Whether your family’s summer vacation includes driving to the Jersey Shore or flying to Disneyworld, traveling with kids can be a challenge. The Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper offers a few tips to help you have a wonderful time:
No matter how far you are traveling from home, remember to bring any prescription medication your child may need, a favorite toy or game to keep them occupied while traveling, and a first aid kit for minor mishaps or illnesses. If you are traveling out of the country, please remember that Cooper has a travel clinic that can assist you in identifying which vaccines or other health precautions you and your family should take prior to your departure.
Please call (856) 968-7251 for additional information.
Traveling by Car
- Always use a car safety seat for infants and young children. A rear-facing car seat should be used until your child has reached one year of age AND weighs at least 20 pounds. Reaching those milestones, he can ride in a forward-facing car seat, but it is better to keep him rear-facing to the highest weight and/or height allowed by his car safety seat. Never place a child in a rear-facing car safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has an airbag. All children under 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles.
- A child who has outgrown their car safety seat with a harness 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).
- Set a good example by always wearing a seat belt.
- Children can easily become restless or irritable when on a long road trip. Try to keep them occupied by pointing out interesting sights along the way and by bringing soft, lightweight toys and favorite CDs for a sing-along.
- Plan to stop driving and give yourself and your child a break about every two hours.
- Never 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 stroke.
- In addition to a first aid kit, 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 outside.
Traveling by Airplane
- Allow extra time for you and your family to get through security – especially when traveling with younger children.
- Talk to your children before going to the airport about the security screening process. Let them know that their bags (backpack, dolls, etc.) will be put in the X-ray machine, come out the other end and be safely returned to them.
- Discuss 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 result in the entire family being delayed and could result in fines.
- Similar to travel in motor vehicles, a child is best protected on an airplane when properly restrained in a car safety seat appropriate for the age, weight and height of the child, meeting standards for aircraft until the child weighs more than 40 lbs. and can use the aircraft seat belt.
- Pack a bag of toys and snacks to keep your child occupied during the flight.
- In order to decrease ear pain during descent, encourage your infant to nurse or suck on a bottle. Older children can try chewing gum, filling up a glass of water and blowing bubbles through a straw (4 years of age or older), or blowing up balloons (8 years of age or older).
- Consult your pediatrician before flying with a newborn or infant who has chronic heart or lung problems or with upper or lower respiratory symptoms.
- Consult your pediatrician if flying within two weeks of an episode of an ear infection or ear surgery.
- If traveling internationally, make sure your child is up to date on her vaccinations and check with your doctor to see if he or she might need additional vaccines.
- In order to avoid jet lag, adjust your child’s sleep schedule two to three days before departure. After arrival, children should be encouraged to be active outside or in brightly lit areas during daylight hours to promote adjustment.
- Conditions 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.
- When traveling, be aware that cribs or play yards provided by hotels may not meet all 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.