How To Travel With Your Baby
How To Travel With Your Baby
You'll probably want to stick pretty close to home in the first few months after your baby's born. A new baby requires almost nonstop attention, feedings, and diaper changes, and the risk of catching something while traveling is too great. Besides, you'll probably be exhausted.
But by age 3 months or so, babies are pretty good candidates for travel, as long as the trip's fairly mellow. Infants aren't as fragile as parents sometimes fear. And your baby's less likely to view travel as a disruption now than later on. He also can't run around yet and get into trouble. So enjoy this time: Once he starts scampering about, travel becomes a far greater challenge.
Health and safety
Prepare a first-aid kit so you'll have the supplies you need for dealing with minor medical problems while traveling with your baby. Be sure to take along any prescription medications that your baby requires, even if only on occasion. (It's always when you leave the inhaler at home that your little one has an asthma attack at Grandma's.)
Fill out an emergency sheet containing contact names and numbers and your child's health information, including the names of any medications he takes, so it's handy if needed.
Take a hat for your baby to shade him from the sun in warm weather or keep his head bundled in cool weather. Sunscreen is a must, too, if you'll be spending time outdoors - no matter what season. Use sunscreen of at least SPF 15, with both UVA and UVB protection. Apply in small amounts to the face and back of hands in babies under 6 months, or more liberally wherever skin is exposed in older babies.
In the car, your baby should always ride in the back seat, in a rear-facing car seat - never in a front seat with (or without) a passenger air bag. Before you leave, make sure the car seat is properly installed and that the seat's belts are correctly threaded. Make sure the harness fits your baby snugly and securely.
Get removable shade screens for the car's side windows - available at baby supply and discount stores - to shield your baby's eyes from the sun and keep him from getting too hot. Peel-and-stick shades are more secure, and therefore safer, than those that attach with suction cups.
Keep your baby as safe as possible when you take public transit (like a bus, train, or taxi) by bringing along a car seat. The car seat will provide some protection even when there are no seat belts to strap it in.
• If you've purchased an airplane seat for your baby, bring an FAA-approved car seat for your child to sit in (this is the safest way for babies to fly). If you haven't bought a ticket for your baby, you'll be able to use the car seat only if there are empty seats on board. (For more about flying with a young child, see our list of questions to ask your airline ahead of time.)
• If your baby seems to be experiencing ear pain from air pressure changes during takeoff and landing, encourage him to breastfeed or suck on a bottle, pacifier, or sippy cup. If your baby's strapped into a car seat, it's better to have him suck on something from there than to breastfeed, since it's safest for both of you to be properly restrained. Keep in mind that not all babies need rescuing from ear pain - there are no firm medical guidelines on the topic, so just use your judgment. If your baby's sleeping soundly, leave him be and he might get through the takeoff or landing without any trouble. (He'll wake up and show his discomfort if he's bothered.)
• If you're crossing time zones and are worried about upsetting your baby's schedule, take steps to fight jet lag like shifting your baby's sleep hours for the few days leading up to your departure and exposing him to sunlight once you reach your destination. Try to avoid overscheduling the first few days of your trip, since you can't predict how disrupted your baby's rhythms might be.