Newborns - Traveling with Your Newborn
Parents often arrive home from the hospital a day or two after a birth exhausted. But that quickly passes. The urge to take your newborn to visit grandparents and others will soon become very strong. Then there are the inevitable pediatrician visits for exams, vaccinations and other medical events. While minimizing travel during the first three months is desirable, whenever you choose to travel with your newborn there are a few things to keep in mind.
Traveling with your baby can seem like planning a 13th century caravan across the desert. There are a thousand things, it seems, to consider. But with modern transportation, communication and baby-friendly facilities in so many places, it's really not that bad.
Naturally, you won't forget to bring the basic supplies. You'll want a supply of diapers, diaper rash cream and a bag for soiled diapers. You should bring some teething gel and infant paracetamol for pain relief on the road. Newborns should not be given aspirin. Petroleum jelly is a must. Sunscreen is helpful for those circumstances where you can't keep the sun entirely off. Babies have very sensitive skin.
You'll want a good bonnet and the ability to layer clothing for changes in temperature. That change can be from an air-conditioned car to the hot sun at grandmother's house. Or, it can equally be from the heated car to a house that is a little chilly for the newborn. Be prepared for either eventuality.
Avoid traveling by air for the first year whenever possible. This isn't just a courtesy to the other passengers. Pressurized cabins, recycled air, pressure changes from takeoff and landing, and other issues represent a stress to your baby's system. Breastfeeding mothers will find it hard to find privacy at feeding time and both parent and onlooker can be made uncomfortable.
For auto travel, you'll need a good child safety seat, one that is specifically designed for infants. It should be rear facing and be installed in the back seat. An air bag that deploys in the front seat can cause serious harm, both from direct impact and the hard jerk to a baby's neck. Always take the time to secure the car seat properly.
However you travel, food and drink are essential bring-alongs. Babies get hungry on an internal schedule that is not synchronized with parental convenience. Telling them to 'wait until we get there' is not an option, as it is with older children. The ability to breastfeed conveniently and safely is best. For those on formula, having some means of warming formula is good. Special warmers are available that plug into the cigarette lighter socket.
The ability to perform a diaper change on the road is another must. The alternative isn't merely discomfort, but a bad smell for you and increased likelihood of diaper rash for the infant. A portable changing station or pad will make that chore much easier.
Newborns are much more susceptible to germs than older children, since their immune systems are still developing. Keeping exposure at a minimum is important. Avoid having every family member and friend breath on or touch the newborn. Insist that only those with clean hands and no colds get close.
Sure, there are lots of challenges to face when traveling with a newborn. But, like that 13th century caravan, it can be an adventure!