Benadryl Baby on Board: Air Travel Do's and Don'ts

Traveling with babies can be challenging. Thanks to unfamiliar surroundings and interrupted schedules, they tend to be less-than-stellar travel buddies. Going on a plane ride with baby is a whole other level of crazy. You may be used to your own cranky, crying baby. . . But now you have to deal with upsetting the whole cabin. And let’s not forget about all the germs. Babies under 8 weeks are especially prone to infections because their immune systems are still immature.

But even with all the possible things that could go wrong (and trust me, they do), air travel with baby is totally doable, and many families have successful trips. Read on to find out how:

Should I Give My Baby a Sedative?

You may have heard of other moms doing this, because their baby is a terrible flier and they don’t want to disturb other travelers. But doctors advise against it.

Over-the-counter meds such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) act like a sedative. Sedatives of any kind can be very dangerous, especially for children under the age of two. An accidental overdose of a med like Benadryl could cause them to stop breathing. In addition, children under two are more susceptible to the side effects of diphenhydramine, such as dizziness, headaches, seizures, rapid heartbeat, blurred vision, arrhythmias, and toxic psychosis.

Although they usually cause drowsiness in adults, these types of sedatives can actually act as a stimulant (oh dear Lord!) in young children and cause irritability and crankiness. Talk about backfire! More than that, the health and safety of your baby is first priority. You can deal with any crying in other ways.

No-Med Travel

Is it possible to avoid restless and cranky babies? The short answer is no, but there are some things you can do to help your baby be a happier and more content traveler:

  • Travel at off-peak times. Hopefully, the plane will be less crowded.
  • Make sure you baby is well rested before boarding the plane; or the take a red-eye flight during your baby’s normal sleeping period, and hopefully they’ll sleep the whole trip.
  • Pack some new books and toys that your baby hasn’t seen before. However, also include their favorite blankie or small stuffed animal for comfort and familiarity.
  • Pressure changes can be uncomfortable for some babies. If you’re breastfeeding, you can help keep his/her ears clear by feeding during takeoff and landing. You can even try a pacifier. 

Traveling Germs

You have to be vigilant about fight germs while traveling. Wash your hands and your baby’s hands frequently. Pack sanitizing wipes to wipe down surfaces on the plane. Load up on travel-size alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Use only bottled water for mixing formula, drinking, or baby cereal prep.

When traveling to other countries, use extra caution when eating fresh fruits, veggies, and dairy. The regulations in other countries may not be as stringent. All food should be thoroughly cooked; fruits eaten raw should be peeled. Be cautious of fresh dairy products as they may not be pasteurized or may be diluted with untreated water.

A Shot of Advice for Worldly Travel

Careful attention to your baby’s immunization schedule is a must when considering travel to other countries. For example, measles may be rare in the United States, but if your baby hasn’t been vaccinated for measles, he/she could be infected when you travel to a country where measles is more prevalent.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) advises that children should complete their vaccination schedule before traveling, but if travel is necessary at an earlier age, accelerated schedules may be necessary to protect the child from diseases. Travel-specific vaccines include the following: Hepatitis A, Immune Globulin (IG) for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Influenza, MMR or MMRV, Meningococcal, and Polio vaccine. As soon as you know your travel plans, discuss these vaccinations with your pediatrician so you can make an informed decision on what is necessary for your baby.

Ever travelled with a baby? Share your tips with us in the comments below!

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