Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Things you need to do before travelling with a newborn baby

Mothers do not always get the luxury of always being at home  with their newborn babies despite the maternity leave laws . Sometimes, it becomes necessary that the new mum embarks on a trip and by this we mean long trips that entails sitting in a car or an airplane for hours. With birth tourism in the USA being fashionable among well-to-do Nigerian parents,  it is not unusual to see a mum returning home with a baby who is barely a month old.

Travelling with  newborn babies is really not encouraged as it increases the newborn's exposure to potentially harmful disease-causing organisms which the baby's fragile immune system may not yet be equipped to fight, but  when the travel is inevitable then certain steps need to be taken to not only protect the baby but to also ensure its's comfort and that of the mother. 

This write-up focuses on babies between the age of 0 to 6 months who are believed to be fed only milk. It also focuses mainly on air travel. Travelling with an exclusively breastfed baby is relatively easier compared to one on mixed feeding or formula. 
Below are steps you should consider taking when planning and embarking on a trip with a newborn baby. 

  1.  Consult a pediatrician or at least your family doctor. This is a highly recommended step to take. The physician would look at your baby and the disease profile of the region you are visiting and then give you recommendations on what to steps to take to protect the health of your newborn. If necessary he/she would recommend particular vaccinations for your child. Certain parts of the world are renowned for certain diseases, it is safer you know what you and your baby are up against before embarking on any journey.
  2.  Inform the airline or whatever means you are using to travel about your baby. When booking air tickets, children below 2 years of age are grouped together; you may need to inform them of the specific age of your baby and  request a bassinet, or inquire if you can carry a bassinet of your own. If you are going to use the airline's bassinet there will be need for you to take along bed sheets of your own. You wouldn't want to expose your newborn's skin to publicly used sheets or bassinet surfaces no matter how clean they look. Also inquire about the requirements needed; some airlines require you to provide some kind of proof of being the parent of the baby and a written consent from the other parent if available.
  3.  Feeding.  as mentioned earlier, if your baby is exclusively breastfed things become a tad easier as you would definitely be taking your breasts along with you to feed the baby. But if your baby is fed on formula or any other food, you will need extra preparation. Airlines give certain concessions to mothers with babies therefore you should be able to take your formula or whatever food your baby takes. Due to the often bad stories one reads about airline water, you may need to carry a water flask; a small flask of about 500ml filled with hot water. But almost all airlines serve their passengers bottled water so you could request the water be boiled or warmed for your baby's meals as you desire. In which case you have to ensure you have packed in your add-on luggage your baby's food, water, plates and spoons. You may need to take at least two plates or spoons to ease off the need to wash up after each feed. But if You can't, the air hosts/hostesses can be of help to you.
A very portable 500ml flask that can keep baby food or water hot for several hours
The flask above usually comes in small bags like this that eases carriage
4.  You need more than enough supplies of cloths and diapers. Good enough, all international airlines give luggage allowance to babies just as they give adult travellers, so you could put your baby's luggage allowance to full use. Use the number of hours you are to be on air as well as the waiting time at transit airports to estimate how many cloths and diapers your baby needs. You should add extras to whatever you have estimated as you never can tell. It is better to take a little more than needed than be stranded midway without cloth or diaper.

5. Buy disposable changing mats. Depending on how many hours your journey will last, you may need to change you baby's diaper and/or cloths at intervals and would at some point need to use a public space for that. I do not recommend the use of the changing tables located in airline toilets for health and hygiene reasons, but you could find yourself left with no other option so you just take a changing mat, place it on the surface, change your baby's cloth or diapers , and discard the used mat. Discarding each mat upon usage and taking a new one for each change is recommended as the used one is already in contact with the public space. Your aim is to protect your baby's delicate health and skin as much as you can. You would be amazed with the kind of germs one can pick up from such changing rooms.
Image result for disposable diaper mats
disposable changing mats

6.  Upon boarding, request the help of a host/hostess in settling down. You should be given a seat belt extension and shown how to fasten both you and your child unto the seat. 

7. Get appropriate clothing for your baby. You need to find detailed information about the prevailing weather condition at your destination to know exactly what cloths to put in your hand luggage in readiness. There could be a sharp contrast between the weather condition of where you are coming from and your destination so you need to get weather-suitable cloths for your baby and you. There is need to carry such cloths in your carry-on luggage as you and your baby may need to wear them before disembarking from the aircraft.

8.  Travel light. This needs to be emphasized upon especially if it is just you and the baby with no other adult on the trip. You don't need the extra stress of waiting to carry  other luggage at either check in or check out. Traveling light will do you a lot of good unless you have people to help you at both ends of your journey, that is someone to check in your luggage before departure and someone to help pick them up upon arrival.

9. Take advantage of every concession allowed parents with children. Airlines usually give priority to parents with children during boarding, if it isn't so obvious, request for it. You are not supposed to queue up alongside others during boarding. Most airlines allow parents with children board alongside their first class and business class passengers.. Determine whatever concession you are allowed and take advantage of it/them.

We do hope you and your little one have a safe and pleasant trip


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