Travel with Children
We are often asked about traveling with infants and children. Especially air travel.
Jet lag seems to get worse with age, so don't worry about that in an infant. A baby, unlike an adult, has enough sense to sleep when he is tired. The dry air and the pressure changes do predispose to blocked ear tubes, though, which can be quite uncomfortable although not dangerous. If feeding the baby a bottle doesn't help, then there isn't much to recommend other than to comfort him and apologize to those around when he cries. Several studies using decongestants and antihistamines show that if they help at all it is only by making the baby more sleepy and in some cases that backfires and the baby is only more alert and screams louder.
Immunizations are particularly important in children as they get exposed to disease more than adults. Not only do they tend to put all sorts of things in their mouths but everyone, including other sick children, wants to play with them. If the baby is up to date on routine immunizations, what else is needed depends on where one is going and what is safe for children. Hepatitis B immunization, for instance, is more important in children than adults. Hepatitis A, when it occurs in small children, tends to be so mild that it's not a problem and besides, the vaccine seems to be ineffective under the age of 1 and is not recommended at that age. Children like to play with animals, too, so some experts are quicker to recommend rabies prophylaxis. Children may comply better with mosquito and insect prophylaxis if one makes a game out of it, but even then protection can be spotty. So it is important to remember malaria prophylaxis and immunization against mosquito-borne disease where applicable.
For feeding infants there will never be anything safer than breast feeding. But if it is too late for that and you must use formula mixing it up would be as good as taking the pre-mixed and save a lot of weight as long as you use boiled or bottled water. Same thing for washing dishes and bottles. Use boiled water or simply pour boiling water over them as your final rinse. If the baby gets diarrhea, breast feeding is still best. There are also commercially-available mixtures for dehydration (Oral Rehydration Solution-see our catalog) which can simply be mixed with boiled or bottled water and would save the weight of something like Pedialyte. Children are more apt to get diarrhea than adults are but you're usually better off to treat them with lots of fluid intake rather than medicines. Over the age of 3, Pepto-Bismol or Imodium are probably acceptable. Many of the antibiotics that are recommended for adult diarrhea, however, can be harmful to growing bone and cartilage and should not be used in children. Save the antibiotics for severe cases where there is bloody diarrhea and hospitalization with intravenous fluids may be needed anyway.
As far as bathing the baby goes, there's nothing she's going to get exposed to in good old tap water that she's not going to get more of just playing on the floor. Our only rule of thumb in when we lived in Africa was to let the mud settle to the bottom of the tub before bathing the baby!
With these basic rules in mind, try not to ruin your trip worrying about your children. The best rule is to relax and enjoy the family.