Before we get started, it’s important to note that almost all physicians, midwives and “baby experts” advise staying home until your newborn is at least two weeks old – and one-month-old is even better. Those first couple of weeks are a very tender time for both mama and baby, so the less stressful and chaotic they are, the better. However, for some, that may not be possible and all you can do is the best you can.
Should you find yourself traveling with a baby that’s pretty fresh out of the womb, the following tips will help the two of you enjoy a safer, healthier and less-stressful travel experience.
Research airports and airlines beforehand
If possible, start contacting airlines a few months out from when your baby is born to learn more about them and their newborn policies.
Some airlines won’t let you fly with a baby before s/he’s two-weeks old, others require babies to be more than one-month-old. Some airlines provide baby-friendly equipment (cushions, baby bassinets or skycots, etc.) and others don’t. Airline carriers may require you to pay for an additional seat and to have an FAA approved car seat at the ready. Almost all airlines require some type of medical release if you choose to travel with your infant before the one-month-old mark.
The last thing you need is to find out you can’t board the plane, or you don’t have what you need to keep your infant safe, in the event of excessive turbulence or an emergency landing, so it’s worth it to research important restrictions/guidelines ahead of time.
Plan for calm and peaceful nursing
If you’re planning to breastfeed, know that the first few weeks or so can be challenging for new mothers. Women who are sure they can breastfeed confidently in public may be surprised to find they’re shyer than they think, or that they need to be far more exposed in the beginning phases of nursing than the more demure, experienced nurser needs to - which can make public nursing uncomfortable.
For this reason, find out whether your airport has a nursing lounge and locate it ahead of time. Similarly, many moms find they prefer a window seat on their plane or train, which allows themselves and baby some space away from prying eyes. Then again, some new moms prefer the aisle seat, giving you freer access to walk around if the baby is fussy. In this case, and if the flight isn’t full, flight attendants will often help you keep the seat next to you vacant so you have more space.
If you didn’t receive – or want – a nursing apron from your baby wish list, you may want to tuck a lightweight sarong or similar wrap into your nursing bag just in case your baby needs a bit of a shield from the rest of the occupants to eat more contentedly.
Bonus tip: a soft, safe baby wrap such as the Boba or the Ergobaby, helps parents or caregivers move through airports and stations handsfree, with a safely snuggled baby and no cumbersome carrier to contend with. They also support a nursing-on-the-go approach.
Allow lots of extra time
You can probably double (at least) the amount of time you typically require to pack, prepare yourself, get to the airport, navigate the airport, etc. By giving yourself an ample time cushion, it’s easier to stop and park – or sit down – to nurse or tend to your baby anytime you both need it.
If you’re driving, increase your estimated driving time by at least 30%, if not more, to accommodate your baby’s (and your) need to nurse, feed and cuddle, not to mention changing.
Let your baby sleep
It’s true that take-offs and landings can cause ear pain, but most parents have found that waking a baby to force-feed him/her to avoid fussiness, causes the exact opposite. If your baby is sleeping peacefully upon take-off/landing, go ahead and let him/her sleep. Should your baby wake up and seem fussy, then you can offer the breast or bottle as a balm.
However, know that baby’s eardrums aren’t the only thing that can expand/contract with changes in cabin pressure; their intestines are also susceptible. For this reason, it’s best to focus on more frequent, smaller feedings – and good, thorough burping – to avoid stomach/g.i. upset.
Whether you’re planning to visit eager grandparents who can’t travel themselves, went into labor while on a trip and are ready to return home, or you simply have no choice but to travel with your newborn, these tips will prepare you for a safe and peaceful trip.
Interested in taking exquisite newborn photographs to take with you when you go? Contact me, Marcela Limon, owner of Lemonshoots. I’ll make sure you have beautiful images for framed photographs or stunning coffee table albums.