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When Kelly Burch was pregnant with her second child, her thoughts drifted to planning a family trip to her husband’s birth place in Australia. Although her husband was skeptical about taking two children (one of them a newborn) on a long-haul flight from Boston to Down Under, she figured they could pull it off with a little advance planning.

The first order of business was to consult the pediatrician. “We were planning to fly when my baby was about 8 weeks old, which is normally when babies get their first vaccines,” Burch says. The doctor was accommodating and moved the shots up to six weeks so they’d have a two-week window before flying. “I think it helped that the pediatrician is Filipino and used to doing similar long-haul flights,” Burch says.

bassinet
If flying long haul with your infant, be sure to book a bassinet to make the trip more comfortable for your little one — and you. (Photo by Dangubic / Getty Images)

Leave Time for Shots

So, how young is too young to fly? Candice Dye, a pediatrician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says waiting until they’re at least two to three months old is a good idea. “Since they are vaccinated by this time, they might need less invasive care even if they do fall sick after the flight,” she says.

Of course, there are times when flying with newborn babies simply can’t be helped. Amy Stephens Salmon flew with her toddler and her seven-day-old son from Texas to Alabama to be with her in-laws because Salmon’s husband was leaving to  study abroad in Lithuania. They figured that being with family would be a help for postpartum mom and children.

Mother and baby looking out airplane window
Photo by Marc Romanelli / Getty Images

Two weeks later, Salmon flew again with both children from Alabama to her parents in Houston because she found an agency in the city that could help everyone get passports quickly. Documents in hand, she and her children traveled yet again to Vilnius, Lithuania, to meet her husband when their baby was a little more than three weeks old.

“I didn’t really feel ready to fly with my second when he was just one week old, but I just kept telling myself that I can do hard things and it would all be worth it in the end,” Salmon says.

Salmon considered immunizations when making travel plans. “We got one vaccination in the hospital, but the pediatrician said we could either get the two-month ones abroad or wait. We chose to wait since we figured it would be easier with documentation and schools,” Salmon says.

Vaccinations were also on Adam Rosenwasser’s mind when he and his wife flew with their adopted daughter from Florida to Washington, DC, when she was two weeks old. “Our pediatrician’s concern was her vaccinations, so thank goodness she didn’t get sick,” he said, of the couple’s decision to get the shots after returning home. “We brought Clorox wipes with us and just wiped the heck out of the seat and the armrests and everything around us.”

Wing It

No matter how old the baby, don’t be afraid to ask for help, Burch advises. “Passengers and flight attendants were happy to hold the baby while I used the bathroom, for example,” she says. (Though don’t be surprised if some flight attendants say it’s against rules for them to hold your child.) “Wherever you are going, you may have to deal with different formulas and diapers, etc., but ultimately they have babies too and yours will be fine,” she adds. Also, pack extra clothes for everyone, not just baby. She remembers having to walk through Dubai customs in a tank top because baby had a blow-out. “It felt culturally inappropriate but it was that or [something] covered in baby poop,” she recalled.

baby mother and flight attendant
Photo by Caiaimage/Agnieszka Olek / Getty Images

Birth Certificates

Don’t forget a birth certificate, advises Anna Flowers. When she traveled with her infant son for a work trip, Delta would not issue her a boarding pass without proof that Baby Luke was hers. “I was panicking because I hadn’t brought anything,” she says. “Luckily my husband uploaded a scanned copy to Google Drive and I could show her on my phone, but it was nerve-wracking.”

Bottom Line

Traveling with a baby is relatively easy, compared to flying with a baby and a toddler. In the end, your demeanor rubs off on your kids, Salmon says. “If I get stressed out, my kids will sense that and their behavior will go downhill fast and they will also take advantage of me. If I can keep my cool and stay calm, my kids also stay calm.”

If you have to travel with your little one, here’s some more advice:

Featured image by RyanJLane / Getty Images

Know before you go.

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