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Safe Travels: Tips for Flying with Small Children

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Peter C. Grosso
Published Date: Monday, April 09, 2018

By Dr. Peter Grosso, Nansemond Pediatrics

Traveling with children can be challenging, especially if it’s airplane travel. Here are tips on how to keep your kids safe and comfortable during flights.

For safety:

  • Talk with your pediatrician before flying with an infant who has had an ear infection or ear surgery within two weeks of your travel date.
  • Ask your doctor before flying with a baby who has heart or lung problems, or respiratory symptoms.
  • If your child is under 40 pounds, they’re safest in a car seat. Check the label to make sure the seat is FAA-approved. A booster seat cannot be used on planes, but some airlines may offer to check it with your luggage for free so you’ll have one when you arrive at your destination.
  • Children younger than 2 years old may be held on your lap during the flight, but the AAP recommends that children have their own seat. If buying a ticket for your infant is too costly, call the airline and ask if there are discounted tickets for children. Or, try choosing a flight that is likely to have an empty seat that you can use for your child’s car seat.
  • If your holding your child in your lap, be sure you have a secure hold on him/her because when flights land the breaks are applied and can cause the child to be released from your hands if your holding on loosely. You may even consider having the seat belt over him/her in your seat.
  • Have your child wash their hands or use hand sanitizer frequently to avoid germs.

For comfort:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to get yourself and your family through security.
  • Be sure to pack diaper changing supplies, tissues, a change of clothing, and a comforting toy or blanket.
  • To help with diaper changes, dress your child in clothing that is easy to put on and easy to remove, such as elastic pants and a zip-up jacket.
  • Have your child suck on a pacifier or bottle during takeoff and landing to reduce any ear pain that may occur.
  • Cotton balls or earplugs to reduce noise may help your child relax during a loud flight.

For international travel:

  • Make sure your kids are up-to-date on vaccinations, and ask your doctor if they may need additional vaccines before traveling.
  • Adjust your child’s sleep schedule a few days before takeoff to reduce jet lag.

For breastfeeding moms:

  • A breast pump is considered a medical device, so you can carry it on the plane in addition to your carry-on bag. However, a cooler is considered an additional carry-on.
  • According to TSA rules, you can travel with an unlimited amount of breast milk, and storage bags can be larger than the standard 3-ounce carry-on size. Bring plenty of ice packs to keep your supply cold.
  • Be sure to tell security if you are traveling with breast milk, and ask them to put on a new pair of gloves when handling your cooler or storage containers.


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About CHKD Medical Group

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.