Traveling with an infant or toddler is at the very least a stressful time. Since carrying an infant in a wrap, a sling or some other kind of baby carrier is known to have a calming effect on young children, parents often wonder whether they can go through airport security wearing a baby carrier.
I know because I too have asked this same question, a few times. So after doing some research on the subject I decided to share what I found with you!
The different types of baby carriers and how they are treated by airport security
There are five main types of baby carriers and the rules can vary from one type to the other and even from country to country, or airport to airport.
To answer this question fully, let’s take a look at the different baby carriers available and what rules apply to wearing them through airport security.
For more information on the different types of baby carriers, check out our post breaking down in excruciating details each of the different types of baby carriers.
Wraps are the simplest of baby carriers. A wrap is simply a long, fairly wide piece of fabric that you wrap around yourself and your baby. This puts your baby in a safe and snug position next to your body.
Many parents swear by baby carriers. At the airport, they are great for keeping a small child safe and secure while the parent’s hands are free to hold the hand of another child and cart the luggage along.
A wrap has the added advantage that it offers privacy for breastfeeding when you wear the baby on your front. You can also have the baby on your back or your hip.
What about going through the security gate with a baby in a baby carrier?
According to TSA rules and regulations, you don’t have to remove your baby from their carrier when you go through the security gate. You can go through the metal detector with your child in the wrap, but you may be asked to undergo additional screening.
This will consist of having your hands scanned or swabbed for chemical residue, and maybe a modified pat-down.
A sling is also a long piece of fabric that the baby sits in. The sling goes over your one shoulder and the baby sits on your opposite hip in the pouch that is formed when you tie the loose ends of the fabric through two rings.
This type of baby carrier is just as popular with parents as the wrap and for the same reasons.
Can you go through security with your baby in a sling?
Yes, you can. In the TSA rules, slings are specifically mentioned: “Infants may be carried in a sling through the walk-through metal detector but may be subject to additional screening.”
Soft-structured baby carriers
Soft-structured carriers are made with a padded rectangle for the baby’s body and four straps: two padded straps that go over the wearer’s shoulders and two that go around the waist.
This type of baby carrier is popular with many parents. The fact that the straps are adjustable means that you can tie your child to you to suit both of you. This type of baby carrier, if worn correctly, distributes the weight of the baby evenly, which makes it comfortable for the parent.
Soft-structured baby carriers are not mentioned in the TSA regulations. In all likelihood, you won’t be required to remove it, but to be safe, be prepared to remove it if asked.
The Mei Tai is a great baby carrier. It is constructed in such a way and ties onto your body in such a way that you are comfortable and your baby is very secure.
Originating from Asia, this type of baby carrier has been in use for centuries. It consists of a square panel in the center that forms the seat for the baby. It has two padded straps that go over the shoulders of the wearer and two straps that go around the waist. The shoulder straps are tied in a cross over the back and then around the wearer’s body.
The Mei Tai is also not mentioned specifically in the TSA regulations. Although you’ll probably be allowed through the security gate without having to remove your child, be prepared to do so if asked.
A backpack carrier has a solid structure with fabric that fits onto a metal frame. Backpack carriers come with padded shoulder straps for wearer comfort as well as straps that are tied around the wearer’s waist.
Although you can fold up your backpack carrier and it then becomes quite compact, its dimensions in most cases exceed the required dimensions for carry-on luggage. This means you won’t be able to walk with it through security, you will have to check it in with the rest of your luggage.
A final word
People have had different experiences at different airports. Some airports always allow soft baby carriers and then you might also find that things have changed since the last time you traveled.
The best is to be prepared to remove the carrier if asked to do so. So make sure you take a carrier that is easy to put on and take off.
Paul is a passionate dad who founded Upside Dad to share his parenting journey with other new parents. He graduated from Concordia University and worked as a test engineer for over a decade. Paul loves dad jokes and craft beer.
Learn more about Paul and Upside Dad here.