If you're planning a cross-country trip to visit family and show off your new baby -- or you need to fly for any other reason -- taking your little one's age into consideration is important in planning your trip. Traveling with a newborn adds another level of stress to something that may already be stressful for some people. Having all the information can help you make it through your adventure.
A newborn who came into the world without any complications -- such as being premature -- is able to fly as young as 2 weeks, according to Shari Nethersole, M.D., of Children's Hospital, Boston, writing for FamilyEducation.com. While that is the minimum age airlines accept newborns without a doctor’s note, pediatrician Lane France of BabyCenter.com recommends that you wait until your baby is 2 to 3 months of age to be on the safe side.
Before Your Flight
Before your trip, ask your pediatrician if he feels that flying with your newborn is a safe choice. Your baby should have at least one well-child check-up prior to the flight. If you need to fly before your newborn is 2 weeks old, ask your pediatrician for a note stating your child’s age and giving permission for the flight. As a mother who has just given birth, you should also check with your obstetrician to determine what precautions, if any, you should take in regards to your own health.
Book a Seat
While federal aviation guidelines allow children under the age of 2 to ride on a parent's lap, the FAA recommends that children of any age have their own seat on the plane. Purchasing a seat for your newborn allows you to bring her car seat onboard, providing you with a safe place to strap your infant in during the flight.
During the Flight
The change in air pressure can cause some discomfort for your newborn’s ears. During takeoff and landing, nurse or offer a bottle to your infant. The sucking motion helps equalize the pressure within your baby’s ears, according to Jay L. Hoecker, M.D., of MayoClinic.com. Another helpful tip is to book an aisle seat to allow for easy access if you need to visit the lavatory for a diaper change or walk the aisle to calm your newborn. For your comfort, drink plenty of fluids and consider wearing support hose to limit the risk of blood clots, which are common in new mothers, according to Dr. Nethersole.