Health Library

Traveling With a Newborn Baby: By Plane

eating on a plane image Traveling with a newborn can be stressful. Here are some tips to follow if you are going to travel with a newborn by plane.

Note: Your doctor may advise you not to travel by plane with a child younger than 3 months of age. The risk of getting a cold or infection is higher during that time because their immune system is not yet developed. Airports and airplanes also expose babies to a lot of germs.

Babies with Health Problems

Talk to the doctor about any health problems your baby has. You may need to move the date of your trip. If your baby has an ear infection or a cold, the doctor may have you give your baby a pain reliever for ear pain to help your baby cope with pressure changes on the plane.

Keep in mind that planes have low oxygen levels. This does not cause problems for most people. Babies with breathing problems may need supplemental oxygen.

When You Travel Abroad

There are many things to think about when traveling abroad. Visit the CDC Travelers' Health websiteC to learn more about the country to which you are traveling. Also, talk to the doctor to find out if your baby needs any vaccinations before you go.

Tips for Buying Tickets

Most airlines let children 2 years of age and under fly for free if they sit on a parent’s lap. However, it is safer to buy a seat for your baby. You can put your baby in a rear-facing car seat in an airline seat and buckle your baby in. Make sure it is certified for plane use. If you do plan on bringing the car seat, tell the airline staff when you buy your tickets.

Think about where you would like to sit. Some people find bulkhead seats better because they offer more room. This also leaves room for a plane bassinet. Most airlines can supply them for long flights if you ask ahead of time. You can also get advice about seating from the airline staff when you book your tickets.

Security Tips

Get the latest airport security information by visiting the Transportation Security Administration website before your flight. Here, you can also learn about what baby items you can bring and what the security process is like. Also, keep in mind that you will need to carry your baby through a metal detector.

Your Carryon Bag

Before packing, check the TSA’s website to learn about carryon luggage. Be sure that you know what you can bring and how you should pack it. For example, some items need to be in zip-lock bags. Here are some ideas for what you may want to take with you:

  • Diapers, baby wipes, diaper rash ointment, and trash bags to throw away the diapers
  • Extra clothes
  • Feeding supplies—bottles, nipples, formula, bibs
  • Comfort items, such as toys or a pacifier
  • Any medicines that your baby needs

You may also want to bring your own stroller. This way you will have it with you when you arrive.

Your Checked Luggage

You will have a lot to carry between the baby and your carryon luggage. Try to check in as much of your own luggage as possible to reduce your load.

How to Dress Baby

Dress your baby in cozy clothes that are easy to take on and off for diaper changes.

Getting to the Airport

Get to the airport early. This will help to ease stress, especially when you and your baby go through security.

If you are traveling with someone, have that person drop you and your baby off at the door. This will make your trip a lot easier.

Diaper Changes

Change your baby’s diaper before you get on the plane. The airport restroom is much larger than the one that will be on the plane. You may want to check to make sure that the plane also has a changing table in their bathroom. You may also need to change your baby’s diaper on the plane seat.

Plane Noise

Planes are noisy. Do not put cotton balls or ear plugs in your baby’s ears. They are a choking hazard. You can use earmuffs made for infants. They are available online.

Crying

A crying baby can be stressful, but not everyone can hear the noise. The plane’s engines are noisy and muffle many sounds. Do your best to stay calm. If you are able, walk down the aisle with your baby to try to comfort them.

Ear Pain

Some babies feel ear pain from the changes in air pressure. This is often worse at takeoff and landing. Breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or giving your baby a pacifier can help to ease ear pressure. You can also try rubbing your baby’s ears.

Exiting the Plane

After the plane has landed, you may want to let others exit before you. This will give you room and time to gather your things.

With planning and patience, flying with your baby can go smoothly. Remember that you can ask staff for help. They have helped many families travel, and they are a great resource.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

Transportation and Security Administration
http://www.tsa.gov

Canadian Resources

Caring for Kids—Canadian Pediatric Society
https://caringforkids.cps.ca

Health Canada
http://www.canada.ca

References