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PM Pediatrics
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Dr. Christina Johns
Senior Medical Advisor, PM Pediatrics

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Secure Your Sanity First, Then Your Child’s

So…you’re thinking of going on a vacation with your small child.

And you need to fly.

With her.

Let’s do what our moms told us to do and make a list of pros and cons to determine if we should proceed with the plan.

PROS:

-fun time
-showing your child a new experience
-getting away from it all, with the possible inclusion of fabulous food and a groovy tropical drink

CON:

-the airplane ride. Round trip.

Admit it. This is stressful.

You envision the other passengers’ dirty looks as your toddler makes her way down the aisle. And to pile on JUST a little more, now you think she might get sick on the plane, so in less than 5 minutes you’ve talked yourself out of this great vacation! Don’t miss out on a cool trip just because of THIS – here’s why.

While there is potential for higher risk of illness from flying due to limited ventilation, re-circulated air, and increased exposure time (if another passenger is carrying an illness), good news! — the chance of catching something on a plane is very small. Filters in the cabins remove most bacteria/viruses from the circulating air and most illnesses are transmitted via direct contact, not through the air. So, the chance of acquiring a respiratory illness on a flight is perhaps no different from travel on a subway or bus or train. Hand-washing is still the best preventative measure!

A few caveats that you should know…

1) Many pediatricians will recommend that you NOT fly with an infant prior to the first round of vaccinations.

2) Bring your epi-pen if your kid has food allergies – there are some airlines that are peanut-free. However it is impossible for the airline to screen what foods others bring on board. If your child has a known allergy, always carry necessary medication (antihistamine, epi-pen) with you and alert the flight crew if it is severe.

3) You can do it, but it might not be not fun to fly with an ear infection – changes in cabin pressure can affect pressure in the middle ear, and children can have a hard time equilibrating as they are not as equipped to chew, swallow, or yawn to help alleviate discomfort. Pain medication will work, but if you want to make it a little more enjoyable for your child, bring (age appropriate) candies like Starburst, Tootsie Rolls, or chewing gum to alleviate ear pressure during take off and landing.

Some other (more practical, less medical) tips:

• Most airlines will check carseat/stroller at the gate (for free). Both have to be folded and put on the security belt (and the child carried through the detector) but can otherwise be used to transport the child through the rest of the airport.

• I know a lot of people who load a few movies on an iPad to distract their kids throughout the flight (be kind to your neighbors – pack extra headphones!).

• You do not have to purchase a seat for your child if he/she is under 2 years old. However, if you wish to bring the carseat on board with the option to keep the child in it (most carseats are FAA-approved), you need to purchase an additional seat.

• Keep the kiddos comfortable. Don’t forget the portable pillows & blankets, and maybe even their favorite little stuffed animal.

In conclusion – make sure you are prepared and informed prior to airplane travel with your child, but put your fears aside and take that great trip with your kids!

Alright, back to the list. The PROs are outweighing the CONs so I think that tropical drink is calling you and your adventure awaits. Now make sure your tray table is secured in its upright and locked position. And have a great trip!

Go to previous article: A red eye outta nowhere!

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