Is it safe to travel on an airplane with a baby?
Is it safe to take a 2.5-month-old healthy baby on the plane for a long trip? We have two stops and the longest flight is 9 hours overnight. If it’s safe, do you have recommendations on how to keep him happy during this time?
Yes, It’s safe to take baby on an airplane
You may be surprised to learn that two-and-a-half-months old is one of the easiest ages to travel with a baby. When babies are mobile, such as between one and two years, is when air travel is more challenging. Remember, “home” to a tiny baby is next to mother. Here are some health and safety tips to best enjoy your long flight:
- Wear your baby. To keep baby safe, content and out of reach of admiring hands pawing at your adorable baby, nestle him a sling-type carrier. This method of baby-wearing helps you wear him through crowds, busy airports, and to breastfeed discretely. You can also let him nestle comfortably in the carrier throughout the flight.
- Seat comfortably. Many international carriers have special seats in the bulkhead section with pull-down bassinets. Request one of these. These are so comfortable for baby and mommy because you can sit right in front of your baby while he sleeps comfortably in the cradle-like bed in front of you. You also may find an aisle seat more manageable, allowing you to more easily walk up and down the aisle to lull your baby to sleep. If traveling with dad, book an aisle seat and window seat. In case the flight is full, most airlines will leave the center seat vacant for the traveling baby.
- Keep littles noses clear. The low humidity of cabin air may dry out your baby’s narrow nasal passages. Take along saltwater nose drops and squirt a couple drops in each nostril every hour or two. Another simple way to humidify the air is to place a washcloth moistened with warm water in front of your baby’s nose.
- Protect little ears. Put baby earmuffs on your infant throughout the whole flight. The constant airline noise, especially for nine hours, is not friendly to little ears. Also, the Eustachian tubes (tiny tubes connecting the middle-ear cavity with the throat to equalize pressure on both sides of the eardrum) open and close as the pressure changes with changing altitude. Allowing your baby to suck during takeoff and landing helps the Eustachian tubes equalize the pressure in the middle ear to prevent ear pain. Takeoff doesn’t seem to bother little ears as much as landing.
- Baby needs a happy, rested mother. Just like at home, during travel be sure to keep yourself well-hydrated on the plane with sips of warm water as frequently as you can. Also, be sure to pack your favorite snacks.
- It’s playtime in the air. At two-and-a-half-months, your baby will most enjoy hand toys, such as rattles and rings. Bring along some novel ones that he hasn’t seen before, which will keep him engaged longer.
I still remember Lauren (baby number eight) on a flight from Los Angeles to London and how much we both enjoyed that touch time together. Taking our nine-month-old, Erin (baby number five), from Los Angeles to Australia was also a joy as Bill and I played “pass the baby” during much of the flight. I would nurse her and hand her to Bill to “father nurse her” with his deep voice and neck nestle while I got some sleep.
On this long flight, sit back and enjoy this precious, uninterrupted, skin-to-skin and eye-to-eye contact since at 35,000 feet phones don’t ring and nobody is likely to bother you. Enjoy your trip!
Info on traveling with toddlers, click here.
Written by: Martha Sears, RN
Martha is the mother of Dr. Bill’s eight children, a registered nurse, a former childbirth educator, a La Leche League leader, and a lactation consultant. Martha is the co-author of 25 parenting books and is a popular lecturer and media guest drawing on her 18 years of breastfeeding experience with her eight children (including Stephen with Down Syndrome and Lauren, her adopted daughter). Martha speaks frequently at national parenting conferences and is noted for her advice on how to handle the most common problems facing today’s mothers with their changing lifestyles. Martha is able to connect with both full-time, stay-at-home mothers and working mothers because she herself has experienced both styles of parenting. Martha takes great pride in referring to herself as a “professional mother” and one of her favorite quips when someone voices their concern about her having eight children in an already populated world is: “The world needs my children.”