Age for Infant Travel – How Young is Too Young?
In some ways, traveling with an infant is super simple. They are interested in most anything… like clouds and your car keys and are perfectly happy being held or carried all the time. The tiniest infants sleep a lot and are too young to need to run around (like toddlers) or whine about being bored in impressionist museums (like husbands) or whine about everything being ‘lame’ (like tweens and teenagers). What is the perfect age for the infant travel?
and darn it…isn’t there always a but??….
preparation is KEY!
Age for Infant Travel – How Young is too Young?
First things first, check with your pediatrician about the best age for infant travel. You’ll need to be armed with an official dr’s recommendation if you intend to fly with a baby before your own mother and mother-in-law think it is a good idea! You know you’ll get lots of judgement!
Research turns up no hard and fast rules about flying with an infant, but some food for thought includes:
Vaccines- Consider waiting on that first round of vaccine before you fly as you’ll be surrounded by germs from all over
Routine – Be aware, tiny babies are often unpredictable. It might be easiest to wait until baby has a routine.
Airborne germs – You’ll likely be exposing baby to airborne germs in large groups like an airplane are less of a problem than you might guess. Read more about HEPA air filters on planes.
Age for Infant Travel – Is Mom Ready?
Just as every mom is unique so is every birth story. You’ll read and hear about moms who have barely any pain medicine and only 2 minutes of hard labor and go home from the hospital wearing their pre -pregnancy jeans. If these women really exist (notice that no one every says I went home in my pre-pregnancy jeans) let’s just try not to hate them too much.
On the other hand, you are much more likely to go home from the hospital a little swollen and with a bit of a war story about your pain. Instead of pre-pregnancy jeans, you’ll probably be wearing a maternity top, soggy nursing bra, and those hideous mesh panties that the devil’s fashion advisor must have designed. So, when you think about travel think about whether or not you are ready for travel.
In my humble opinion consider these issues:
Sleep – While newborns supposedly sleep a lot and I say supposedly because mine certainly didn’t, that doesn’t mean mom gets lot of sleep. Is it the constant stream of visitors that keeps you from getting rest? Maybe it is worrying that the baby will stop breathing if you aren’t staring at it that keeps you from resting? OR just the indescribable fascination and love for your new bundle that keeps you from sleeping? Who knows, but sleep isn’t as easy to come by as you might expect. If it even harder if this baby isn’t your first.
Hormones – For a while, as your hormones settle down from pregnancy and nursing, or not nursing (and why – seriously WHY does the hormone ‘settling down’ have to be such a crazy roller coaster??) you’ll be hot and sweaty for a few minutes…then good again, then sad, then happy, then sweaty, then good…. If you have to be on the move, bring support staff like husband or mom and wear layers.
Mom’s comfort – To be delicate, giving birth to such a teeny, tiny person is brutal on your body. If you gave birth naturally you’ll be sore in places and ways that will shock you. I’ve heard that some women even have a bruised look on their face from all the pushing. After all that pushing…don’t push yourself to travel before you are ready.
If you have had a c-section, you’ll want to cut yourself some slack. You’ve had major surgery for heaven’s sake! Get back to feeling 100% after the dr clears you to travel.
Age for Infant Travel – Check Airline Policy
If you are hoping to fly with a brand new baby you need to check the airline policy to make sure you meet all the requirements.
Southwest Airlines Infant Information – Infants who are traveling under the age of 14 days need medical release.
Jet Blue Infant Information – Infants must be at least 3 days old.
Delta Infant Information – Infants under 7 days need dr’s note.
American Airlines Infant Information – Infants can fly as young as 2 days old! But, infants under 7 days old needs a passenger medical form filled out by a dr. Call to request a form be sent directly to your dr.
United Infant Information – Infants must be at least 7 days old and there is no mention of a dr’s note or documentation required but incubators are not allowed.
Spirit Infant Information – Infants must be at least 7 days old and no dr’s note is mentioned. BUT, no incubators or ‘other life support system’ is allowed.
Frontier Infant Information – Infants must be at least 7 days old and a birth certificate may be needed if ‘the baby’s age seems questionable.’ Hmmmm….I’d bring one for sure just be safe.
Turkish Airlines Infant Information – This is my ALL time favorite airline. Infants can fly between 2 and 7 days old if there is a dr’s note ‘that says there is no particular reason for an infant not to fly’. Since it is hard to tell the difference between and infant who is only 7 days old and needs a dr’s note and an 8 day old infant who doesn’t, I’d be sure to bring along a birth certificate!
Lufthansa Infant Information – There is no minimum age mentioned, just information on lap carrying which is allowed until baby is 2 years of age. If you are flying Lufthansa, call first!
Alaska Infant Information – There is no minimum age for air travel with Alaska Air – that is specifically written that way, but they suggest you check with your dr if you are unsure about whether or not your baby is ready to fly. You might be required to show age documentation such as a birth certificate or passport so bring that along just in case.
Hawaiian Air Infant Information– Infants less than 7 days old must have a letter of approval from a dr that states the child will not require any ‘extraordinary medical assistance during the flight’ that is dated ONE day within travel. Also, a birth certificate or passport is required to show age.
Emirates Infant Information – Infants less than 7 days old are only permitted to fly if they require an incubator or if the mother is flying for ‘compassionate grounds’. Call to see if you qualify for compassionate grounds.
Do your planning before traveling with baby! Check out these articles for more tips.
Happy Travels with Baby,
Natalie, The Educational Tourist