You have a newborn! Congratulations! Welcome to the rollercoaster that is parenthood.
Maybe you are still pregnant, and you are dreaming about your first trip with baby.
Read on to find out the answers to these questions and more.
If you are a keen traveller and enjoy travel it is natural that you want to continue travelling once you have children and as your family grows.
Those that haven’t travelled with an infant might think you are crazy to even contemplate flying with a baby.There are plenty of travel mad families around the world to reassure you that travelling with a baby is absolutely possible.
Can you travel with a newborn on a plane?
For a healthy newborn, there is no absolute reason they cannot fly. But there are some reasons you might want to delay their first flight. Even though the cabin is pressurised oxygen levels are still slightly lower when the plane is at altitude. There are some medical conditions such as heart and lung problems that can make it dangerous for a baby to fly. In these cases, you will be under the care of a paediatrician and they will be able to advise you what age will be safe for your baby to fly.
Travelling with a newborn on a plane: Airline policy on newborn baby travel varies some airlines allow babies from 2 days of age and others require baby to be at least 2 weeks of age.
Another reason to consider delaying travel is the risk of infections within the first 3 months of life. You might want to consider delaying travel until a few weeks after the first vaccinations and until outside the “high-risk” newborn period where due to the nature of infections in this age group fever needs to be more aggressively investigated and treated.
Can I fly with a premature baby?
If your baby was born more than 2 weeks early or spent time in the newborn intensive care unit you should check with your paediatrician if there are any restrictions on flying with your newborn. Premature babies can have damage to their underdeveloped lungs and many require oxygen until their lungs are sufficiently developed. It may take many months for a premature baby to have a normal oxygen level and their blood oxygen level may still drop significantly when in the low oxygen environment of an aeroplane.
Your pediatrician may want to arrange further respiratory tests for your premature baby before clearing baby to fly.
Can I book a flight before my baby is born?
Waiting until after baby is born to book any significant trip is a good idea. Sometimes having a significant family event like a wedding will force your hand and then it is OK to go ahead and book. Otherwise, take your time, get to know each other and decide what type of travellers you will be. Ease yourself into it by choosing an easy destination not far from home.
To book a flight before baby is born you will need to call the airline and find out the policy. Usually, you can go ahead and book and then call to add a lap infant to the booking, expect a small fee. If you are wanting to book your baby their own seat most airlines won’t allow you to do this until after your baby is born. Beware the fare may be different from that of your original booking.
Can I fly with twin babies?
If you are flying alone with twins you will need to book an extra seat and take an approved car seat on board. Only one lap infant is allowed per adult. Some airlines have a policy that the second twin occupying the car seat must be a minimum of 6 months old. Check the airline website or call to find out what the policy is if you are flying alone.
You also might want to research if you can gate check the stroller or if any assistance can be provided to help you get through security and to the gate.
When you have another adult travelling with you it will be possible to book two lap infants. Some seating arrangements don’t allow more than one infant in a row of seats due to the number of available oxygen masks. A row of 3 seats may only have one extra oxygen mask. Check with the airline what the configuration is on your flight, so you can ensure you are seated correctly or at least prepare yourself if it is not possible to sit together.
What can I do to keep baby safe on a plane?
Use an approved car seat
While travelling as a lap infant is possible, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) recommends that every young child remain restrained in an approved child restraint throughout the entire flight. An approved car seat can be used or a CARES harness.
Travel during off-peak times and avoid crowds
Avoiding people and crowds reduces the risk of being exposed to infections and makes for a more pleasant experience.
Keep hands and toys clean
Wash hands with soap and water and dry thoroughly at regular intervals. Before preparing food and after changing nappies. Use hand sanitizer if clean running water isn’t available to wash hands. Don’t use pacifiers if they have been dropped or touched public surfaces such as seats and tray tables. Do not clean a pacifier by placing it in your own mouth.
Delay travel until after the first routine vaccinations
Many doctors recommend delaying non-essential travel until after the first set of vaccinations. I will talk about this more in an upcoming post. Sign up to my newsletter if you want to hear about new posts.
Protect baby from turbulence
The FAA recommends travellers remain in their seat and restrained throughout the entire flight to prevent injury from turbulence. If using an in-flight bassinet, there is usually a partial cover that can be clipped over to provide some protection in the case of turbulence. If the baby is sleeping on you and the seatbelt sign is not on having baby in a soft structured carrier or Moby wrap will allow you to have your hands free, apply the seatbelt or return them to their car seat whenever possible. Do not place baby on the floor or in the aisle.
Consider the method of transport to and from the airport
Stay safe getting to the airport and use an approved car seat, correctly installed in the rear seat of the car.
Practice safe sleep methods
During the flight ensure the space around babies’ face is free and clear of toys, blankets or pillows. After the flight, jet lag or exhaustion might affect your own sleep cycle so if you co-sleep ensure baby has a safe clear place to sleep.
International travel with baby
Don’t forget if you are flying internationally an infant they will need a passport. Allow plenty of time to arrange this before your flight. For domestic flights you may also need some form of identification for baby, a birth certificate or health insurance card is sufficient.
Do you have a baby or a baby on the way? If you have any questions about flying with a baby or just want to share your experience please leave a comment or join me over on Facebook.
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Happy Travels, Kaylie