When Can Infants Fly on Planes?

Flying with Babies: What Every Parent Should Know

In most cases, parents can travel by airplane with their babies as soon as one week after the birth. However, there are certain precautions and safeguards that can ensure a more pleasant and trouble-free trip for parents and babies. Parents should check with the obstetrician or pediatrician before flying with infants younger than six weeks of age to ensure that the baby is cleared for airplane travel. Babies with respiratory problems and ear infections may require special treatment in order to fly comfortably and safely or may need to wait until these conditions are controlled through medication or other medical procedures before taking a trip by airplane.

Safety Seats

Both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that parents secure their babies in safety seats during flight. While brief periods out of the safety seat are allowable for feeding, changing and cuddling, the baby should remain in the seat for the majority of the flight. Most car seats are also rated for airplane travel to provide additional safety and security; the baby may even feel more comfortable in the familiar setting of his or her car seat.

Exposure To Viruses

One risk of airplane travel is the increased exposure to viral infections in the enclosed space of an airplane cabin. This is the primary reason that most pediatricians recommend against airplane travel for babies under six weeks old; however, most breastfed babies are still protected to some extent from infection by their mother’s milk and can weather a trip with relatively little risk to their health.

Higher Risk Factors

Babies who have ear infections or respiratory difficulties typically should not fly for at least six weeks after birth. Airplane travel is especially painful for babies with ear and sinus infections because of extreme pressure changes that occur at various points during the flight. Parents should avoid flying during this time or request pain medication to help babies with ear and sinus infections feel more comfortable during the flight.

Breathing Problems

Babies with respiratory problems should not fly without the okay of the pediatrician. Lower oxygen levels in pressurized cabins can be dangerous for babies with underdeveloped lungs or other respiratory difficulties; as a result, babies who must fly may require oxygen supplementation in order to protect their health during the journey.

In most cases, parents can fly with their babies within a few days of delivery. Unnecessary travel by airplane should be avoided until after the baby is six weeks old. Parents should stock up on small toys, cuddly blankets and other comfort items for the baby in order to ensure the best, most trouble-free flight possible for everyone involved.

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