Traveling with a little one is often a major undertaking. Not only do you need to consider all of the gear that you need to bring along with you, but you may also need to take special precautions to ensure that the smallest member of your family can travel safely and enjoy your vacation.
Try some of the following tips for safer travel with your baby.
1. Purchase your baby a seat on the plane.
Yes, traveling with a “lap baby” can decrease travel expenses, but it may also decrease safety for your little one, especially on long flights. Every member of the family should have a seat on the plane, and babies should have an FAA-approved car seat to give them a safe, comfortable place to ride.
Having a seat on the plane for your baby, and using a car seat for safe travel, will also ensure that you have a safe car seat on hand when you arrive at your destination.
2. Make sure that your baby has a safe sleep space at your destination.
Contact hotels along the way to ensure that you can add a travel crib or other safe sleeping option to your room, if needed. Some parents may assume that they can simply bed share with their baby during the trip.
If you do not normally bed share, however, this can increase the danger to your little one, since you become more likely to forget that the baby is in bed with you. You should also take note of safe sleep practices, including removing fluffy bedding and pillows from the bed when sharing with a baby.
3. Take regular breaks on long drives.
Many parents become tempted to just drive straight through, as long as they can, when their infant falls asleep in the car. Your baby, however, should not sleep for extended periods of time in his car seat.
When traveling with an infant less than four weeks old, you may need to stop as often as every thirty minutes to take your baby out of the car seat, check on breathing, and feed and change him, if necessary. As your baby gets older, you can travel a little longer, but you still need to make frequent stops to help keep your baby safer while you travel.
4. Try out a carrier.
People like babies. In crowded areas, it often seems as if babies attract people who want to poke, touch, and kiss—often people you have never met before, and who may have dubious health status.
A soft structured carrier or wrap can help keep your baby close to you, making it easier for you to ward off grabbing fingers as they get uncomfortably close to your little one. These carriers also free up your hands, allowing you more freedom of movement while you take in the sights or visit favorite locations.
5. If you go swimming, always stay within touching distance of your child.
Many hotels and resorts have pools where the entire family can kick back, relax, and enjoy some time together in between sightseeing expeditions. At the same time, those swimming pools also pose infant drowning hazards.
Stay within touching distance of infants and small children in the pool, even when you have carefully strapped that child into a flotation device. These devices can quickly flip over or shift in position, leaving an infant trapped under the water.
6. Pay attention to your baby’s schedule.
Traveling with an infant almost definitely means that the infant will be off-schedule at some point. Maintaining your baby’s schedule as much as possible, however, can lead to a far less stressful trip for everyone involved.
If you cannot get back to the hotel room for naps, find a way to help your baby sleep in a stroller or in a carrier. Try to keep meal times consistent. It can prove difficult to adjust your baby’s schedule if traveling internationally or across time zones, so sticking to your baby’s preferred schedule can help maintain peace for everyone involved.
7. Wash hands frequently.
Many travel destinations, especially top tourist destinations, fill with crowds of people every day. That does not necessarily mean that you should avoid these locations with a young child, though you may want to wait until your baby has received at least his first round of vaccines before choosing to travel to those destinations, but you should wash your hands and your baby’s hands frequently.
Keep in mind that babies often use their hands to explore the world around them, then put those same hands in their mouths. Regular hand-washing can help reduce the possibility of serious illness due to germ exposure, especially unfamiliar germs from foreign areas.
8. Protect your baby from the sun.
Children over six months of age should wear sunscreen any time that they plan to play out in the sun. Sunscreen’s importance does not end at beach trips, either. Your child should wear sunscreen when your plans for the day include a walking tour of the city, running in and out of buildings throughout the majority of the day, or visiting a park.
If you plan to be out for long periods of time, loose, long-sleeve clothing, sun hats, and screens designed to protect your baby from the sun can help prevent burns.
9. Do not cover your baby’s car seat or stroller with a blanket in hot weather.
Many parents think that covering up their baby’s car seat or stroller will help protect the baby from the sun. Unfortunately, rather than protecting the baby, this strategy could cause the baby to overheat quickly. That blanket traps heat within the confines of the car seat or stroller and may prevent the proper flow of oxygen. Instead, leave room for air to flow, which will keep your baby safer and more comfortable.
Many of our clients at the Law Offices of George Salinas travel in the summer and throughout the rest of the year.
By following these tips, you can increase the odds of a safe and enjoyable vacation for every member of your family, including your baby.