Traveling With a Newborn Baby: By Plane
Are you planning on flying with your new baby? Be sure to first talk to your baby’s doctor. She may recommend that you wait until your baby is three months old or older. This is because a newborn’s immune system is not yet fully developed, making her more susceptible to ]]>colds]]> and other infections. At the airport and in the closed quarters of an airplane, your baby will be exposed to a lot of germs. The doctor can give you guidance as to when it is safe for your baby to take her first flight. When you are ready to plan the trip, follow the tips below.
If your baby has a health condition, such as lung problems or a cold, be sure to talk to the doctor. Depending on your baby’s health, you may need to postpone the trip. If your baby has an ear infection, the doctor may give your baby pain-relieving ear drops.
Something else to keep in mind is that airplanes have low oxygen levels. This does not cause problems with healthy people. But if your baby has a breathing problem, the doctor may want your baby to have supplemental oxygen.
There are many factors to consider if you are planning on traveling abroad. Check the Centers for Disease Control Travelers' Health website for specific information about the country you are traveling to. Also, talk to the doctor to find out if your baby needs any additional vaccinations.
On most airlines, it is free for children aged two years and under to fly if they sit on their parents’ laps. It is safer if reserve a seat for your baby. You can place her in a rear-facing car seat in an airline seat and buckle her in. Most car seats are certified for planes. Check to make sure yours is. If you do plan on bringing the car seat, tell the airline staff when you buy your tickets.
Where should you sit? Some people recommend sitting in the bulkhead seats because they offer more room. If you are going on a long flight and need a bassinet (which the airline supplies), the bulkhead seats can accommodate it. You can always get advice about seating from the airline staff when you book your reservations.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Website
Get the latest airport security information by checking the TSA’s website before your flight. On the page Traveling With Children, you can learn about what is acceptable to bring (eg, breastmilk, formula, medicines) and what the security process is like. Remember, too, that you will need to carry your baby through the metal detector. Even if your baby is sleeping in her stroller, you will have to pick her up to go through security.
Before packing, check the TSA’s website to learn about their restrictions for carry-on luggage. Be sure that you are clear about what you can bring and how you should pack it (eg, some items need to be in zip-lock bags). Here are some ideas for supplies:
- Diapers, baby wipes, diaper rash ointment, and trash bags to throw away the diapers
- Extra clothes
- Feeding supplies (eg, bottles, nipples, formula, bibs)
- Age-appropriate toys (eg, rattles, plastic rings)
- Any medicine that your baby needs
- Oral rehydration solution (ORS)—If your baby has ]]>diarrhea]]>, ORS is used to prevent ]]>dehydration]]>. The doctor may recommend that you pack ORS, which can be bought at a pharmacy.
In addition, you may want to bring your own portable stroller so that you will have it at the airport and when you reach your destination.
Dress your baby in comfortable clothes that are easy to remove for diaper changes.
Get to the airport early to give yourself plenty of time. This will help to reduce stress, especially when you and your baby go through security.
If you are traveling with someone, have your companion drop you and your baby off at the door. This will make your voyage a lot easier. Be sure to have a meeting spot so you can reunite with your companion.
With the baby supplies and your own luggage, you will have a lot to carry and keep track of. Try to check in as much of your own luggage as possible to reduce your load.
Before boarding the plane, change your baby’s diaper. The airport restroom is much more comfortable and convenient than the cramped bathroom on the plane. You may want to check to make sure that the airline does have a changing table in their bathroom. In some cases, you may be able to change your baby’s diaper in the seat.
The plane is a noisy environment. Placing cotton balls in your baby’s ears can help to muffle the sound. Do not use ear plugs because your baby could choke on them. You can find ear muffs especially made for infants for sale on the internet.
If your baby begins to cry, check to see if her diaper needs to be changed, if she is hungry, or if she is uncomfortable (eg, too hot or too cold). She may also be bothered if the sun is shining on her face. While it is distressing when your baby cries, remember that not every passenger will be able to hear her. The plane’s engines are noisy and muffle other sounds. Do your best to stay calm. If allowed, walk down the aisle with your baby.
Ear pain happens because of the changes in air pressure. But not every baby experiences ear pain. It is more likely to happen if your baby has a cold. In that case, the doctor may recommend that you postpone the trip or she may give you a pain reliever to use.
Breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, or giving your baby a pacifier can help to relieve ear pressure. The pressure becomes the most problematic when the plane takes off and when it begins to descend. You can ask the flight attendant when the descent will begin, since this differs depending on the plane’s altitude.
If you have tried feeding and using a pacifier and your baby still seems to be in pain, try rubbing her ears.
Once the plane has landed, you may want to allow other passengers to exit the plane before you. This will give you room and time to gather your belongings.
With proper planning and patience, flying with your baby can go smoothly. Remember that you can ask TSA staff and airplane attendants for help. They have helped many families travel successfully, and they are a great resource.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Traveling With Children
Transportation and Security Administration
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
American Academy of Pediatrics. Safety and prevention: flying with baby. Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Flying-with-Baby.aspx. Updated March 30, 2010. Accessed May 12, 2010.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Travel safety tips. American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/travelsafetytips.cfm. Updated June 2009. Accessed May 12, 2010.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Traveling safely with infants and children. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Travelers’ Health website. Available at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2010/chapter-7/traveling-with-infants-and-children.aspx. Updated July 27, 2009. Accessed May 12, 2010.
Children’s Physician Network. Traveling with baby. Children’s Physician Network website. Available at: http://www.cpnonline.org/CRS/CRS/pa_travelai_pep.htm. Updated October 2006. Accessed May 12, 2010.
Georgia Department of Community Health. Air travel with infant: is it safe? Georgia Health Info.gov website. Available at: http://georgiahealthinfo.gov/cms/node/130087. Updated December 2007. Accessed May 12, 2010.
Hoecker J. Infant and toddler healthy: is air travel safe for an infant? Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/air-travel-with-infant/HQ00197. Accessed May 12, 2010.
Mass General Hospital for Children. Traveling with a baby. Mass General Hospital for Children website. Available at: http://www.mgh.harvard.edu/children/childhealthatoz/articles.aspx?article=pa_travelai_pep.htm. Updated October 22, 2008. Accessed May 12, 2010.
Transportation Security Administration. Traveling with kids. Transportation Security Administration website. Available at: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/children/index.shtm. Accessed May 12, 2010.
Last reviewed June 2010 by ]]>J. Thomas Megerian, MD, PhD, FAAP]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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