Is It Safe to Travel with a Newborn?

by Nicole Gorton, MD, Pediatrician

Scripps Health offers guidance for travel with newborn babies.

Traveling can be challenging under the best circumstances, and traveling with an infant only increases that difficulty. But even before you start considering the logistics of going from point A to point B, I recommend waiting until your child is at least 3 months old before going on a trip — especially on an airplane. Infant immune systems are precarious at first. You don’t want to risk exposing them to an illness en route.

Traveling after 3 months of age

There are advantages and disadvantages to traveling with a baby. On the good side, it’s probably easier than going with a toddler, who may need to be in constant motion and won’t adjust well to all the restrictions on a plane — or even in a car for long periods.

On a flight, a pressurized cabin can be an uncomfortable experience for a baby. Bring something for them to drink or chew on during takeoff and landing. This should help equalize some of the pressure issues. Consider what time zone you’re visiting. You can either shift the baby’s sleep schedule beforehand. If you keep it the same during the trip, just know this could lead to some early mornings or late nights, depending on which direction you’re traveling.

If you’re going by car, set up a sunshade in the window. Too much sun can hurt their eyes and their skin. Plus, it makes them too hot.

Pack accordingly

Put together a survival kit before you go. Think of it as an extended diaper bag. Include your child’s medications, medical history and a list of allergies, if applicable. Make sure you have enough diapers, changes of clothes and food. Bring a few favorite toys, as well. If you’re going to somewhere warm and exotic, keep your baby covered and use sunscreen. Always have a car seat ready. And bring a portable stroller, sling or both. Hotels often have cribs upon request.

This Scripps Health and Wellness tip was provided by Nicole Gorton, MD, a pediatrician at Scripps Coastal Medical Center in San Diego.