Safe And Happy Travel With Your Baby

Traveling with a baby is always a challenge but by following a few parent tested tips, you can have a safer and happier trip with your child.

What is the first tip for long-distance travel with baby? Don't do it! Since we cannot always follow the first tip, there are things you can do to help make baby travel safer and more pleasant.

On Airplanes

* Although most airlines allow babies to travel free if carried by an adult, it is always better to book a seat for your baby if you can afford it. This allows the baby to ride in an infant car seat, making the trip safer and more familiar. Even if you have not booked an extra seat for your baby, bring along your car seat. In some cases, you may be allowed to change seats so that you can use an unbooked seat for your baby. If the flight you are on is full, the car seat can be checked at the terminal and returned to you upon arrival.

* Bring your baby stroller. They can usually be checked at the terminal, and you will have the stroller available to you immediately when you get off the plane. That will make the dashes across busy airports much more comfortable, as well as giving you baby seating if you stop for a snack in one of the airport snack bars.

* Bring a bottle for the baby, or be prepared to nurse on the plane. Take-offs and landings will be much more comfortable for your baby if he is sucking on something to help normalize pressure in his ears. It is also a good idea to have your baby's ears checked by your pediatrician before your trip. Ear infections do not always have obvious symptoms when they are just beginning but can be incredibly painful for a child on a plane - the same is true of nasal congestion. Sick babies and airplanes simply do not mix.

On Long Road Trips

* Be prepared to make frequent stops. Accept that ahead of time and you won't be as reluctant to make them. Babies need time out of the car seat and out of the car. The older your baby is, the less time he can handle being strapped into the seat. For a nine-month-old child, for example, who is used to spending most of the day exploring and trying new physical skills - being confined to the car seat for endless hours is cruel.

* Pack a goodie bag. For an older active baby, a selection of new toys may help keep his attention while in the car. Offer one toy at a time. Popular travel toys usually have activity potential - knobs, buttons, noises and moving things. Novelty alone will often make one toy fascinating for a long period of time.

In Any Travel Situation

* Keep baby fed and hydrated. Traveling usually requires a larger than average intake of liquids and slightly less actual food eaten. Often the novelty of a new place makes it difficult to get a baby or small child to concentrate on eating, so make sure to have plenty of nutritious liquids available to keep baby from becoming dehydrated.

* Be prepared for diaper changes in odd places. In your diaper bag, include a light blanket for laying on less-than-sterile surfaces, as well as your changing pad, diapers, etc. You may also want to include some plastic bags for storing dirty diapers until you can reach a trash can.

* Bring water from home. Strange water can easily lead to bouts of diarrhea; so carry along water from home. If that is not feasible, bottled water is slightly less likely to cause a reaction than tap water, so make bottled water your second choice.

* As much as possible, keep things normal. Travel usually makes it impossible to follow a set routine perfectly, but whenever possible, give your child a sense of the familiar. Bring along familiar bedding for your child to sleep with and a selection of favorite toys. Try to make bedtime routines as normal as possible to ensure your child has a good night sleep. Sufficient rest is key to keeping your babies happy throughout the trip and after you return home.

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