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Flying can be so wonderful for families, however the time spent in the air can be trying. I do not recommend unnecessary air travel for the three weeks of life, especially during the cough and cold season because infections spread more effectively in close quarters.
Young infants generally do well on airplanes; the vibration and the hum of the engines can be soothing. Toddlers are another story. They are a mobile bunch, and being cramped for long hours just might test your patience.
Small infants do well to drink or suck for take-off and landing. Toddlers, preschoolers, and some school age children may have more trouble equilibrating the pressure in their ears. Encourage them to drink for take-off and landing. If they will not drink on cue, consider taking a snack they’ll enjoy that involves a good deal of chewing without being a choking hazard. Chewing gum is a consideration depending on your child’s age and readiness. Treat severe pain with pain relievers. A warm towel or instant heating pad may also offer relief.
Many parents ask about medications like diphenhydramine (Benedryl®) for sleep. I do not recommend products to induce sleep because some children become hyperactive and irritable as a side effect.
Children under 2 years currently do not have to purchase an airplane seat. They are, however, much safer when restrained in an age-appropriate car seat. As in cars, parents are unable to safely restrain their child in their lap during turbulence or in an emergency. Families who can should purchase a seat for their child, especially for flights that are expected to be fully booked.
An alternate, although by no means fool proof plan, is to select flights that may have empty seats. Families traveling with lap children can book the aisle and window seat; the reservation clerk will note the lap child and leave the middle seat empty, when possible.