Traveling with a newborn can seem rather intimidating if you have never done it before. We have put together a few tips and some advice on how to carefully plan for your trip to help your entire process go a little smoother.
Flying with a Newborn
When booking your airline, it is important to note if they have any age restrictions. Some airlines allow newborns as early as two weeks, while others require that your baby is at least two months old. Depending on the airline, they may require a medical release form before you can board the plane. It is always a good idea to bring your baby’s birth certificate with you to help verify their age if the airline requires it.
Pediatricians usually advise parents to wait until their baby is at least one month of age. This allows for your newborn to have received their first round of vaccines and gives their immune system a little more time to mature before being around so many people. In flight conditions are filled with temperature changes, noise, and pressure which might all make a newborn quite uncomfortable.
When it comes to flying with a newborn here are a few things to consider:
- Flight Fare – The majority of airlines will allow babies and children under the age of two to fly for free if they are seated on their parent’s lap. If you wish to bring the car seat along during the flight, you can purchase a seat for your baby. Some airlines offer this ticket at a 25 percent discounted rate from the average fare.
- International Flights – When flying internationally, some airlines do charge a 10 to 20 percent of a full adult fare ticket. This will depend on taxes and other conditions. If you are traveling internationally, babies are required to present a passport regardless of their age.
- Baby Bassinets – Some airlines allow you to request for a sky cot or baby bassinet to provide a small bed for infants eight months or younger. Make sure to confirm availability with your airline before flight.
- Car Seat Tickets – If you are bringing your own car seat, make sure to check with the airline beforehand that your car seat will be allowed inside of the plane. Look for a carseat that is FAA approved or restraining seats within the plane.
- TSA Rules – The TSA 3.4 ounce rule does not apply to breastmilk. Formula, breast milk and juice are allowed on the plane in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces in carry on baggage. Ice packs, frozen gel packs, and other cooling devices are allowed in your carry on if used to keep milk cold. These items may be subject to screening.
- Take Advantage of Boarding – Take advantage of the early boarding process for families with young children, this will help give you time to settle in without feeling pressured to go quickly for the crowd.
- Suck on Take Off – During takeoff and landing have your baby nurse, take a bottle, or use a pacifier to help with air pressure. The sucking motion will help baby’s to pop their ears with the pressurization occurring.
Is Flying Safe for Newborns?
There are two issues that should be considered when it comes to flying with your newborn. Newborns do not have developed immune systems, they could get germs or sick from the air or things around them. Before you leave, it is best to make sure that the baby is healthy before departure. A good practice to follow is to sanitize anything that your little one will get in contact with throughout the journey.
Another thing to consider is turbulence or possible injuries. Many newborns fly as lap infants. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) advocates against this. This is because turbulence can happen unexpectedly and it is hard to securely hold a newborn during these times. This is why the FAA recommends that you bring your own FAA- approved car seat for the flight. However, if your infant is a lap infant, you would need to make sure that you can get a vacant seat to secure your baby in during the flight.
Traveling by Train
The same rule of thumb as the plane applies for a baby traveling by train. Pediatricians recommend that you wait to bring your baby into crowds if they are younger than three months of age. This is again because of their still developing immune system. Make sure to talk to their doctor before making any travel plans.
Here are a few tips to help traveling by train easier with a newborn:
- Baby Wear – If you plan on doing a lot of walking around, like you would on a train, wearing your baby is a great option. This helps you be able to move around more naturally and easily. Baby’s also love being close to their parents and feeling their warmth. The movement of the train, along with your swaying, will also help lull your little one to sleep. You could use a cloth carrier or one with a harness that allows your baby to face front.
- Research your Train – Some train cars are designed as a family car. If this option is available to you it could make the whole trip that much easier. They may have changing tables within the bathroom or a play area within the car.
- Store your Luggage – When traveling on a train, there are many cubbies and areas that allow you to store your luggage. This lets you have more freedom and less to worry about, so that you can focus on the baby. Just make sure that you don’t leave any luggage behind!
- Make Friends with the Staff – If you have breastmilk or formula that needs to be refrigerated, let the staff know as soon as you board the plane. They should also be able to help you when it is time to heat up the bottle. Tips also go a long way on trains, throwing a few dollars the staff’s way may help them come a little faster when you need it.
Traveling by Car with a Newborn
When it comes to traveling by car, there are not as many restrictions as there are with a plane or train. But it is important to keep in mind your baby’s immune system and its development. You will need to plan accordingly to break every hour or so for changing, cuddling, and feeding.
Here are a few tips for taking a road trip with a newborn:
- Take Practice Trips – This will help you get an idea of what works best for you and your baby on the road. Try a few quick day trips before going on a big trip. These mini runs will help you learn what you need to pack and be better prepared for what a longer trip might look like.
- Drive Comfortably – Try and plan your drive according to your sleep schedule. This will help to keep your little one in their routine as best as possible. Dress your baby comfortably. This means loose clothing or pajamas. Try and use removable window shades to help keep them shaded during the day. You may need to bring a blanket for them, just in case the temperature drops. Remember that newborns struggle to regulate their body temperature.
- Play Some Music- Music can help keep your baby in a good mood, or if you are lucky, help to lull them to sleep. You may even want to find a white noise track to help baby fall into bedtime, before you play your own music of choice.
A Few Extra Tips on How to Best Prepare
It can be hard to know exactly how your trip with your newborn will go, but there are a few situations you can prepare for along the way:
- A Diaper Explosion – Having a diaper disaster is very likely to occur at some point along your trip. Make sure to always have baby wipes and an extra pair of clothes handy just in case. Some parents like to carry a small plastic bag or a wet bag to put the soiled clothes in.
- Pack All Essentials Together – Try getting a packing cube and fill it with all of the things you will need the most to keep it handy. Include items such as tissues, wet wipes, extra diapers, bottles, pacifiers, swaddle, nursing cover, and a blanket.
- Try to Avoid Overpacking – While as a new parent you might want to overpack for the occasion, you will soon find that it is not fun to carry around all of the extra things you don’t need.
- Bring Extra Milk – If you are breastfeeding this one is easy, but if you are formula feeding or using expressed breastmilk make sure to bring extra of it. Some babies may want to feed more when out in an unknown place.
- Don’t Stress Out – If your baby is screaming and crying during the trip, it is alright, try not to stress out. You can’t stop your baby from feeling the way that they do, just apologize if you feel the need and do what is best for you and your baby.
- Plan to do Laundry – A baby needs to be clean. If you are staying in one place for a few days, ask about their laundry services, or pack some detergent to hand wash and line dry if need be.
- Simplify your Schedule – Try not to cram pack your schedule with activities. You may find that your plans will quickly change, depending on how the baby is feeling and how the day goes. Embrace the changes and try again the next day.