Guest Post by Emily Palmer
Air travel has become a standard form of travel. With many of us traveling for work as well as pleasure, it’s only natural to wonder how soon we can board a plane with a new bundle of joy.
How can we know if our new baby is old enough to fly with us? As a general rule, an infant should be at least two weeks old before traveling, but here are some things to factor into your decision as well.
Check with the airline
Each airline has their own regulations for traveling with children. It is important to check with the airline to learn what their rules are. Some of them will only allow infants to travel with written permission from a doctor.
Some airlines require that you travel with an infant seat, and therefore require that you purchase an additional ticket while others will allow you to fly with your infant sitting in your lap.
If your child is under the age of two, federal guidelines allow them to fly while riding in your lap, but the FAA does suggest that you purchase a seat for your child regardless of age.
Check with your pediatrician
It’s a good idea to consult with your child’s doctor before making the decision to fly. While some will give you approval at an age as early as two weeks old, others recommend waiting until your infant is able to sit alone before flying.
Some doctors will give permission to fly for infants younger than two weeks in an emergency situation, but airlines typically require written proof of that approval.
It’s especially important to get pediatrician approval if your child has recently recovered from a sinus or ear infection, or a head cold. Ask your doctor if he sees any reason your child should not fly.
Consider the season of the year
Will you be traveling during a time when illnesses are common? Exposure to certain illnesses can be especially harmful to young infants.
If outdoor temperatures are extreme, your infant may become more irritable while traveling. Remember, infants rely on you to help them regulate their temperature because they are unable to do so themselves.
Consider your child’s natural behavior
If your baby is typically irritable and fussy, chances are good that it’ll be worse during a flight. Things like pressurization and noise can affect your child’s mood. When the cabin pressurizes it can cause changes in the pressure on a baby’s ears causing discomfort.
Noises on a plane can be loud and if your baby is accustomed to very quiet spaces the noise can interrupt sleep or cause irritability.
Check the flight worthiness of your child’s seat
Most infant seats are rated to be safe for air travel, but some are not. To be safe, you should check with the manufacturer and the airline to verify your seat’s safety rating for flight.
While children under two can ride in your lap, a properly rated and secured infant seat gives you a place for your infant to rest out of your arms while providing additional safety for your child. If your airline requires an infant seat, it’s important to make sure your seat is properly certified for flight.
Consider your baby’s schedule
Newborns sleep, eat, and soil their diapers. That’s simply what they do. Before choosing to fly with your infant, consider how often you will need to feed the baby as well as how easily you can accomplish that task.
Until your baby has a relatively established routine, flying could be difficult, not to mention exhausting for you. Having an established routine can come as early as two weeks, but it can take much longer than that.
Think about your delivery
If you had complications when you gave birth, or if your baby was born prematurely, it becomes imperative to have the doctor’s approval before flying.
Babies who had issues breathing or eating the first week after birth definitely need a doctor’s approval before flying. Infants with chronic issues with their respiratory and cardiovascular systems should not fly before getting approval from medical professionals.
Consider your own health
If you had a difficult pregnancy or delivery, you may need to wait to fly for your own safety. Immediately after delivery, women have a greater potential for experiencing issues such as blood clots in their legs.
Simply having to sit in the same position for an extended amount of time can increase the risks of such complications. Consult your obstetrician to verify that you can safely fly before doing so.
While there is no specific age that is recommended for traveling with your newborn, the general rule is that the baby should be a minimum of two weeks old.
Multiple factors should be considered before you make your final decision regarding flight. If you and your baby are relatively healthy, flying is a safe travel option.
Your chosen airline may dictate the age of the child who can travel with them. It’s always best to know the regulations before choosing a flight. Consider all possible risks before making your final travel plans.
Emily Palmer is a caffeinated blogger who loves talking Decorating, Travel, Yoga, Parenting, Self-Development, and more. She can be reached at https://twitter.com/emilypalmer512 if you can’t find her at the local café.