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Traveling With an Infant

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Today really marks the last few days of frenzy in my office before the Christmas holiday. School has been out for several days and now begins the familiar pilgrimage of family travel to be together for the holidays. Packing up the kids, pets, gifts etc can be daunting, but a common concern among new parents is “what do we need to take for the your-baby in case they get sick.” The combination of air travel and the germs one is exposed to while sitting with 200 of your closest friends, combined with family gatherings with children of all ages, definitely promises to promote colds. But, that being said, unless you have a newborn, the holidays are about family and traditions, so a cold is worth it!

When taking a your-baby their first trip you should be prepared. That was not the case when we flew with our son to L.A. for his first Christmas. What did I know, I was a new doctor and mother and inexperienced in both. Of course we packed gifts (very important for a six-month-old), special toys, clothes for all types of weather etc. What I did not prepare for was illness. So at 2:00 a.m. on day three of the visit (airplane germs have incubated) the your-baby awakens crying and hot. That would be my assessment, as I have brought nothing to take a temp or treat a fever for that matter. Off we go to the 24-hour 7/11 store to buy a thermometer, Tylenol and Pedialyte. Over the course of the next three days he continues to run a fever so we end up in a random E.R. in order that he may be examined by a “real doctor” or at least one that is more prepared than I was. Of course, after sitting for hours and numerous tests he is pronounced to have a VIRUS and we are sent home with more Tylenol. He then develops a viral rash just in time for returning home. It was an epiphany as a mother and doctor. Be prepared!

When packing for that first trip, I would recommend taking fewer clothes (your-baby clothes are easy to wash) and scale down with toys, but DO PACK: a thermometer, Tylenol and ibuprofen drops with appropriate dosing charts, a bulb syringe for nasal suction and saline nose drops. A good gift for grandparents to own is a cool mist humidifier if there are numerous young grandchildren visiting each year.

Families, holidays and unfortunately viral infections often come together, but they are usually short lived and an inconvenience. Having your few medical items at hand makes it even easier to deal with, and I am now a believer in the adage, “if I take it I won’t need it”.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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