Baby’s first flight
Sure, it’s daunting to even walk out the front door with baby and gear in tow. But getting on an airplane? No worries, it’s doable!
Most pediatricians recommend that a baby be at least two months old before traveling on an airplane (although there are no official recommendations). This gives the immune system a chance to grow strong enough to resist the germs that often make the rounds in airplane ventilation systems. It also gives the two of you enough time to settle into a routine and master the art of breast- or bottle-feeding
If you cannot wait, your baby should be fine to fly after his two-week checkup – provided he has a clean bill of health and that you had a full-term pregnancy without complications. Premature babies are especially susceptible to germs, so it may take longer before they’re ready to go on an airplane trip. Airlines have different policies about age of air travel, so it’s best to check before you make plans.
Although most nursing moms feed and fly without incident, you may want to bring along a breastfeeding scarf or blanket for privacy. Make sure to wear comfy clothes, and if you are nursing, your favorite nursing shirt and bra. Traveling is tough, so make it easy for yourself wherever you can. For diapering logistics, a bulkhead seat is handy as it will give you room on the floor to lay down a changing pad. Remember to tell your travel agent that you are traveling with a baby so that you are not seated near the emergency doors.
Up, up and away with baby
Wondering about your car seat? The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommends that babies under 40 pounds be secured in car seats on airplanes, but it’s not required. Holding baby in a secure sling is allowed and it also gives you the opportunity to nurse on demand. Alternatively, you can purchase a seat for baby and use your car seat. The car seat will work rear facing for babies under 20 pounds. For more information about FAA-approved car seats and other safety information for toddler-size children see this link.
Changes in cabin pressure can be painful especially for younger children with smaller eustachian tubes (a tube in the ear that helps even out pressure). For babies, breastfeeding, sucking from a bottle or on a pacifier may provide relief, especially during takeoff and landing. If possible, your child shouldn’t fly within two weeks of having an ear infection.
As always, if you have any questions about whether your baby is healthy enough to fly, ask your pediatrician for advice. Note that airlines do not allow any baby younger than one week to fly without a doctor’s signed waiver.