Traveling with children can be a delight and a
challenge. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has the following tips for safe
and stress-free family travel. Please use the tips in any print or broadcast
story, with appropriate attribution of source. Traveling by Airplane
your family extra time to get through security - especially when traveling
with younger children.
children wear shoes and outer layers of clothing that are easy to take off
for security screening. Children younger than 12 years are no longer
required to remove their shoes for routine screening.
can be brought through airport security and gate-checked to make travel
with small children easier.
to your children about the security screening process before coming to the
airport. Let them know that bags (backpack, dolls, etc.) must be put in
the X‑ray machine and will come out the other end and be returned to them.
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 delay the entire
family and could result in fines.
to have a car safety seat at your destination or bring your own along.
Airlines will typically allow families to bring a child’s car safety seat
as an extra luggage item with no additional luggage expense. Check the
airline’s Web site ahead of time so you know their policy before you
arrive at the airport
traveling on an airplane, a child is best protected when properly
restrained in a car safety seat appropriate for the age, weight and height
of the child until the child weighs more than 40 lbs. and can use the
aircraft seat belt. The car safety seat should have a
label noting that it is FAA-approved. Belt-positioning
booster seats cannot be used on airplanes, but they can be checked as
luggage (usually without baggage fees) for use in rental cars and taxis.
the FAA allows children under age 2 to be held on an adult’s lap, the AAP
recommends that families explore options to ensure that each child has her
own seat. If it is not feasible to purchase a ticket for a small child,
try to select a flight that is likely to have empty seats where your child
could ride buckled in her car safety seat.
a bag of toys and snacks to keep your child occupied during the flight.
order to decrease ear pain during descent, encourage your infant to nurse
or suck on a bottle. Older children can try chewing gum or drinking liquids
with a straw.
hands frequently, and consider bringing hand-washing gel to prevent
illnesses during travel.
your pediatrician before flying with a newborn or infant who has chronic
heart or lung problems or with upper or lower respiratory symptoms.
your pediatrician if flying within 2 weeks of an episode of an ear
infection or ear surgery.
Traveling by Car
traveling internationally, check with your doctor to see if your child might
need additional vaccines, and make sure your child is up-to-date on
routine vaccinations. Bring mosquito protection in countries where
mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria are present.
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
within arm’s reach of children while swimming, as pools may not have safe,
modern drain systems and both pools and beaches may lack lifeguards.
- Ensure that your child wears a life jacket when
on smaller boats, and set an example by wearing your life jacket.
at hotels and other lodging may not be as safe as those in the U.S.
Carefully inspect for exposed wiring, pest poisons, paint chips, or
inadequate stairway or balcony railings.
traveling, be aware that cribs or play yards provided by hotels may not
meet 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. (Also applies
to travel in the U.S.)
- Road travel can be extremely hazardous in
developing countries. Make sure each passenger is buckled and that
children use the appropriate car safety seat. Let your driver know you are
not in a hurry, ask that there be no cell phone use, and emphasize that
you will reward safe driving.
- Always use a car safety seat for infants and young children.
infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until 2
years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by
the car safety seat manufacturer. Once your
child has outgrown the rear-facing height or weight limit, she should ride
in a forward-facing car safety seat. Updated recommendations on safe
travel can be found on the AAP parenting web site: www.healthychildren.org/carseatguide.
rental car companies can arrange for a car safety seat if you are unable
to bring yours along. However, they may have a limited selection of seats.
Check that the seat they provide is appropriate for the size and age of
your child, that it appears to be in good condition, and that the
instruction manual is provided before accepting it.
child who has outgrown her car safety seat with a harness (she
has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders
are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the
seat) should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s
seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4' 9"
in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age).
children under 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles.
place a rear-facing car safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle that
has an airbag.
a good example by always wearing a seat belt, even in a taxi.
often become restless or irritable when on a long road trip. Keep them
occupied by pointing out interesting sights along the way and by bringing
soft, lightweight toys and favorite music for a sing-along.
to stop driving and give yourself and your child a break about every two
leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute. Temperatures inside
the car can reach deadly levels in minutes, and the child can die of heat
addition to a travelers’ health kit (http://www.cdc.gov/travel/other/travelers-health-kit.htm),
parents should carry safe water and snacks, child-safe hand wipes, diaper
rash ointment, and a water- and insect-proof ground sheet for safe play
AAP policy statement: Restraint Use in
Federal Aviation Administration http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/crs/
Centers for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/travel/children_gen_info.htm
AAP: Car Safety Seats, A Guide for Families