When Can Newborns Fly?
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When Can Newborns Fly? Tips for Safe Air Travel

Many new parents are curious and usually ask When Can Newborns Fly? While the age guideline for air travel with babies is about seven days, it doesn’t really mean that it should be done. Factors like the health of the baby can also impact the decision to fly with a newborn. Generally, travel before the baby is a week old is not recommended. Doctors even advise that travel should be limited for several months or, at least three months. This is to avoid exposure of the newborn to larger groups of people and prevent them from getting sick. 

Traveling with a Newborn

Air travel, which involves moving through an airport, getting on an aeroplane, through another airport, and then visiting another group of people can expose the baby to viral illnesses and other infections. Exposure is the main problem to consider when traveling with a newborn, especially by air. Since the newborns have not been fully vaccinated and are not fully protected against illnesses, vaccine-preventable diseases are also a concern at that age. From measles to flu, it is not advisable for newborns or young infants to these diseases unnecessarily, either at the airport or at the destination. This also applies to bus or train transit, as it would also expose the newborn to unfamiliar locations and diseases. In the case that air travel is inevitable, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Bring some help along, like another adult or teenager
  • Get a nonstop flight
  • Bring the baby’s birth certificate as proof of age
  • Fly during an off-peak time
  • Get the paediatrician’s opinion before travelling
  • Be prepared for any eventuality like delays, illnesses, etc.

Tips for flying with a newborn

When Can Newborns Fly internationally?
Picture courtesy: Flickr

The following are some helpful tips that will protect the baby as well as the caregiver during air travel, they are:

Age and health of the baby 

Flying with a baby in the first seven days of their life is severely cautioned against. Some healthcare professionals even suggest not travelling for the first few months. While adults and babies face the same exposure risk from travel, a baby’s immune system is still learning how to protect against illnesses and germs.

The baby’s ears 

Giving the baby something to suck may help in relieving the baby’s ear discomfort. This can be a breast, pacifier or bottle to suck on during takeoff and the beginning of the landing process. It may be helpful for the feeding times to be timed so that they fall into these times. Also, due to cabin noise levels, mainly during takeoff, cotton balls, noise-cancellation earphones or small earplugs may help in limiting the baby’s exposure to noise. This may help the baby to sleep easier.

The baby’s safety seat 

Most infant car seats are ok for air travel. Airlines also often allow infants to ride on a caregiver’s lap during a flight. However, it is recommended for infants to ride in properly secured safety seats. It is also possible that an open seat can be assigned to the infant in the case that a plane ticket was bought. Do not give medicine to the baby, like diphenhydramine to help the baby sleep during the flight. It is not recommended and can sometimes have the opposite effect.

Caregiver health and planning 

The caregiver should also plan for their health as well. This is because flying with a baby can cause stress and sleep loss, which can lower immunity, putting the adult at risk for germs and illnesses. Finding out the illnesses that are spreading in the areas of travel can help in the preparation and action of the caregiver. Also, basic germ prevention acts like hand washing are important in the prevention of the spread of germs while travelling.

Before boarding the aircraft, quickly change the diaper.  

While there are changing tables available on planes, the space is quite tight. For this reason, it is better to change diapers in a roomy airport restroom before boarding. When the flight is short, it may not be necessary till after the flight. 

Pick an aisle seat

Basic economy tickets are the cheapest, but this may mean the inability to choose a seat, which can be an issue when travelling with a baby. The airline assigns seats at the check-in, which can be a window, middle or aisle seat. When travelling with a baby, consider getting a fare that allows the advanced seat selection. This way, the option of picking a seat that can help in freer movement is possible. However, it may be possible to find kind-hearted people who may be willing to switch seats. 

Arrive early at the gate 

A huge advantage of travelling with a baby is that airlines usually allow passengers to pre-board and get settled in their seats before other passengers board. This can make it easier for the passenger and their baby. However, they must be at the gate when the boarding begins to benefit from this. This means that they should arrive at least 30 minutes before boarding time.

Bring excess baby supplies 

Some people pack only what the baby needs in an effort to pack light. However, flight delays can cause an extension of the length of the trip by several hours. This is why it is advised that a passenger travelling with a baby brings more baby food, diapers, pumped breast milk, formula or other supplies than is actually needed in order to avoid a hungry and fussy baby.

Dress the baby in layers 

A cold or warm baby can quickly grow irritable and become fussy. In order to avoid a situation, the baby should be dressed in layers that are easy to peel off when they become too warm. A blanket should also be brought in case they become too cold. Also, an extra pair of clothes should be packed.  

Common Questions about Travelling with a Newborn

When Can Newborns Fly?

When is My Baby Old Enough to Fly on an Airplane?

It is good to wait until your baby is at least seven days old before taking them on a flight. Still, it is best to delay flying until your baby is two or three months old. A newborn has a higher risk of contracting an infectious disease from air travel, especially in crowded airports.

Should My Baby Sit on My Lap During the Flight?

Though the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn’t need a ticket for children under the age of 2 years, it’s not safe to have your baby on your lap during the flight. Risks can arise from turbulence, and it might not be possible to protect your child sufficiently. Consider buying a ticket for your child and using an empty seat. You can install a car seat there for added safety. 

The Safest Way for Baby to Fly

The safest way for a baby to travel is to use child safety restraints. An example is an automobile seat or aeroplane harness device that the FAA has approved. Make sure to use a restraint that is suitable for your child’s age and size. Install it according to the airline’s instructions. On an aeroplane, booster seats are not appropriate. Rear-facing car seats are recommended for infants under 20 pounds when travelling by air.

Should I Bring Our Car Seat on the Plane?

Strollers, car seats, and booster seats normally don’t count as luggage, though each airline may have different rules. The majority of airlines charge nothing extra to check them in at the gate. Make sure your car seat is certified for use in both motor vehicles and aircraft. 

Identification and Passport Requirements

All American citizens, even babies, must have a valid passport in order to travel abroad. Long before your trip, you should apply for your baby’s passport. If there are any additional identity requirements for domestic flights, make sure to check with the airline.

Ideal Time of Day to Fly with a Baby

When can newborns fly? Your baby’s sleep schedule will determine the ideal time of day to travel with them. Try scheduling your travel to match your infant’s regular sleep hours. Be ready with comfort measures and distractions for the flight as well. 

Summary

It is not advisable to fly with a newborn. However, where it is inevitable, the passenger should not be intimidated by the prospect. Many airlines are family-friendly. They go the extra mile to make the experience enjoyable for the baby and the parent. This is achievable by following age guidelines, prioritizing safety, and implementing expert tips. It would be an easy journey with a little forethought and preparation by the parent. 

The information provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. It is not intended to replace professional medical consultation, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making any decisions regarding your health. Read more

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