I had an appointment to get my son his USA passport months before he was even born. I was dead-set on traveling to see family as soon as we were both able. People told me I was crazy traveling alone with a three month old across the world – literally from New York City to Tel Aviv – but anything to see family.
To many people’s surprise it’s usually safe to travel by plane as of about two months.
“In general, I recommend that families wait until after the two month vaccines before traveling on an airplane, bus or train with an infant,” says Dr. Deena Blanchard, pediatrician at Premier Pediatrics in NYC. “The goal is to avoid crowded and enclosed spaces, which can increase the risk of your infant contracting a contagious disease. In cases where travel is urgent or necessary it is best to talk with your child’s pediatrician prior to air, bus or train travel.”
When it comes to traveling by car, always use an age and weight appropriately installed car seat. “An adult should sit in the backseat with the infant to monitor them and address any needs they will have during the trip,” says Dr. Blanchard. “It is important to make frequent stops (for approximately 15 minutes every 2 hours) to attend to your infant and take them out of the car seat. Feeding should not take place in a moving car.”
Given the current pandemic, there are extra precautions to consider. Traveling with children is not an easy, straightforward decision especially given that, currently, only children over twelve years of age are eligible for vaccination.
“While COVID-19 is typically mild in children, there are cases of severe illness,” says Dr. Blanchard. “There are underlying risk factors that can make a child more susceptible to severe illness. However, currently we do not know why one healthy child as compared to another will have severe COVID-19 illness or long-term effects of COVID-19. As with most things in life, the decision to travel is based on mitigated risk.”
If you choose to travel there are things you can do to decrease risk, according to Dr. Blanchard.
“Make sure all your eligible family members and any eligible people over twelve years, who you will be visiting with, are vaccinated against COVID-19.”
“Look at percent positivity rates in the area you plan to travel to. Places with lower percent positivity rates will carry less risk of transmission.”
“Travel by car with frequent breaks if you can. If traveling on public transportation make sure that all children above age two and adults are masked regardless of vaccination status. Limit the amount of time without a mask and make sure to bring along hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for frequently touched surfaces.