By Sandy Hemphill
People do more traveling today than at any other time in history and many parents bring a baby on board wherever they go. Traveling with a baby can be tricky, though, so Dr. Pia Fenimore recently offered online her favorite 7 tips for traveling with a baby.
Fenimore, a pediatrician at Lancaster (Pennsylvania) Pediatric Associates, responds to “ask the expert” questions presented to the local newspaper. One recent question came from a mother nervous about flying/traveling cross country with a baby to meet grandparents who have trouble traveling themselves.
Fenimore’s 7 tips for traveling with a baby
- Don’t travel until the baby’s vaccinated. Crowded airplanes and family gatherings “are great places to get sick.” Flu season runs from October through May so a flu vaccination is as important as the standard line of childhood vaccinations if travel is scheduled during the seven months when influenza travels, too.
- Respect the needs of a breastfeeding mother. If you are breastfeeding, let the people at your destination know you’ll need privacy, healthy foods, restful sleep, and a minimum of stress throughout the visit.
- Babies don’t care what time it is. Don’t avoid travel due to fears of interrupting a baby’s routine. Fenimore says babies change their sleep and eating patterns all the time during the first year. They have no routine so don’t let an unusual schedule keep you home.
- Most babies are not fussy travelers. Many travel peacefully but it will pay off to keep baby’s comforts in mind just in case. Fenimore suggests purchasing a separate seat for the baby so everyone will have a little wiggle room. Carry the baby’s infant car seat on the plane so it can be used as a handy and familiar bed for baby during nap time.
- Prepare for take-off and landing. Air pressure changes with altitude, causing ears to “pop” during take-off and landing. Arrange for the baby to be breastfeeding or using a pacifier during these in-flight moments to minimize ear discomfort. Give older children and adults chewing gum to prevent air pressure from building up in the ear canal.
- Babies get bored and restless, too. During a long flight, take the baby for a walk along the plane’s aisles. Read or sing to it while sitting or walking. Take a few favorite toys for baby’s in-flight entertainment.
- Don’t sedate the baby. Try drug-free ways to keep a baby in good spirits while traveling. Don’t use sedatives or Benadryl, even in baby-size doses.
Whether the travel is for business or pleasure, these tips are sure to make traveling with a baby more pleasant for all travelers, large or small.