Three months after having Harper, our annual trip to Idaho for the Thanksgiving holiday was right around the corner. Feeling a little anxious, I hopped on the computer and researched traveling with an infant. To be honest, not much came up that left me feeling comfortable after reading. So I took it upon myself to sit down and talk with Dr. Gaitan from Kaiser Permanente, Orange County and ask her every question that was running through my mind!
When is the best time to travel with a child?
-The best time to book a flight is durning nap time. However, that isn’t always an option.
Is there anything specific I need to do when flying with a newborn?
Check with your doctor prior to travel. Each child is different, and has different needs. They will let you know what is needed and if it is safe for you to fly with them.
-Infants up to the age of two don’t need a seat unless they are flying internationally. However, it’s more comfortable for the parent and child to have their own seat. If the child has their own seat, they need to be in an FAA approved carseat. When a child is in their own carseat they feel more comfortable as they are in something familiiar and are more likely to be calm and relaxed during the flight.
Another piece of advice is to book an aisle and a middle bulkhead seat. That way you won’t have to keep asking someone to get up if there are only two of you.
Once on the plane, should I clean my area before we sit down?
-You are more than welcome to sanitize your area. Bring wipes and wipe everything down. However, you can not clean cloth seats. Bring a blanket to lay over the seat if it makes you feel more comfortable.
-The pressure during landing and take off can effect the babies Eustachian tube behind the ears. The Eustachian tube is a canal which connects the middle ear to the nasopharynx, which consists of the upper throat and the back of the nasal cavity. It regulates the pressure within the middle ear, equalizing it with the air pressure outside the body.
How can we prevent crying during take off and landing?
-Some of the best ways to help prevent pressure is to give the child a pacifier or feed them a bottle. The sucking pressure will open the tube and help the popping. When an adult travels they know to yawn or chew gum. Babies and children are not aware of this, so this will help the process. Also if a baby is sleeping during take off and landing, do not wake them.
-Do not sedate them! A lot of parents ask if it’s ok to give Benadryl, etc. We do not recommend that, as it can actually cause the opposite effect. The only time you should give a child medicine is if they have a fever, pain or it’s prescribed by a doctor.
Try holding them and rocking them. Sing to them or have their favorite toy handy. If you need to, get up and walk the aisle. Do or have something that soothes them and makes them feel comfortable. Also try feeding them again, this may help them relax and fall asleep.
For older children, try requesting a “Bulkhead Seat.” A bulkhead seat is practically a dividing wall which separates the classes or sections of a plane. These seats see a lot of action and can provide a good distraction for children.
What if people stare?
-Dont think about what other people think. You’ll never see these people again. You priority is to make that child feel comfortable and that’s it.
What about changing a diaper, there are no changing tables in the bathroom on the plane?
-Change the child’s diaper before getting on the plane. Bring lots of extra wipes, diapers and ziplock baggies. Another good idea is to bring a travel changing pad, a lot of times these come with the diaper bag. This will allow you to open the pad, lay it on the child’s seat and change their diaper. Then you can put the dirty diaper into the ziplock baggie and toss it into the diaper bag until you land. Also travel with waterless soap, that way you can wash your hands at your seat.
What about formula, will they let me bring it on the plane since its a liquid?
You are allowed to bring formula as long as it is visible. If not, make sure you can peel the label back so they can confirm. Bring as much as you can, you never know when you’ll need it or how much you’ll need!
-If your child is sick, don’t travel.
-Leave early, you will need as much time as you can get.
-Take your stroller to the gate and gate check it. You may have to wait for it once you land, but you’ll be happy you have it when walking through the airport.
-When traveling internationally, be sure to make a doctors appointment for the whole family. This way you can make sure you’re all up to date on all your vaccinations.
Note that the air in the cabin can be dry and that can cause babies to get dry. Bring saline drops for their nose. Before take off apply a few drops in their nose to keep it moist and comfortable.
-Wash your hands as often as possible.
-Bring at least 1-2 extra outfits, extra diapers, wipes and formula incase of delays.
-Wipes that can wipe off any toys or pacifiers that fall on the floor.
For more information, visit http://www.kp.org/orangecounty