when is it safe to travel with a newborn
A newborn in car seat. Is it time to travel? – marchibas (depositphotos)

Taking a trip some weeks after delivery can help with postpartum depression while speeding up physical recovery. However, considering whether it is safe for your baby to travel at such a young age is also critical. Continue reading this guide to learn how soon you can travel with a newborn, with some of the best tips.

Do you think you are ready to travel with your newborn? While post-delivery long-haul flights can exhaust you, they can be even more tiring for your little one. Additionally, you want to make sure your newborn is safe and healthy, whether you are traveling by plane, car, or train.

Traveling with a newborn does not present any safety or health risks that should lead to you canceling your plans. You can continue ticking off travel destinations from your bucket list, making memories with your baby.

When Is It Safe to Travel with a Newborn?

Are you an avid traveler with a passion for exploring new places? People around you may have told you things like “your traveling days are over” or “you should not travel with your newborn.” Such statements can fill you with fear, holding you back from achieving your travel dreams.

Nevertheless, traveling with a newborn is not as complicated as it may sound. Many people who travel with newborns report a relatively smooth experience, contrasting with the misconceptions and myths. You should follow some basic medical recommendations to ensure your baby’s safety and health.

Medical experts suggest waiting until the baby is at least two to three months until their immune system has fully developed. However, remember that development takes place differently in newborns. Your baby may develop a strong immunity in a month, or it may take around three or four months. Generally, babies have a fully developed immune system by four months.

When Is It Safe to Fly with a Newborn by Plane?

As mentioned, you should wait until your baby is three months old to ensure their immune system has fully developed. You do not want your infant to contract an infection after all. This practice helps ensure your baby’s health.

Regarding health concerns, premature babies and those with heart and lung diseases often suffer from breathing difficulties. The low air pressure on the flight can significantly influence your baby’s health. Therefore, discussing your concerns with your pediatrician before flying with your baby is wise.

You also want to check your airline’s policies regarding flying with an infant. Different airlines have different requirements. According to Delta’s policies, the minimum age requirement for infants is typically a week old. If your infant is younger and you have to travel, you may need a written letter you’re your pediatrician.

Flying with a newborn. It's better if you can secure a bassinet
Flying with a newborn. It’s better if you can secure a bassinet – Dangubic (depositphotos)

Tips for Traveling with a Newborn on a Plane

Flying with a newborn can be pretty intimidating, especially if you have never traveled with kids. Besides the procedures becoming more complicated, the trip can get uncomfortable if you are unprepared. So, how can you ensure a smooth and comfortable flight with your new travel partner?

Here are some helpful tips to maximize comfort during your infant’s first flight.

Plan the Trip

Planning your trip and making all the necessary arrangements can mean the difference between a hectic vacation and a fun experience. Therefore, take your time to plan all the little things before boarding.

Starting with the basics, more and more air passengers have started opting for online bookings. While it is a convenient route, calling the airline reservation desk can help eliminate any future problems that may show up later to ruin your experience. In doing so, you can ensure that you provide and receive all the necessary information.

Here are some critical considerations:

  • Provide the agent with all the passengers’ ages, including your newborn child. This is also an excellent time to ask about any age limitations or specific regulations for traveling with an infant. For example, some airlines do not allow infants less than two weeks on the board. Similarly, some other airlines may charge an excess fee for baggage, like strollers and car seats.
  • Decide if you’re going to use car seat or flying the infant on your lap.
  • Ask the airline reservation for a bassinet and front row (bulkhead) seat. However, you want to avoid bulkheads if your baby is a few months old. It is especially advisable for parents carrying a considerable amount of baby supplies.
  • Avoid booking a flight during a time that clashes with your baby’s naptime. You do not want to deal with a cranky baby, after all. Furthermore, ensure your flight is not at the same time as your child’s “witching hours”- a particular time during the day when babies act annoyed and irritated.
  • Be sure to aware of the airline’s rule regarding baby stuffs you bring, for example if you fly Delta you should know Delta’s car seat policy, if you fly AA you should know American Airlines’ stroller policy, and so on.

Pack Smartly

It can be tempting to pack everything that comes to your mind. You want to make the trip as stress-free as possible, after all. However, packing smartly instead of heavily is the key to ensuring that your first flight with your newborn is smooth.

On that note, picking suitable travel bags also makes a huge difference. For instance, the right carry-on bag for all your baby’s essentials can be a lifesaver during a long-haul flight. Your bags should be easy to lift and roll while they fit with the luggage weight limitations set by the airline.

Let us look at some essential supplies that will ensure you are well-prepared for an unexpected delay or layover.

  • Extra change of clothes
  • Diapers
  • Diaper changing pad
  • Wet wipes
  • Baby Blanket
  • Empty plastic bags
  • Bibs
  • First aid
  • Ample of baby food (formula milk, baby food, etc.)
  • Extra baby bottle
  • Pacifier
  • Premeasured formula milk in separate containers or bags
  • Waterless hand cleanser
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toys (non-noisy ones to not disturb fellow passengers)
  • Any prescription medication

Prepare for the Long Day at the Airport

No matter the age of your child, parents should always reach the airport early. Traveling with a baby is stressful enough, so do anything to avoid unnecessary hassle. If you want a good start, arrive at the airport a few hours before boarding the flight.

Local Flight: Arrive at least thirty minutes before the boarding time

International flight: Arrive at least three hours before the boarding time

This way, you can go through the security and other necessary procedures without causing stress to you and your baby. You will not need to stand in long queues or rush through checkpoints. Here are some other helpful tips for your time at the airport.

  • Inform your attendant that you are traveling with a newborn as soon as you check-in. Tell them you have brought a car seat or stroller for the flight.
  • Consider gate checking your stroller so you can use it while waiting at the airport.
  • Try to check all your luggage to avoid paying additional money for carrying extra carry-on bags.
  • Change your newborn’s diaper right before boarding the flight.
  • It is best to avoid feeding your baby right before boarding, whether it is breast milk or formula. If your newborn is not too hungry, consider waiting until you have settled in your seat.

Be Alert during the Flight

Infants are incredibly unpredictable, especially on their first flight. Even the quietest and calmest of babies can act fussy on the plane. The strange surroundings can scare and make them uncomfortable, after all.

Besides dealing with a cranky child, you may also have to tolerate looks from fellow passengers. Whether you like it or not, not everyone is tolerant of crying babies, and you may even have to apologize to some. This can further add to the stress, making your flight more frustrating.

Here are some ways to help your baby stay calm.

  • Take-off and landing are the most stressful experiences for infants flying for the first time. You can help your baby adjust to the changes in air pressure by encouraging swallowing. You can use a pacifier, bottle, or breastfeeding for this.
  • During a flight, babies tend to get dehydrated more quickly than adults. Therefore, you want to make extra efforts to ensure your baby is well-hydrated.
  • Changing a diaper on a flight can be extremely challenging. While some airplane bathrooms have changing tables, others are typically smaller with congested spaces. You may need to change your newborn’s diaper on the floor if your airplane bathroom does not have a diaper station.
  • Storing baby food in the fridge is not possible on a flight. However, you can ask a flight attendant to warm the baby bottle. It is usually necessary, considering the temperature drops on flights.

When Is It Safe to Travel with a Newborn by Car?

The basics for traveling with a newborn by car are the same as traveling with a newborn by plane. Medical experts recommend waiting until a baby’s immune system has fully developed before taking them out for a trip. Your child is more vulnerable to colds and other infections when their immunity is not strong enough.

It typically takes around three months for newborns’ immune systems to mature. According to doctors, it is safe for babies a few weeks old to travel short distances. This includes traveling a few miles to the doctor’s office or taking your baby with you for groceries, given that your baby is healthy and is not suffering from any complicated health problems.

However, it is best to wait at least three months, until your newborn’s immune system matures, for longer car journeys. Ideally, you should avoid car travels that are longer than an hour. On the other hand, it is illegal to hold your infant in cars, including cabs. It is necessary to have an approved car seat according to the baby’s size and age.

Road trip with a newborn
Road trip with a newborn – Aynur_sib (depositphotos)

The Car Journey vs. the Baby’s Age

Long car drives can be highly uncomfortable for adults but even more tiring for children.

Here are some basic guidelines when planning a car trip with your infant.

Avoid Traveling for More than 30 Minutes if Your Baby is Younger than Four Weeks

Infants under four weeks of age struggle with keeping their heads upright. While some babies may be stronger individuals at this age, most do not have enough neck strength to bear the weight of their heads.

In the first few weeks after birth, there is always a risk of your newborn’s head falling forward. It can restrict your child’s airway, presenting a serious health risk. The danger chances increase when you have seated your baby in a car seat.

Ideally, you should restrict your drives to thirty minutes long if your child is younger than four weeks.

Follow the 2-Hour Rule

According to car seat manufacturers, babies should not stay in a car seat for more than two hours a day. That said, an occasional longer than two hours journey is safe, given that you take a lot of breaks. Fifteen to thirty minutes breaks are ideal if you are on a long-distance car journey. You should make stops after every two hours and remove your baby from the car seat for at least fifteen minutes.

Tips for Traveling with a Newborn in a Car

As a parent of a newborn, you may hesitate to expose your newborn to the outside world. It is full of pollutants and germs that can risk your baby’s health. The prospect of a long drive can stress out even the calmest of parents and experienced travelers.

Planning can help make your road trip comfortable for you and your baby. Before diving into some practical tips, we want to emphasize the value of car seats. The best travel car seats help protect during traveling, reducing the probability and risk of fatal injuries in case of accidents.

Here are some things you want to keep in mind for your road trip with a newborn.

Take a Practice Trip (Or Two)

Do you know a family that embarked on a long car drive with their newborn but returned before finishing their trip?

Generally speaking, babies do not like a change of scenery and environment and are most comfortable with their routine life. For that reason, they become annoying and fussy outside of the house. You do not want your newborn to dissolve into hysterics, do you?

While a fair amount of crying is inevitable, you can avoid long spans of tantrums by getting your baby used to being in the car seat. Are you planning a long road trip soon? If so, taking your baby on a practice car drive will familiarize them with their car seat. Your baby will learn to adjust to the new setting, making future trips much more manageable.

Of course, the first trip will be challenging. Therefore, it is best to avoid overdoing it and increase the distance slowly. Start with a short first trip, which should be longer than your regular car travels to the doctor’s appointment, etc. Similarly, your second road trip can be a little longer to help your newborn get comfortable in the car seat.

Once things start getting better, you can take the long trip to your parents’ place that you have been preparing for. Incrementally increasing your baby’s time in a car seat reduces the chances of your baby throwing a tantrum and causing you to turn around for home. In summary, practice can make a road trip successful.

Schedule the Right Drive Time

Making sure that your baby is comfortable throughout the journey is the key to planning a smooth road trip. Generally, babies are much happier when they are well-rested. So, how can you ensure that your baby gets enough sleep during the journey?

It all comes down to scheduling your travel at the right time. Many people recommend driving at night. They claim that your baby will stay asleep and you will be close to your destination by the time they wake up. In that case, you can have a stress-free and crying-free road trip.

However, such a plan can have quite the opposite effect, with a high probability of things not working out in your favor; avoiding driving when your baby naps or during periods of sleep is the best and safest option when traveling with a newborn in a car.

How? Traveling during your baby’s sleeping time means talking away their comfort. A clashing schedule like this can disturb your newborn’s sleeping cycle. They will not receive restful sleep, which can cause them to become fussier.

You can save yourself the stress of entertaining your baby by scheduling the journey when your baby sleeps. But it typically comes at the cost of you and your baby feeling incredibly exhausted.

Instead, scheduling the drive according to your family’s natural sleeping patterns is best. Make sure you get enough sleep before starting the journey to prepare your body for the long day ahead. Similarly, you want your baby to rest well before settling in a car seat.

Keep the morning and evening rush hour traffic in mind when planning your travel.

Ensure Proper Car Seat Installation

The travel car seat is critical in keeping your baby safe and comfortable during a long car journey. But, the wrong car seat and improper installation can present health and safety risks.

Therefore, checking whether your infant’s car seat is installed correctly is vital before settling your newborn in it. While many parents tend to ignore it and go in their way, reading the manufacturer’s manual is essential. These manuals usually tell you about the right and wrong installation methods and the risks associated with doing a step the wrong way.

Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the travel car seat in your car. Ideally, your car seat should be rear-facing when you install it at the correct angle. Not following the correct installation techniques and all the necessary steps increase the chances of your baby’s head slumping down in the seat. Being in the chin-to-chest position can gradually block their airway, and you may not realize it.

Besides installing the car seat at the right angle, you want to adjust the five-point harness correctly. Proper installation makes the car seats comfortable for babies, who may even sleep during the journey.

While car seats help protect babies in a car crash, they are also safe for napping babies. That said, picking the right car seat for your baby’s age and size is critical to benefit from the advantages.

Avoid Dressing Your Baby in Bulky Clothes

Dressing your baby in comfortable clothes is a simple, easy, and effective way to maximize comfort. Your baby is less likely to cry and get cranky when dressed in something that does not make them feel dressed.

Therefore, it is best to avoid dressing your newborn in bulky clothes. Bulky clothes, such as coats and jackets, also make car seat buckling difficult. The baby will also feel uncomfortable in the seat with heavy clothes. They may even feel heated in bulky apparel.

Additionally, the car seat’s buckles and straps may shift with the bulky clothes. Therefore, dressing your newborn in light layers is the safest and most convenient option. If you are worried about the cold temperature, consider warming your car in advance.

Simplify the Schedule

Do you have the travel itch? You may have become immune to long travel journeys over your years of traveling. However, you may have to lower your expectations from your first road with your newborn. Sticking to a strict schedule can be challenging, even unachievable, when traveling with an infant.

Of course, you want to reach your destination as soon as possible. The shorter the journey, the smoother it will be. However, it would help if you kept your offspring’s needs and your sanity in mind when making a car travel schedule.

Even the calmest and most experienced-in-traveling baby can only take as many hours in a moving vehicle. Therefore, it is essential to simplify your schedule to ensure your road trip is as hassle-free as possible.

Furthermore, you want to ensure you care for yourself and the rest of the family (spouse, other kids, etc.). While your newborn needs extra handling, forgetting about your sanity and health is not a good idea.

Make sure to schedule some rest time away from the wheel. Only when you are well yourself can you drive safely.

Take Regular Breaks

Having a successful road trip with a newborn is impossible if you do not plan regular breaks in your schedule. The sooner you accept this truth, the better your journey will be.

Planning stops at the trip’s onset reduces your chances of struggling with a crying baby. It will also keep you and the rest of the family from getting cranky. Therefore, add a few minutes of break every few hours to your itinerary. Make the stop regardless of whether you need to do something important during the break. Getting out of the car to stretch can help prevent restlessness and an aching back.

Ideally, you should stop every two or three hours during the day. You can reduce it to every four to six hours during the night. Remember that toddlers do not have the patience to stay in a closed space like a car. If your baby starts getting cranky, simply pulling over and stepping out can help them calm down.

Additionally, you want to break your long car ride into manageable segments for breastfeeding the baby or changing diapers. Feeding in a moving car can get messy, and it is also incredibly unsafe. You should only do so when your baby is starving and cannot pull over in the middle of the road. On the other hand, your baby may need a diaper change at the most inopportune time. Generally, you should not hesitate to pull over for comfort and safety. A milk spit-out fiasco? A diaper blowout? Anticipating hunger? Stop the car, and take care of the issue.

Ideally, you should plan your stops before hitting the road to ensure you still reach your destination on time. Learn about the rest stops and gas stations on the way so you do not struggle with an unexpected mechanical issue with the car. It is also wise to find baby-friendly hotels on your way in case you need a hotel stay.

Pack a Travel Bag

Whether you are a first-time parent, a travel bag is vital to ensure no hassle on your car journey with your newborn. While traveling with a baby can feel overwhelming initially, packing a travel bag with the right essentials can make it easier than you think.

Items to Keep in Front of the Car

Let us look at some essentials you want to keep in close reach (preferably at the front of the car).

Diapering Station

  • Lots of diapers
  • Diaper wipes
  • Rash cream
  • Diaper changing pads
  • Plastic bags (for dirty diapers or clothes)
  • Hand sanitizer

Feeding Supplies and Essentials

  • Breast pumps (if breastfeeding)
  • Lots of burp rags
  • Feeding bottles
  • Powdered formula

Other Essentials

  • Pacifiers (two or more)
  • Portable sound machine (optional)
  • Blankets
  • Nasal bulb suctioner
  • Change of clothes
  • UVA-blocking sun shades for the windows
  • Safety mirror (to see the baby) (or baby monitor to keep an eye on your newborn in the backseat)
  • Towel
  • First aid kit
  • Toys (for entertaining the baby)

Essentials for You

  • Snacks
  • Drinks

Other Items for the Road Trip

What and how much you pack depends on several factors. For instance, you may not need as many things for a short-distance car ride as you would for a long one. Additionally, you may have specific needs depending on your location, schedule, medical issues, etc. You want to carry the most convenient things for your car journey.

Baby Gear

  • Travel car seat
  • Baby carrier
  • Bouncer/ bassinet
  • Stroller

Sleeping Essentials

  • Swaddle (two in case one gets soiled by a diaper accident)
  • Blankets (for everyone)

Clothing

  • Outfits (two to three changes of clothes for a day)
  • Outerwear (sweaters, cardigans, etc.)
  • Sun hat/ beanie
  • Socks (two pairs for a day)
  • Shoes

Medical & Hygiene &Diapering

  • Baby soap
  • Baby shampoo
  • Laundry detergent
  • Hand wash (to clean your hands after diaper changes)
  • Dish soap (to clean pacifiers and feeding bottles)
  • Feeding bottle cleaning brush
  • Thermometer
  • Infant’s prescription medications
  • Baby medications (for fever, cold, etc.)
  • Baby brush
  • Nail clippers (for a long trip)
  • Burp rags

Feeding

  • Powdered formula
  • Feeding bottles
  • Forks and spoons
  • Plates and bowls
  • Disposable nursing pads
  • Breast pump

Pack/ Organize Your Car

Now that you know the travel bag essentials for traveling with a newborn by car, it is time to learn how to pack strategically.

How you fit all the items in your car can make a massive difference to the space in your car. Not forgetting, packing the right essentials is only useful when you can efficiently grab the needed things in time. Therefore, packing/strategically organizing your car is extremely important.

Packing your car a day or night before the day of the trip is excellent, as it will save you a lot of hassle on the day itself. You do not want to rush things or run late and end up in traffic. When organizing your car, it is a good idea to think about the items you will not need and can stow away.

In doing so, you can make space for the necessary items you will most likely need throughout the journey. When traveling with a newborn, you will need many things within arm’s reach.

Ideally, you want to keep your carry-on bags, suitcases, and other large items in the car’s trunk, like a travel crib. After all, you will probably not need access to these items at your road trip destination.

On the other hand, consider making a separate “necessity bag” for other items you will need and want en route. These include the essentials mentioned in the list of “items to keep in front of the car” above. Ideally, you should create separate feeding and diaper bags.

If your car is spacious enough, you can use the back of the vehicle for a makeshift diaper-changing table. You can especially do that if you have an SUV. These vehicles have a flat trunk and just the right height for changing a newborn’s diaper. Utilizing the extra space makes pit-stop diaper changes considerably easier and quicker.

Additionally, you want to designate a space in the car to throw your trash. While a trash bin is excellent, trash bags can work well too. You can install them around the headrest of the front car seat. If you want extra organization, consider using back-of-the-seat organizers for placing toys and other necessities.

Is It Safe to Travel with a Newborn by Train?

Traveling by train offers an incredible experience for adults. It is a safe, comfortable, and eco-friendly mode of transportation. You can relax in your seat and enjoy the beautiful views as you wait to reach your destination.

However, does the train offer the same comfort level for babies, particularly newborns? More importantly, you may wonder if a train journey is safe for a newborn. Generally, many people report that traveling by train is the best- most comfortable, and safest option for passengers with newborns.

While the train offers many advantages, what goes for traveling by plane or car goes for train travel. In other words, you must check in with your pediatrician if your baby is only a few weeks old. Ideally, you should wait until your newborn is three months old before planning their first trip. By this time, most children have developed their immune systems and are ready to see the world.

Train riding is generally the least stressful for both mother and the baby
Train riding is generally the least stressful for both mother and the baby – Markus Winkler (unsplash)

Tips for Traveling with a Newborn on a Train

While you may have heard that traveling by train is the safest option, doing so for the first time can feel overwhelming and challenging. Not only is your baby new to traveling, but you also probably have no experience caring for such a young child on a train.

However, traveling with a newborn on a train is not so complicated. You can ensure a successful train journey by learning about some practical tips. Here are the top tips to make your travel experience much smoother.

Wear Your Infant

Have you ever wondered why most people say traveling by train is a great time for young travelers, including infants and toddlers? Well, trains are incredibly comfortable – a sure-fire sleep-inducing method of transport.

Sleep will most likely not be a problem for your baby, and they will get restful sleep whenever they want. Not to mention, you can also sleep comfortably on the train. However, make sure to use a soft baby carrier. This way, you do not have to worry about your baby’s safety when taking a nap.

Baby carriers allow you to keep your baby close to you and move around naturally and comfortably. If you are purchasing one for your trip, trying both harness and sling carriers is excellent to find a comfortable one for you and your baby.

Reach The Station Early

Reaching your train station early has similar benefits to arriving at the airport a few hours before boarding the flight. Traveling with an infant is a new experience, so it is only natural you want to make it hassle-free. You want to avoid the stress of missing the train or not being able to find your seat, do you not? Arriving early is the only way to minimize unnecessary stress when traveling with a newborn on a train.

Reaching your train early before other passengers will allow you to learn about the train and its services. For example, some train cars are specifically for families. These have additional amenities, such as changing tables in the bathroom. You can find a seat in one of these train cars if you reach before it gets full.

Let the Staff Help

Trains traveling over long distances are usually fully-staffed. This allows them to be friendlier and more helpful to the passengers as the tasks are divided. While you may hesitate to trust them, letting your train’s staff members remove some of your stress is wise.

For instance, you may need to store the baby’s food (breastmilk or formula) in the refrigerator. Or, you may need to heat the feeding bottle before feeding your newborn. You can ask the train’s staff to do these tasks for you.

Pack Smartly

Packing for a train journey is similar to how you would do for air and road travel. Here are some things to remember when packing for train travel with your newborn.

Pack Baby’s Clothes Separately

Train journeys are usually long, meaning your baby will need diaper changes a few times before you reach your destination. Ideally, you should pack around four to five outfits for a day of traveling.

Keep the Baby’s Feeding Supplies within Reach

You want to make a separate bag for your newborn’s feeding supplies so that you do not have to open bigger bags frequently.

Bottom Line

Traveling with young children can be challenging. It is overwhelming, even scary, for parents who have never traveled with an infant.

If you have a newborn, you and your child may still be trying to adjust to many different things. Traveling can be especially tricky if your baby does not like being in new places. While a few crying tantrums are inevitable, your trip with your newborn should not be a huge struggle.

Ideally, newborn babies should not travel before three months. So if your child is younger, consider waiting until their immune system fully develops. Do not forget to refer to our tips for traveling with a newborn by plane, car, or train!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment