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January 17th, 2011
08:35 AM ET

Is it safe to fly with a 2-week-old?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Question asked by Jasmine, of San Diego, California:

Is it safe to fly with a 2-week-old?

Expert answer

Thanks for your question. Many parents ask me about traveling with their newborns or young infants for family events such as weddings or work obligations planned long before their baby was born. From a purely medical standpoint, healthy term babies generally are OK to fly after the first week or two, but be sure that your baby falls into this category before starting your trip. Your pediatrician will want to make sure the baby doesn't have any heart problems or jaundice and is feeding well. And although commercial airliners are pressurized and the oxygen level in the cabin carefully controlled during flight, premature infants' lungs may be more sensitive to the effects of high-altitude travel; therefore, they should fly (or visit areas of higher altitude) with greater caution.

The problem with being on a plane or in any enclosed space with lots of other people is that germs can spread very easily. While getting the sniffles as an adult is more of a nuisance than anything else, babies who get a cold stand to become seriously ill quickly, especially in the first few months of life. Fevers in newborns need to be taken seriously and require not only the involvement of health professionals but also the possibility of tests and treatment. In general, avoiding crowds and sick people in particular is definitely in your baby's best interest. However, if you do fly with your baby, remember to be extra dedicated to hand washing or sanitizing, and try to shield your baby from any direct contact with the coughs or sneezes of obviously ill travelers.

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soundoff (104 Responses)
  1. Mom who flew with child

    Thyme – u hit the nail on the head... out of all the supportive or rude or nonsensical or stupid or caring remarks here, yours hits the point (not about the question asked, but in answer to so many others.) It's NOT the children – it's the rude, self-centered or unprepared-to-be- parents who are the problem. If your child is NEVER expected to behave, then it's only going to be worse on flight. Have you been to a daycare recently? Or elementary school classes? They are a nightmare of disrespect because so many parents don't EXPECT their children to behave like good little girls and boys. When I flew with my then 2-yr-old, she was so wellp-behaved that we got compliments from everyone around us on all five light-legs going and coming. WHy? Because BEFORE we left, my husband and I explained everything that would be happening – even how the airplane flew. Guess what? TWO YEAR OLDS ARE SMART!!!!! She was told to use a quiet voice because we'd be sitting right behind, in front of or next to other people who might want to sleep or read or think quietly. And, if her ears hurt, because they might, it's ok to put your head in Mommy's lap and cry quietly. Mommy will do all she can to help make it better – including bringing chewing gum that she was reminded not to swallow and that she have to spit out of she cried so she wouldn't choke. It's the allowance of screamind and kicking and talking excessively loud that upsets – and that IS the PARENTS' fault for not parenting well. Perhaps we should ban parents of young children??? hehe.....

    January 18, 2011 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Fanny B Tender

    I at times have had to yank up a kid or two on a flight and whip some kids behinds. I WILL NOT hesitate to do it again either. Parents...YOU disciplne your little rats or I WILL DO it for you.

    January 18, 2011 at 10:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Maria

      touch my child & I will sue you for everything you have & ever will have you moron

      January 25, 2011 at 01:37 | Report abuse |
  3. MomOf3

    I took my 5 week old son on a flight from NY to London so I could attend my father's funeral. He was not a behavioral problem. Anyone who has kids knows that age is too young to cause a disturbance to the other passengers. He did however contract a cold virus that landed him in the hospital for 5 days. Obviously, I wouldn't ever do that again. If the trip is avoidable, don't take it until the baby is 6 months or more. Once I moved back to the states, I didn't bring my kids on planes until they were over 5 years old and well under control. It just isn't fun for anyone to have out of control kids on planes. And by the way – it's NOT OK to have your 2 year old running up and down the aisles on a plane, or kicking the seat in front of them.

    January 18, 2011 at 14:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. What the What?

    You know what's more worrisome than a healthy, sleeping, quiet 2 week old on an airplane?? Annoying, judgemental people who dole out specific, anecdotal parenting advice for situations they know nothing about. COME ON. The expert said flying WAS FINE...IF the baby was healthy, IF a pediatrician said it was okay...just use your judgement about flight length and destination and time of year, reason for trip etc. Do you people make decisions based on just one variable? You take a risk taking your kid to the park in your car. My mom thinks its "crazy" to see parents riding bikes with their toddlers in bike seats or trailers-my friend gets all indignant when she sees a family bring home an infant with a big dog, she says "I would NEVER have an animal around my child–it could hurt a defensless baby." In either case, parents have to weigh pros and cons and then use good sense. If you really want to dole out petty advice, go ahead and raise that other person's kid.

    January 18, 2011 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. cindychicago

    Finally safe way to abrade stretch marks at home http://www.medicalcrystals.com

    January 21, 2011 at 04:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Crystal

    I am adopting a baby from the Philippines, and we are to bring the baby home to the US soon after. I'm so worried about flying such a long distance, and being in the air on and off for such long amounts of time. Besides contacting airborne viruses, what else bad could happen to our baby? And how could I possibly avoid viruses? I know not to let anyone hold or touch our baby, to bring and sanitizer, but really what else?? Any tips?

    February 6, 2017 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.