Traveling with Children by Air:
- Allow yourself and your family extra time to get through security, especially when traveling with younger children.
- Talk to your children before coming to the airport about the security screening process. Let them know that their bags (backpack, dolls, lovey, etc.) will be put in the X-ray machine and will come out the other end and be returned to them.
- Discuss with your child that there will be lots of waiting and stopping and going while in the security process.
- There are some great YouTube videos about first-time flying designed for children.
- Discuss the fact that it’s against the law to make threats such as: “I have a bomb in my bag.” Threats made jokingly, even by a child, can result in the entire family being delayed and could result in fines.
- Similar to travel in motor vehicles, a child is best protected on an airplane when properly restrained in a care safety seat appropriate for their age, weight and height, meeting standards for aircraft until the child can use the aircraft safety belts. You can also consider using a restraint made only for use on airplanes and approved by the FDA. Belt positioning booster seats cannot be used on airplanes, but they can be checked as luggage so you have them for use in rental cars and other vehicles.
- Although the FAA allows children under the age of 2 to be held on an adult’s lap, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that families explore options to ensure that each child has its own seat. Discounted fares may be available. If it is not feasible for you to purchase a ticket for a small child, try to select a flight that is likely to have empty seats.
- Pack a bag of toys and snacks to keep your child occupied during the flight.
- Formula, breast milk and juice for infants or toddlers are permitted in reasonable quantities through the security checkpoint. Remove these items from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings.
- Inform the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process that you carry formula, breast milk and juice in excess of 3.4 ounces in your carry-on bag. These liquids are typically screened by X-ray.
- In order to decrease ear pain during descent, encourage your infant to nurse or suck on a bottle. Older children can try chewing gum, drinking water or juice through a straw, or filling up a glass of water and blowing bubbles through a straw (4 years of age or older).
- Consult your pediatrician before flying with a newborn or infant who has chronic heart or lung problems or with upper or lower respiratory symptoms.
- Consult your pediatrician if flying within two weeks of an episode of an ear infection or ear surgery.
- Consult your airline’s website for specific questions and information as well.
- Call our office to discuss immunizations regarding your travel destination.
Traveling with Children by Car:
- Always infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight and, or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer. Most convertible seats have limits that will permit children to ride rear-facing for 2 years or more. It is safest to ride rear-facing as long as possible.
- Once your child has outgrown their rear-facing height and weight limit, they can ride in a forward-facing car safety seat with a 5-point harness until they reach the height and, or weight limits for their car safety seats. Many seats can accommodate children up to 65 pounds or more.
- When your child has outgrown their car safety seat, they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belts fit properly. This is often when they have reached 4’ 9” in height and is between 8-12 years old.
- When children are old enough and tall enough to use the vehicle safety belt alone, they should always use the shoulder and lap belts for optimal protection.
- All children under 13 years old should ride in the rear seat of the vehicle for optimal protection.
- Never place a child in a rear-facing care safety seat in the front seat of the vehicle that has an airbag.
- Set a good example by always wearing your seatbelt.
- Children can easily become restless or irritable when on a long road trip. Some tips for keeping them occupied include pointing out interesting sites along the way; playing games such as car ride bingo or the license plate game; bringing soft, lightweight toys from home; listening to favorite music or watching favorite movies along the ride.
- Plan to take breaks for both you and your child along your route. Grab a snack, take a brisk walk around a safe area, use the restrooms, and stretch to make the ride more enjoyable and safer.
- Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute. Temperatures inside the car can reach deadly levels in minute and the child could die of heat stroke. Leaving the car running to keep your child cool or warm enough is dangerous as well. The car could be placed in motion causing injury or death to your child or others, as well as increase chances of someone taking your car.
- In addition to a traveler’s health kit, parents should carry safe water and snacks, child-safe hand wipes, diaper rash ointment, hand sanitizer, extra clothes for all travelers, and a water and insect-proof ground sheet for safe play outside.
International Travel with Children:
- If traveling internationally, make sure your child is up to date on her vaccinations and check with your doctor to see if she might need additional vaccines.
- Check with local travel clinics and CDC Website for the most up-to-date information on international travel
- In order to avoid jet lag, adjust your child’s sleep schedule 2-3 days before departure. After arrival, children should be encouraged to be active outside or in brightly lit areas during daylight hours to promote adjustment.
- Conditions at hotels and other lodging may not be as safe as those in the United States. Carefully inspect for exposed wiring, pest poisons, paint chips or inadequate stairway or balcony railings.
- When traveling, be aware that cribs or play yards provided by hotels may not meet all current safety standards. If you have any doubt about the safety of the crib or play yard, ask for a replacement or consider other options.
Please consult a travel clinic at least 6-8 weeks prior to travel to find out vaccines are needed for your specific destination. Vaccines should be administered 4-6 weeks before travel in order to be effective.
- Boston Children’s Hospital: 617-355-5945, Mondays 8:30 to 11 am
- Boston Medical Center: 617-414-4290, press 4
- Tufts Medical Center: 617-636-2847, Mondays through Fridays 8:30 am to 5 pm
- Mass General Hospital: 617-724-6588
- Must register as a patient prior to calling if you have never been to MGH. Call 866-211-6588
- Passport Health Cambridge: 617-307-7599
Immunizations and Service offered at most clinics:
- Yellow Fever
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Japanese Encephalitis
- Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis (Tdap)
Travel Clinics provide complete travel medicine consultations for patients and their families. Services may include:
- All necessary and required pre-travel immunizations including the more difficult to obtain vaccines like yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis, as well as more common immunizations like hepatitis A. Patients will receive the PHS 731 form (Yellow Fever Certification Card) required for entry in to some countries.
- Advice and prescriptions for avoiding infectious diseases while traveling including malaria prophylaxis, traveler’s diarrhea and others.
- Advice and prescriptions for environmental risks including high altitude travel.
- Advice for travelers with particular needs including diabetics, pregnant travelers, travelers taking medications that may impact travel risk (such as diuretics or proton pump inhibitors) and others.
- Advice on routine travel matters including insurance, jet lag and security concerns.
Check out the www.cdc.org for travel alerts around the world.