your travel time and your travel surroundings, and that’s why we’ve compiled a list of the Best Insulated Baby Bottle Coolers for almost every situation to help you find the perfect one.
This post is part of our tried & tested baby travel products series
What to look for in a good breastmilk cooler
Several factors go into choosing a good breastmilk cooler bag, especially one that is versatile enough to fit your specific needs. It’s important to consider each of these before you select one for purchase.
Regardless of where you’re going or how long you’ll be travelling, choosing a breastmilk cooler bag with quality insulation is essential. Knowing that your milk will stay at a consistent temperature not only gives you peace of mind, it is also necessary for your baby’s health and safety.
If you’re traveling a long distance or will be gone for several days without access to a freezer, you’ll want to choose a milk cooler bag with a larger capacity. This will allow you to put a sufficient amount of ice/icepacks inside along with your baby bottles or breast milk storage bags.
However, a more compact option would be best for flights or car travel, as you will be in a more confined space and won’t be travelling without intermittent access to a hotel fridge or gas station.
Cleaning and Care
The best cooler for breast milk will be easy to wipe clean, or you should be able to toss it in a washing machine for a cycle to reuse. You’ll also want to look for a bag with a stain-resistant outer surface as well, as we all know how easily items can get soiled during travel.
Stylish vs. Practical
As mums, we’re often torn between what looks the most stylish and what is the most reasonable and practical option. Luckily, most breastmilk cooler bags are a combination of both. They often come in a variety of colours and patterns to suit your personal style, and many choices offer both tote and strap carrying options so that you can adapt them to your immediate travel needs.
Method of Cooling
When it comes to choosing the best cooler bag for breastmilk, you have a few options in terms of cooling. The most common cooling method is an ice pack of some kind. Most breast milk cooler bags come with an ice pack that is made to fit that particular one. You can also simply use freezer bags full of ice and replace them as needed.
You can include your baby milk bottles in your family cooler too. Just be mindful of how often this will get open though and consider whether a consistent temperature can be maintained for your breastmilk in the larger coolers we describe below.
The final option would be a cooler powered by electricity. In my opinion, this is the trickiest and least available way to go. If you are embarking on a long road trip where the mini-fridge can be plugged in , it might come in handy. However, you always run the risk of the cooler or (heaven forbid) your vehicle breaking down and finding yourself stranded in more ways than one.
TSA Rules Regarding Transporting Breastmilk
If you plan on traveling with your baby by air, we strongly recommend that you review TSA’s rules regarding breast milk, formula, and other baby items. As it currently stands, you can transport “reasonable” amounts of breast milk in your carry-on bag.
We also recommend that you check with the TSA agent at your gate for any additional guidelines.
We have a detailed guide to breastfeeding and travelling with breastmilk that may cover many more of your pumping and breastmilk transportation questions.
Short Trips vs. Long Flights
The type of breast milk cooler you choose is also strongly dependent upon whether or not you’re planning a short flight (either directly or with a single layover) or longer flights with multiple layovers (or to another country).
A shorter flight may not require the same level of insulation, as you’ll be able to replenish your supply of ice or find a fridge in your hotel within 5-6 hours. However, if you and your baby will be enduring an 8-hour flight plus additional driving time, it would be wise to find a cooler that offers significantly more insulation.
Best Breastmilk Cooler Bags
We’ve included a summary of our favourite choices here, but read on below for more details about when you might find each best to use – there’s no one size fits all solution when it comes to baby & toddler travel!
Best Overall Breastmilk Cooler: Skip Hop Insulated Breastmilk Cooler
Why We Love It: This is an all-around crowd-pleaser that is versatile enough to be used in many different travel situations. It’s compact enough to fit inside a diaper bag or backpack for air travel, and it fits nicely into a free spot for shorter car trips. Previous customers have stated that it keeps several bags of breastmilk cold for around 8 hours.
Possible Cons: This milk cooler bag is best suited for shorter trips, as it can only carry two full-size bottles or 2-3 milk storage bags.
Specifications of the Skip Hop Insulated Breastmilk Cooler:
- Dimensions: 6.75 x 3.5 x 9 inches
- Weight: 4 ounces
- Freezer pack included
- Holds two bottles or sippy cups
- Two-way zippers for customized access
- Keeps liquids cool for up to 8 hours
Most Affordable: Tiblue Breastmilk Cooler Bag
Why We Love It: This budget-friendly breast milk cooler doesn’t skimp on style or functionality. It’s large enough to hold six smaller bottles or four larger bottles up to 9 oz. The outer surface is made from water-resistant fabric, and the interior can easily be wiped clean. It’s a versatile option for air and car travel as well as a day trip to the beach.
Possible Cons: Cannot be easily stored in a diaper bag, which is a downside. The bag also only comes with a handle, making it more cumbersome when you have to carry multiple things at once.
Specifications of the Tiblue Breastmilk Cooler Bag:
- Dimensions: 10.04 x 9.33 x 3.35 inches
- Weight: 8.4 ounces
- Water-resistant 300D composite oxford fabric
- 8mm extra-thick EPE foam aluminum foil liner
- Waterproof interior
- Pocket for smaller personal items
- Fits most standard bottles
Other value options to consider
Most Compact: FlexiFreeze Pocketbook Breastmilk Cooler
Why We Love It: If you’re only travelling for a few hours before having access to a fridge or additional ice and want a discrete option for storing several bags of breast milk, this is the breastmilk cooler bag for you. It’s the size of a wallet and can easily fit into your diaper bag or purse. It has built-in ice cube packs, so you just have to take it out of your freezer, and you’re ready to go.
Possible Cons: Works best to keep frozen breastmilk cool, so less suitable for storing room-temperature milk for long periods.
Specifications for the FlexiFreeze Pocketbook Breastmilk Cooler:
- Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.3 x 8 inches
- Weight: 12 ounces
- Capacity for several breast milk bags
- Contains built-in freezable ice cubes
Other compact options to consider:
Best for Long Car Journeys: MOMIGO Pump Backpack
Why We Love It: This is an excellent option for longer road trips, as it offers storage for your breast pump and both feeding and storage bottles. The insulated bottom layer can hold up to six storage bottles plus an ice pack and boasts a 15-hour cooling time.
Possible Cons: Several mums have said that while they love the bag, it does take some organization and added time to fit everything into the larger compartment.
Specifications for the MOMIGO Pump Backpack:
- Dimensions: 15.25 x 13 x 13.75 inches
- Weight: 1.6 lbs
- Durable, moistureproof fabric
- Padded shoulder straps
- Earphone and External USB charging port
- Anti-theft pocket
Other options to consider for long car journeys:
Best for Long Flights: Columbia Badger Ridge Insulated Baby Food and Bottle Tote
Why We Love It: If your next vacation includes several layovers or more than a few hours in the air, this breastmilk cooler bag has you covered. It’s large enough to hold several bottles and milk storage bags yet specifically designed to take up as little extra room as possible. The padded shoulder strap can also attach to your stroller, allowing you to transport it through the terminal securely.
Possible Cons: The bag’s interior is not waterproof, so any leaks could cause quite a mess mid-flight.
Specifications for the Columbia Badger Ridge Insulated Baby Food & Bottle Tote:
- Dimensions: 11.5 x 4.75 x 9.25 inches
- Weight: 7.2 ounces
- Therma-Flect radiant barrier
- High-density thermal insulation
- Easy-to-clean lining
- Elasticized interior straps
- Two exterior mesh pockets
- Padded handle and shoulder strap
Other options to consider for long flights:
Best Insulated Baby Bottle Coolers for Outdoor Excursions
Best for Hiking and Camping: IceMule Classic Cooler
Why We Love It: If you’re headed to the great outdoors for any length of time, this is the best cooler bag for breastmilk. It comes in a variety of sizes which is helpful for transporting a variety of supplies that need refrigeration. This cooler’s most attractive feature is its insulation-it keeps contents cold for over 24 hours and maintains ice-like temperatures for up to 2 days.
Possible Cons: The temperature maintenance does decrease in extremely hot weather conditions or if placed in direct sunlight.
Specifications for the IceMule Classic Cooler:
- Dimensions: 5.91 x 6.3 x 15.75 inches
- Weight: 1.7 lbs
- Available in several colors
- Collapsible and lightweight
- Roll-top design for easy access
- 24 + hours of cooling
- Extra durable Muleskin exterior
- PolarLayer insulation
Other options to consider for hiking & camping:
Best for the Beach: Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze
Why We Love It: If you and your family are headed out for a day of sunshine at the beach, this breast milk cooler is an ideal option. The rugged wheels allow for easy transportation, and the cooler is large enough to store snacks, drinks, and bags or bottles of breastmilk. Interior spills can be easily wiped clean, and the Rhino-Tech exterior is both durable and water/stain-resistant.
Possible Cons: Previous customers’ main complaint was that the bag did not stay on the cart very well. This was easily fixed with a few strips of Velcro or similar adhesives.
Specifications for the Artic Zone Titan Deep Freeze:
- Dimensions: 13.25 x 12 x 14.75 inches
- Weight: 6.77 lbs
- Deep Freeze high-performance insulation
- Radiant heat barrier reflects heat
- Triple-layer ColdBlock base with three thick layers of SuperFoam
- Leak-proof lining with Microban
- Puncture-resistant, durable Rhino-Tech exterior
Other options to consider for a day at the beach:
And don’t forget your ice packs!
Not all of the insulated breastmilk coolers we’ve described here actually come with their own ice pack. Some coolers have their own branded ice pack you can buy separately like Yeti & Coleman, otherwise, generic ice packs are fine. We prefer soft contour ice packs for a better fit.
We hope this breastmilk cooler guide has helped you narrow down the choices and sees you one step closer to confidently travelling the world with your kids – whether it’s a day hike with your bubs or flying around the world!
More Helpful Travel Gear for Baby & Toddler Travel
Before you set out on your next family vacation, you may also want to learn more about:
- Ultimate Baby Travel Checklist – super detailed guide to everything you could possible need on a trip with a baby + a downloadable baby travel packing list to keep you organised.
- Portable Breast Pumps worth the investment – if you think you’ll be on the move with or without your little one a lot, whether it’s for business trips or family vacations, you’ll want one of these comfortable and discreet pumping systems
- Travelling High Chairs & Boosters – are they really worth it? Our frank views on investing in a portable booster and when it may come in handy when you’re baby is ready to wean
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