An Adoptive Parent’s Guide to Traveling with a Newborn
You’ve waited months, or maybe even years, and the big day is finally here: meeting your child for the first time! If you’re a parent, we know that you want to do everything you can to make the journey home safely. But, what kind of tips should you look for? To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of suggestions for traveling with a newborn. No matter which transportation method you use to meet the newest member of your family, we’ve got you covered.
Some Things to Keep in MindBefore we get started, there are few general tips that we have for adoptive parents traveling with a newborn:
- Do plenty of research: It’s up to you to decide which method is best for traveling. Be sure to research all your options for flights (if you’re going that route) and hotels. You should also research the area you’re traveling to for some things to do while you’re there.
- Try to be patient: If you’re headed to another state, there’s no set time frame for when ICPC will give you the okay to return home with your baby. You will need to make plans for what will happen in the event that you’ll have to stay longer than expected.
- Be prepared: An adoption opportunity could arrive at any time. Start preparing the things that you know you’ll need ahead of time (passport, visas, etc.) before you need them — so that you’re not rushing around at the last minute. While you might receive the call for an adoption opportunity a few months in advance, you could also find out during the call that the newest member of your family has already been born!
- Talk to your doctor or adoption specialist for advice: In general, doctors recommend that you wait to travel until your baby’s immune system is better developed. Before you do anything else, it’s always best to check with a pediatrician to see what they suggest. You can also reach out to your adoption specialist for some of the best travel tips from their experience.
Traveling by PlaneTraveling with a newborn requires a lot of careful planning — especially on a plane. This is the most common way for an adoptive family to travel to and return with the newest member of their family. But, there are some things that you should keep in mind before you board:
- Check your airline’s policy on flying with a newborn: Some airlines admit newborns who are 2 weeks old, and others that only allow babies up to 2 months old. And, if you plan on flying with your newborn in your lap, you’ll need to provide proof of age on most airlines. Make sure to check in with your airline for specific rules.
- Manage ear pressure: If you’ve been on a plane before, then you’ll remember that familiar popping sensation when you finally take off. To protect your baby’s ears, bring a pacifier or a bottle for them to suck on during takeoff and landing. If it’s too loud in the cabin, you can also bring small earplugs or cotton balls to limit the noise for your baby.
- Make sure you have all your documents in order: With adoption, you might not have access to your child’s accurate birth certificate for a little bit. If you don’t, then you can use your placement paperwork or any legal documents provided by your attorney as proof that the baby is legally in your custody. You can also contact your airline ahead of time; if it needs something specific like a letter from your agency, then your adoption specialist can always prepare what you need.
Traveling by CarDepending on how close you live to the birth parents, you might not need to travel by plane at all. In that case, here are a few tips for traveling by car:
- Try to make it comfortable: If you’ve been on a road trip before, then you already know how stuffy they can feel. Remember to dress your newborn comfortably; think loose clothing like pajamas, and bring light blankets. Don’t forget to bring extra clean clothes too, just in case. You should also bring a window shade to protect your baby’s face from the sun while you’re driving.
- Keep the essentials up front: The last thing you want is to realize that one of your essentials is in the trunk and you’re already on the road. You won’t have time to pull over for every little thing. Keep essentials (toys, bottles, pacifiers, etc.) in an easy to reach spot.
- Plan frequent breaks and rest stops: This tip goes for you and the baby. This will give you plenty of time to stretch, eat, and change diapers and clothing as needed. If you need to stop for a bit on the road while you get your bearings, that’s perfectly fine. Do what’s best for you.