Mercer's Medical Centre | General Practice & Family Medicine

Mercer's Medical Centre

General Practice & Family Medicine

Travelling with children

The practicalities of travelling with infants and children

Remember your baby or child will require an up-to-date passport and your travel insurance policy should include your child. Factor in extra time into your travel plans when travelling with children. Ensure that you have enough of any special medications or foods that your child might require for the duration of your trip. Travelling can be boring for children, and they may not sleep well during travel. It is therefore wise to plan some entertainment in advance.

AIR TRAVEL

A fit, healthy baby can travel by air 48 hours after birth, but it is preferable to wait for 7 days after birth when possible.  Premature babies should always have medical clearance before travelling by air.

Changes in cabin pressure may upset infants, causing ear ache and abdominal cramps.  This can be helped by feeding your baby or giving a soother (dummy) to stimulate swallowing.  Never fly with a child with an active sinus, ear or nose infection, as changes in cabin pressure can cause severe pain to and can cause a perforated ear drum.

SAFETY IN THE SUN

Children are particularly sensitive to the sun and also become dehydrated more easily. Take precautions to ensure that children avoid sun exposure in the middle of the day.  Make sure that they are wearing clothing that covers their arms and legs, and protect any exposed skin with a high factor sunblock. Protect eyes with UV-protective wrap-around sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.

BUGS AND BITES

Many serious diseases are spread by insect bites.  Protect your children by having them wear long sleeved and legged clothing.  Insect repellent can be applied to clothes and should be applied to any exposed skin, reapplying every 3-4 hours.  Children should sleep under treated mosquito nets.

Young children are at particular risk of serious consequences if they become infected with malaria.  Like adults, children travelling to malaria areas should be protected against bites, and should take medication to prevent malaria while they are there and for a time when they return.  Parents are advised by the World Health Organisation not to take babies to areas with a risk of Falciparum malaria, which is a medical emergency in children.  

PREVENTING ILLNESS

Not all vaccines can be administered to the very young, so it is important to protect your child against health hazards such as food-borne illness and insect bites by means other than vaccinations where possible.  Take the following precautions:  Allow your children to only eat food that is cooked and has remained hot.  Avoid uncooked food apart from fruit and vegetables that can be peeled or shelled.  Avoid raw or undercooked egg dishes.  Avoid ice and ice cream.  Brush your child's teeth with safe water.

-VACCINE PREVENTABLE DISEASES

Some vaccines can be administered in the first few days of life (BCG, Hepatitis B); other vaccines cannot be given before 6 weeks of age (Diptheria, Tetanus, Polio vaccines); not before 6 months of age (Japanese Encephalitis vaccine); or not before 9 months of age (Yellow Fever vaccine).

DIARRHOEA

Diarrhoea is common in infants and children.  Most diarrhoeal episodes will resolve within a few days.  It is especially important to ensure that children do not become dehydrated.  As soon as diarrhoea starts, a child should be given more fluids, such as safe water (bottled, boiled or chlorinated).  If diarrhoea continues for more than one day, an oral rehydration solution, e.g. dioralyte, should be taken and normal food consumption should continue.  If an oral rehydration solution is not available you can make up a substitute with 6 level teaspoons of sugar and 1 level teaspoon of salt in 1 lt of safe water.  It is important to seek medical assistance if your child's diarrhoea lasts for more than 3 days, is very frequent, if there is blood in the stool or if there is a fever.

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