Travelling With an Infant or Toddler: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Travelling with an infant or toddler can make you feel as though you are on a major journey. So much to carry, so few hands. Then there are the possible tantrums, which make most parents dread getting on a plane or train with their infant or toddler. Your child probably will cry or scream at least once in a while on a plane. It happens to all parents. But with some planning and careful packing, you can make travel easier for you and your child.

Here are a few suggestions to get you on your way.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

What do you need to pack?

For an infant

  • Keep all the baby items-and some things for you-in your carry-on bag.
    • Pack bottled water and snacks (for the mom if she is breastfeeding and for the baby if he or she is eating solid foods), bottles, pacifiers if your baby uses them, and plenty of diapers and wipes. Include a blanket and a change of clothes for the baby.
    • Pack some plastic kitchen bags to hold dirty diapers.
    • Pack an extra shirt for each parent.
    • If your child has a stuffy nose, pack a nasal bulb syringe.
    • Include a new toy or teething ring to keep the baby occupied.
  • Keep babies younger than 12 months out of the sun. If you cannot avoid the sun, use sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat that covers the back of the neck, and clothing to protect your child's skin. Put sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) on your child before he or she goes outside. Do not use sunscreen on babies younger than 6 months old.
  • If you can, bring a stroller that also includes a car seat. You can wheel your baby to the gate, where airline staff can check the stroller. If you plan to buy a separate seat for the baby, make sure your car seat is approved for air travel.
  • Consider bringing a travel playpen if you do not have a crib at your destination. Make sure the playpen has directions and warnings on how to use it safely.
    • Playpens should have spaces in the mesh material that are no greater than ½-centimetre across. Wood slats should be less than 6 centimetres apart.
    • Look for a playpen or travel crib that has top rails that lock into position. This will keep the sides from folding during use.
    • Some playpens also have a bassinet on top and a changing table.
  • Ask hotel staff whether they have kits to childproof your room. If not, bring your own plastic outlet covers and garbage bag twist ties to keep electrical and drapery cords away from your baby.

For a toddler

Much of the same advice for babies applies to toddlers, with a few additions.

  • In your carry-on bag, pack a toy or book that your child has not seen. The surprise might keep him or her busy for a good part of the flight.
  • Pack a few snacks for your toddler. Try to get him or her to eat or drink from a sippy cup during takeoff and especially during landing to help with ear pain.

Other tips

  • Breastfeed, bottle-feed, or have your baby suck on a pacifier during takeoff and landing, if possible. The sucking will help ease ear pain from air pressure. If you use formula, buy it premixed or mix it at home so you can avoid the mess of water and powder on the plane.
  • If you can be flexible, try to schedule off-peak flights, such as midweek during the day. Ask the airline to help you pick the least-full flights. If seats are empty, you may be able to have an extra seat for your child to spread out with his or her toys.
  • Get a window seat if you can. Many toddlers enjoy looking outside.
  • If you are travelling by car, take several breaks to let your child run around. If there are two adults in the car, take turns sitting in the back with your child to read some books, sing, or play games.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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