It's best to wait until your baby is at least four to six weeks old. But if you really need to travel shortly after birth, then experts recommend waiting for between seven to 14 days before flying with a healthy baby who was born full term. All the same, it's best to have a word with your baby's paediatrician before making your bookings. This is especially important if your baby was born prematurely. That said, many Indian mums follow confinement practices and prefer not to travel for the first 40 days after birth.
So it's possible you may delay any air travel with your newborn baby for later. Consider the following before planning your trip:
Why it helps to wait
Waiting until your baby is at least four to six weeks has it's advantages. By then you will know whether or not he has any underlying health problems which may make it unsafe for him to travel. It's usually easier to wait a few weeks before flying, to give you both time to settle into life together. If you gave birth by caesarean section, you may need to wait until after your six-week postnatal check-up before you take to the skies. Even then, you should only fly when your doctor gives you the all-clear. Also, babies are so vulnerable to germs during their first month that they may pick up a stray bug if they are cooped up with dozens of strangers breathing recycled air for hours. You should also consult your baby's doctor before flying with a newborn or infant who has chronic heart or lung problems or with upper or lower respiratory symptoms.
It's best not to take your baby to places where there are diseases he isn't old enough to be vaccinated against. Check ahead if you plan to take your baby to a country where specific vaccinations are needed.
Check the airline's infant travel policy
If you do have to travel with your newborn, it's best to check with your airline before you book as there are no standard regulations. Airlines have a minimum age criteria that you'll need to consider. Generally speaking, most airlines do not fly infants younger than seven days old. For some airlines, the minimum age is 14 days old. If your baby was born early, you will have to count his age from his due date, not the day he was born. Some airlines will ask you to provide a fit-to-fly letter from your doctor if your baby is less than two weeks old. You will need to buy and infant ticket and pay a percentage of the adult fare, as well as any applicable taxes for a baby under two, even though he will be on your lap during the flight. If, however, your child turns two on the flight, you’ll need to buy a separate ticket based on the fare for the selected route.
Keeping your baby comfortable
If your baby has a cough, cold or ear infection, he is more likely to suffer unpleasant ear-popping when flying due to the changes in air pressure. Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your baby during take-off and landing will help his ear pressure adjust and reduce any ear pain.
Babies are particularly prone to dehydration, so if your baby is exclusively breastfed, breastfeed him regularly on the flight. Breastmilk is itself mostly water, letting your baby have as many extra feeds as he wishes means that he will get plenty of water. If he is on formula or solids, give him regular drinks of boiled, cooled water during the flight. You can carry the cool, safe to drink water in separate bottles or a flask. Read more about how to manage your baby's feeds while travelling.
Infants under the age of two are not allotted a separate seat and will need to sit on their parent's lap for the flight. If you have a long haul flight it's a good idea to pre-book a travel cot or bassinet for your baby. Keep in mind that these are subject to availability and may only be offered on certain sectors and routes. If you plan to take your baby's car seat or Child Restraint System (CRS) on board, check with the airline in advance as some carriers may not allow these. If they are allowed, you will need to purchase a separate seat. Keep in mind that car seats or CRS devices must be FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approved and must be suitable for the aircraft you're boarding. Have a word with your travel agent or the airline about any additional guidelines.
You will need to provide a valid proof of age, such as a birth certificate for your baby. If you're flying abroad, your baby will need his own passport and, if applicable, a visa. Speak to your travel agent or check the airline's website for more details.