Guest Post by: Patricia Hogenes
Mom is taking the baby on a plane flight, to visit her mother, who can’t wait to see her newborn grandchild. The baby is 5 months old – how quickly that time went! – so the visit is way overdue, but Mom and baby both needed a little time to get settled in after the birth. How can Mom make sure she is traveling safely with her first baby? Here are 5 helpful ways:
1) Take into account the age of the baby. In this case, the baby is old enough that plane travel won’t be a problem. According to Mayoclinic.com, age doesn’t really affect the ability of an infant to tolerate air travel. The doctor might discourage travel shortly after birth, but at 5 months, the baby can certainly make an airplane trip.
2) Think about baby’s ears. When taking off and landing, in particular, the change in air pressure causes changes in pressure on the middle ear. It’s why adults are advised to hold their nose and pop their ears as a plane rises. The baby can’t do that for themselves. Instead, encourage baby to nurse, suck on a bottle, or put a pacifier in their mouth, during takeoff and landing. It will allow the pressure to regulate naturally. If the baby becomes ill before a scheduled flight, check with the doctor to make sure it would be alright to make that trip.
3) Take the baby’s breathing into account. During a plane trip, especially at final flying altitude, the air pressure in the cabin of the plane is lower than air pressure at ground level. For a healthy baby, this change in oxygen level won’t pose a problem. If the baby has a respiratory condition, however, check with the family doctor. He might recommend supplemental oxygen. In addition, if the baby was born prematurely, or has a history of lung problems, a doctor might recommend that the baby not be taken for an airplane flight until after they are one year old, or later.
4) A safety seat for the baby. Take time to research and make sure to have a proper safety seat for the baby while on the plane flight. Most infant car seats are acceptable for air travel – they are certified to be safe in the air, as well as in the car – but check to make sure your car seat will work. Airlines will typically let an infant ride on Mom’s lap during a flight. But the Federal Aviation Administration recommends that instead, the infant be secured in a safety seat. If the Mom decides not to buy an extra seat for the baby, before boarding, ask if there are open seats that could be assigned to the baby, where Mom could secure the baby in a car seat. Bulkhead seats typically have the most room, so reserve one if possible.
5) Decide about medication. Some parents might consider using an over the counter medication during the flight – to help the baby sleep through the trip. This practice is not really recommended, because sometimes medication can have the opposite effect, and stimulate the child. Talk to the baby’s doctor before the trip, and discuss medication options. The doctor might suggest a trial run – give the child a dose of the medication at home to see how the baby responds to it – does it have the intended effect of allowing the baby to sleep, or keep them awake?
Before flying with a baby, take the time to check out a few safety issues beforehand. Then the plane trip will take place smoothly, and Mom gets to hear Grandma say excitedly “Oh, look at the new baby. She is just adorable!”
About the Author: While Patricia Hogenes works as a paralegal for a law office. She has been writing freelance articles 10 years, on topics as varied as law and legal matters, adolescent drug treatment, and health topics such as diabetes. She currently writes for the aviation law firm of SlackDavis.com.