airport security with a toddler
| |

Expert Tips to Make Airport Security with a Toddler a Breeze

If you dread airport security with a toddler and are anxious to find a way to make it easier, this post is for you!

Airport Security with a Toddler

TSA airport security. Did any of you start getting the sweats? How about airport security with a toddler? How much sweating are you doing now? Ha. I only tease because I’ve been there! Somehow, going through airport security with a baby was a much more relaxing prospect than going through airport security with a toddler. Or getting my wisdom teeth out.

Airport security is already stressful but adding an unpredictable and sometimes uncontrollable aspect, such as a toddler, can be a little overwhelming. I get it and I’ve been there! We have made all of the mistakes that you can think of (and some you will hopefully never have to imagine) and now I’m sharing all of our knowledge! Pretty soon, you and your toddler will be experts in going through airport security!

This post has all the expert tips on how to make airport security with a toddler a breeze. Let’s get started!


How Airport Security with a Toddler SHOULD Be

If you’ve never flown before, some of the things I may say later on won’t make much sense, so let’s do a little overview of what to expect when going through airport security with a toddler.

Checking In and Checking Bags

Once you get to the airport, you will drop off the bags that you are checking with the airline and get a boarding pass. Most airlines have the ability to check in online, so if you aren’t checking bags and already have your boarding pass pulled up on your phone, you can just skip this step and head straight to security!

A little plug for Delta is that if you are a Delta card holder, you get your first checked bag for free for you and up to 8 people on your reservation! If you want to learn more and get an extra sign-up bonus, check it out on our DISCOUNTS page.

TSA Airport Security Line

When you get to security, there are going to be several line options.

  • TSA PreCheck line (makes going through the security process faster)
  • CLEAR line (makes the actual line before you get to security faster)
  • priority boarding line (some first class or business class tickets offer this benefit)
  • General Boarding

If you haven’t paid for TSA PreCheck or CLEAR and have a basic seat on the airplane, you will go through General Boarding. The General Boarding line length can vary by time of day, day of the week, and holiday. We’ve seen the line take over an hour to as short as 5 minutes. It really depends, which is why most airlines will ask that you be at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight for domestic flights and 3 hours for international flights.

Once you get to the front of the line, you will be asked for your ID. Your ID can be one of these:

  • driver’s license
  • passport
  • any of the other forms of acceptable Identification.

For kids under the age of 18, they will just need their boarding passes. As adults, the last few times we have flown, it’s been hit or miss whether we’ve had to scan our boarding passes. Keep it handy just in case!

Airport Security with a Toddler

Airport Security Scanning

This is the fun part! Or stressful. If you are in General Boarding, this is the time when you will need to all of this in like 2 minutes:

  • take off your shoes, belt, and coat
  • remove all electronics from your bag
  • remove all of your liquids
  • empty your pockets
  • put all of your belongings in bins to be scanned.

Oh, and then you also need to get your toddler through the x-ray machine and hand their stroller and car seat (if you brought them) to a TSA agent for them to take past the machines. Thankfully, children 12 and under can keep on their shoes and jackets, so that’s a plus!

If you have TSA PreCheck, this process can be a little bit easier! The kids’ stuff is the same, but adults don’t have to remove their shoes, jacket, electronics, or liquids. Just put your stuff in the bins, get your child prepped, and then go through screening. 

Once you’ve gotten through the screening machines, you can gather your stuff and get to your gate. Keep an eye on your stuff though because if they need to do further screening on your bag, they will want you to be there while they do so.

So that’s a basic overview, so now let’s get to the nitty gritty to make this experience a breeze!

Airport Security with a Toddler: Tips

Now that we are all on the same page regarding what the ideal airport security process looks like, let me give you all of our tips and tricks on how to make it a less stressful experience when going through airport security with a toddler!

Invest in TSA PreCheck

I’m not one to tell you to spend all of the money, but when it comes to TSA PreCheck, I would highly recommend it. I briefly went over it earlier, but here is why TSA PreCheck is worth it, especially when traveling with toddlers and kids. 

TSA PreCheck allows you to go into a usually much shorter security line (which is a bonus in and of itself!). 

But wait, there’s more! 

When you show the TSA agent your boarding pass and ticket, you get to go into a separate security area, which means you aren’t fed into the same area that General Boarding is. 

But wait, there’s more! 

Here is the best part! You can keep your shoes on, you can keep your coat on, you can keep your liquids in your carry-on, and you can keep your electronics in your bag. 


Basically, you put your stuff in the bins, get scanned, and grab your bags again. 

In our experience, and that of a lot of parents we’ve talked to, the most stressful part of going through airport security with a toddler is getting all of your stuff taken care of while making sure your toddler isn’t wandering away or freaking out. With TSA PreCheck, you don’t have to worry about that!

Airport Security with a Toddler

Have the Necessary Documents Ready

The next tip is to be prepared. Most specifically, make sure that you have all of your documents ready when you need them. There is nothing worse than getting to the TSA agent and realizing that your wallet with your driver’s license is in the bottom of one of your bags. Or that you got logged out of your Delta or Southwest app that had your boarding pass on it and you forgot your password because who even remembers passwords nowadays?!

Let’s go over the documents you need when going through airport security with a toddler!

Boarding Pass 

If you have it on your phone, you usually have the option to add your boarding pass to your Apple Wallet (for iPhone users). Once you’ve done that, all you have to do is double-press the power button, scan your face or finger, and your phone will open your Apple Wallet with your boarding pass on it! 

If you’ve printed your boarding pass, just keep it safe and handy! Like in a pocket that is easily accessible.


You will need some form of approved Identification, so check the list and bring what you have! The easiest is your driver’s license, but there are other things you can use if you have misplaced it.

For your kids, if they have a boarding pass, you won’t need to bring anything for them. If you are flying with a lap infant (under 2), you may have to show a copy of their birth certificate. We’ve only ever had to show this once, but having a copy of it handy is never a bad idea!

Pack Your Carry-ons Wisely 

There are checked bags that you drop off and don’t see until you land and pick them up and then there are carry-ons that stay with you for the whole life of your travels. That’s the one we’re talking about! When packing your carry-on, you may have electronics or liquids in the little containers that will need to come out. (Unless you have TSA PreCheck!) Be sure to pack those in a way that is easy to get to all the things that need to come out when going through airport security with a toddler! 

Don’t be the guy who has to open a suitcase and dig out your laptop and liquids while the people behind you wait for you. Be the guy that just pops them out onto the tray so fast that no one even notices!

Clean Out Your Stroller

Yeah. We didn’t do this once. So you can imagine what it was like when it was our turn to put our stuff in the trays only to realize that the bottom of the stroller had leaves and sticks from walks, empty fruit snack wrappers, and empty water bottles. That was fun. So learn from our mistakes and clean out your stroller before going through airport security with a toddler!

Get a Car Seat Travel Bag

If you are bringing a car seat whether for the plane or for your destination and don’t want to check it in with our luggage, do yourself a favor and get a car seat travel bag! We have loved ours because Josh just wears it like a backpack throughout the airport and it saves us from awkwardly holding it and keeps it clean. 

We typically check all of our bags and only take our personal items onto the airplane, but if you have roller carry-on bags, there are also some great straps that you can use to attach your car seat to your roller suitcases.

Book an Appointment to Go Through Security

You read that right! There are some airports in which CLEAR will allow you to make an appointment to go through security for free. You will select a time, put in your flight information, and then have a 20-minute window before and after your appointment. You can learn more about CLEAR Reserve here.

We used CLEAR Reserve in Orlando and it was so wonderful! Instead of having to wait the 30-minute estimated wait time for the general boarding security line, we went straight to the CLEAR Reserve line. We showed our QR code and then went straight to the TSA Agent to show our IDs and boarding passes. We were also able to go to a separate security line from general boarding which made it go by so much faster! 

If you already have a CLEAR membership, you won’t be able to use this, but anyone else can and it’s free!

Airport Security with a Toddler

Get to the Airport On Time/Early

This might seem like an obvious tip for going through airport security with a toddler that we like to ignore because of kids. But let me tell you, this has saved our buns on so many occasions! Whether it was really long security lines or a toddler who had to poop right before we got to the front of the line so we had to step out of line, take him to do his business, and then get back in line. 

You will not regret getting to the airport early! Well, maybe you will a little, but it will be SO MUCH BETTER than regretting missing your flight. 

Check the Luggage You Can

I’ve briefly touched on this, but I would most definitely recommend checking anything that you can. Obviously, don’t go into debt if your luggage will cost too much to check. But if you can, check it

With kids’ things, you can check a car seat and a stroller at no cost to you! You can also gate-check them, but then you have to take them through security. Which is totally fine! If you’re trying to free up your hands and your sanity to go through security, then I would recommend checking what you can.

If you’re flying Southwest, you are in luck because you can check two bags for free per ticketed passenger! Other airlines don’t offer this perk to every passenger. Some airlines will offer if you have an airline credit card. We have the Delta Gold card and are able to check one free bag per person (up to 8 people) on our reservation. We have loved this and it has saved us a lot! If you’re interested in learning more about the Delta Gold credit card that basically pays for itself, check it out on my DISCOUNTS page!

Airport Security with a Toddler

Wear Airport Security Friendly Clothes

I went through a phase before I had Oliver, where I loved looking super cute at the airport because then I would look cute when I got to our destination. I still love to look cute, but now that I have to juggle a lot more than I used to, I’ve learned the value of wearing “security-friendly” clothes

I’m not saying that you can’t look cute, but it definitely helps to be conscious of what you are wearing. For example, instead of lace-up shoes, maybe try to wear shoes that slip on and off. You get the idea! 

Thankfully, kids don’t have to take coats or shoes off, so you can dress them however you want!

Prepare Your Toddler

This sounds so simple but it’s sometimes the simple things that we might forget! A lot of the discomfort that our kids’ experience can be relieved by getting a good meal, some water, or some rest. Bringing snacks to help while you are in line and going through security can be huge too! Don’t worry about liquids for kids either. TSA Agents are usually pretty lenient when it comes to snacks and drinks when they are for kids as long as it’s not too excessive, like an entire Thanksgiving dinner in several Tupperware. Yep, we’ve seen it.

Changing their diaper or taking them to the bathroom before you go through airport security with a toddler can also be really helpful! The poop fiasco I mentioned earlier could have been avoided if I had taken Ollie to the bathroom before we got in line! Maybe. Toddlers are very unpredictable who knows?

I’ve also learned that in addition to preparing them physically, preparing them mentally can be helpful! We’ve found that Ollie is a lot more resilient and patient when we’ve explained what is going to happen instead of just thrusting him into the situation. He does a lot better knowing that mommy and daddy can’t hold him until the benches after the big machines and that he has to put his stuffed animals in the bins if we tell him beforehand.

Airport Security with a Toddler

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I bring milk on a plane for my toddler?

Yes! The TSA has said that toddler milk is considered medically necessary. Below is what they said about it.

Formula, breast milk, toddler drinks and baby/toddler food (to include puree pouches) in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag.,within%20a%20quart%2Dsized%20bag.

There you have it! Those are our expert tips on how to go through airport security with a toddler! If you have any tips that have worked well for you, leave them in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *