With the holidays approaching, I have more parents asking me about air travel with their babies. Here are some tips to help make your flight a smooth one! Happy and safe travels!
- Age. There aren’t many restrictions on air travel for otherwise healthy infants. However, infants less than 7 days old should not fly. At this age they may have trouble adapting to changes in the cabin pressure.
- Ear Pain. Changes in cabin pressure can cause ears to “pop” and this can be more painful for small children whose ear tubes are not yet completely developed. Swallowing and sucking can decrease discomfort during take off and landing. Babies can breastfeed or suck on a bottle/soother. Older children might chew gum, yawn, or try breathing out with the lips and nose tightly closed.
- Keeping your baby settled. Avoid using medications to sedate your child. They could lead to potential breathing problems. Bring formula, pumped breast milk, or baby food. Keep your baby occupied with a soother, teething ring, blanket, or any special toys/books.
- Air sickness. Try to sit closer to the front of the cabin, gaze at the horizon, and direct air vents to the face. In children over age 2, you may try to use an over the counter anti-nausea medication 30-60 minutes before the flight.
- Seating. If you buy your baby her own ticket, you must have a safety seat that has a national safety label showing that it is certified for aircraft use. Otherwise, children under age 2 must be held securely in their parent’s lap.
Extra precautions for children with known medical conditions:
- Oxygen requirements. Children with sickle cell disease or known heart or lung conditions may require extra oxygen during a flight.
- Type 1 Diabetes. If you are crossing time zones, talk to your doctor to see if you might need to adjust your insulin dosing. Bring extra snacks in case meals are delayed.
- Ear infection. If possible, wait 2 weeks before air travel. If not possible, sometimes a nasal decongestant can be used before take off and landing to decrease discomfort.
- Food Allergies. Ensure you notify the airline and carry your Epipen.
- Casts. Children with fractures should ensure their fiberglass or plaster cast is bivalved to prevent circulatory issues.
- Medical supplies or medications. Speak to your physician before traveling so that they can provide you with a letter for the airline.