Bringing your adopted newborn home is an extraordinary moment.
But amidst all the excitement and anticipation, it’s crucial to ensure that you are well-prepared to ensure that the journey will go as smoothly as possible.
From understanding airlines policies and when you can fly with a newborn, to gathering all the necessary paperwork and documents, and choosing the right seat, here are our top tips to make sure that the journey home will be a smooth one.
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Airline Polices for Traveling With a Newborn
The first thing you should know about flying with an adopted newborn is the airline policies, as they can vary slightly.
- Alaska Airlines: Alaska Airlines state that there is no minimum age requirement to fly, but you should “check with your doctor if you’re unsure your infant should be traveling via plane.”
- American Airlines: If flying with American Airlines, you can fly with a newborn who is young as 2 days old, but you must have a medical authorization form completed by a physician for newborns under 7 days old.
- Delta: Delta state that you can only fly with a baby under 7 days old if you have an approval letter from a physician.
- JetBlue: Newborns as young as 3 days old are allowed to fly with JetBlue, but if aged between 3 and 14 days, written approval from a doctor is necessary.
- Southwest: Southwest state that “a medical release for travel is required for any infant under 14 days old.”
- United: United state that newborns younger than 7 days old are not allowed to fly.
Air Canada: Air Canada state that newborns as young as 7 days old are allowed to fly.
Doctors Recommend Waiting
Flying with a newborn is very different to flying with a newly adopted child because doctors actually recommend you should wait to fly.
Generally, doctors recommend that you wait at least one month for full-term infants to fly, but three to six months is better to be on the safe side.
This allows a baby’s immune system to become better developed, which makes it safer for them to fly.
Gather the Necessary Documents
Before you fly, it’s crucial that you obtain all the necessary adoption and travel documents required.
This can include the adoption decree, newborn’s birth certificate, and any legal paperwork required, especially for international flights.
Note that newborns do not need any ID to fly in the U.S., as long as they are accompanied by an adult with an ID that the TSA recognizes.
However, when flying internationally, a passport is always required to fly, regardless of age.
Pack Essential Items
When traveling with a newborn, it’s vital that you pack the right items to ensure their comfort and well-being throughout the flight.
Additionally, due to the fluctuating temperatures on the plane, dress the newborn in breathable clothing that is easy to remove for diaper changes.
Consider bringing a lightweight blanket for added warmth too.
Manage Ear Pressure
To avoid ear pain and protect a newborn’s hearing, you should consider buying and using a pair of ear muffs.
Ear muffs are the best choice due to their ease of use, protection, and safety.
Ear plugs are too big for a baby’s small ear canal and can pose a choking hazard, while cotton wool can also be a choking hazard, can get stuck in their ear, and can fall out easily.
The best ear muffs for newborns when flying is the Alpine Muffy Baby Ear Protection, as they are very effective, popular, and are the only CE-certified baby ear muffs on the market, which means that they meet all legal requirements for safety, health, and the environment.
Choose the Right Seat
When flying with a newborn, the best place to sit on a plane is the bulkhead row or at the back of the plane.
Choosing the bulkhead is a good idea because:
- It leaves more room for a diaper bag
- It is easier to pass the newborn between your traveling companions
- You have better access to flight attendants
- You can disembark the plane more quickly
Choosing the back of the plane can be a good idea because:
- It is easier to get up and walk around, as the back is near the galley
- It is near the bathroom
- It offers more privacy
- Seats at the back of the plane are more likely to be empty
However, keep in mind that the back of the plane can be loud, and there can also be a lot of movement as people go to the bathroom.
Use a Car Seat
The FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) state that the safest place for newborns to sit on a plane is in a car seat, and not in your lap, as this reduces the risk of injury or worse.
While it can be a hassle to travel with a car seat and go through the airport screening process, not to mention that you will have less space on the plane for yourself, but it really is the right choice.
Make sure that you only choose an FAA-approved car seat.
According to many parents, your best option is the multipurpose Graco Slimfit 3 in 1 Car Seat.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).