We’d all love to be close to our families when the baby is born. Sharing the joy and making memories with your closest loved ones is part of what makes childbirth so exciting and fun. However, if you have family outside of the United States, you know how difficult it can be to connect with those faraway family members. Especially if they are elderly and can’t pay a visit, you might consider bringing your baby to them for a visit. Before taking your baby outside of the country, you should first understand the risks and problems associated with foreign travel for infants.

By the time your baby is two years old, he or she should have all vaccinations. Until then, exposure to any germs or diseases is extremely dangerous. Even bringing your baby on a crowded plane puts him at risk for exposure to new illnesses, and then bringing him to a new country makes it an even bigger problem. Of course, some countries are more dangerous than others. Bringing your baby over the border to Canada won’t be a big deal because the strains of viruses are similar to those in the United States, both structurally and in their abundance. On the other hand, bringing your baby to a country that is less developed is more dangerous.

If you need to visit a foreign country while your baby is under the age of two or before he has gotten all of his vaccines, talk to his pediatrician about which are necessary. Traveling is necessary sometimes, and your doctor might be able to make special arrangements to have your baby vaccinated in advance. Make sure you plan far enough ahead. After the initial shot, your baby will still need a few weeks for the immunity to take full effect.

Unless you’re a pediatrician, there is no way you can make an educated decision about taking your baby out of the country. You should talk with your child’s pediatrician before traveling, even if you’re only going to Canada or a European country. Though these areas seem harmless, there could still be many viruses and infections that your baby will be extremely vulnerable to. The adult body can handle a wide variety of different germs on a daily basis, but a baby’s body needs time to build up a strong immune system before a simple infection sends him straight to the hospital.

Source: Carolyn Driver: Childhood Vaccination. Nurse Prescribing Volume 9 Issue 12 pp. 594-598 December 2011