Is air travel safe for an infant?

10 May 2016


Air travel is appropriate for most infants. Before you fly with your baby, however, consider:

          •  Your baby's age. Generally, age doesn't affect an infant's ability to handle air travel. However, your baby's doctor might discourage unnecessary air travel shortly after birth. Keep in mind that newborns have developing immune systems and that air travel might increase their risk of catching an infectious disease.

          •  Your baby's ears. Changing cabin pressure during a flight causes temporary changes in middle ear pressure, which can trigger ear pain. To help equalize the pressure in your baby's ears, encourage your baby to suck on a bottle or pacifier during takeoff and landing. If your baby is ill, ask his or her doctor whether you should postpone the flight.

          •  Your baby's breathing. During flight, air pressure in an aircraft cabin is lower than air pressure on land. Although this temporary change in oxygen level doesn't seem to pose problems for otherwise healthy babies, your baby's doctor might recommend supplemental oxygen if your baby has an underlying respiratory condition. If your baby was born prematurely and has a history of lung disease, your baby's doctor might recommend postponing air travel until age 1 or later.

          •  Your baby's safety seat. Most infant car seats are certified for air travel. Although airlines typically allow infants to ride on a caregiver's lap during flight, the Federal Aviation Administration recommends that infants ride in properly secured safety seats. If you choose not to purchase a ticket for your infant, ask about open seats when you board the plane — in case one can be assigned to your infant. For the most room, choose bulkhead seats if you can.


Jay L. Hoecker, M.D., (2015). Is air travel safe for an infant?
Mayo Clinic [Online]. Available: [January 14, 2015]

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