Ask Shelly: Vacation with a newborn? While this question from an expectant mom is specific to vacationing in Hawaii with a 1-month-old, the general topic of how soon is too soon to plan a vacation with a newborn baby comes up frequently.
Parents with maternity or parental leave from work understandably want to make the most of it, and parents who have been there and done that before know little ones are sometimes easiest to travel with in the early months before they are mobile.
I am writing because I am a concerned mother about to take a trip to Hawaii with a 2-year-old and a newborn that will be about 1 month old. I just ordered both of your books on Amazon but I had a question.
We are going to be staying on Maui. We already have a two-bedroom condo rented at Hololani in Kahana. My mother has a time share there and originally we were all going. She backed out, but she is still going to let us use the time share. That is the main reason I hate to pass up on this trip – you can’t beat a free place to stay!
My husband and I made a trip to Mexico when our son was 9 months old and a trip to Florida when he was 13 months old. I think we could handle it but I am nervous about taking care of both children at once.
My biggest concern is the health of the newborn on the airplane. I am going to try to breastfeed but I had difficulty with my first child and pumped for 6 months with him. Do they allow breast pump equipment in carry-on luggage? Also, do you know how much breast milk they allow you to bring on the plane?
Another concern is that my husband is planning on a dive at the Maui Ocean Center. He will be diving in their shark tank and we will be able to watch him. Our son will love this but I’m not sure how I will be able to handle him and a newborn alone. Recently we took him to the aquarium and he ran around like crazy. Both my husband and I spent all of our time chasing him from one room to another. He hates being confined so I don’t know how well the “leash” would work. Do you have any suggestions?
What do you think? Do you think we are crazy to consider a trip so soon after the birth of our second child? We could postpone our trip and go next March but I am thinking some sunshine might be what I need.
Thanks for your help,
Since you have already gone through a birth and adjusting to a new infant, and you’ve already traveled with an older baby as well, you have some idea of what you are getting into. Good friends of mine took their first child to Kauai at only 8 weeks and had a wonderful, relaxed time bonding with the new baby and enjoying the tropics. That said, there is a big difference between travel at 8 weeks after the birth of a child and an estimated 4 weeks. Here’s why:
Postpartum care & recovery –
Since you can never be sure how things will go those first weeks—or when exactly they might begin, it’s hard to know ahead of time exactly how old your infant will be or how recovered you will be from the birth and any postpartum issues at the time of travel. One birth experience can be very different from the next, and having a toddler in the house during your first weeks home can be a completely different experience from the first time around when you actually could “sleep when the baby sleeps.”
Newborn health & vaccinations –
Since the first routine vaccinations for all but HepB (given at the hospital) are not advised until at least 6 weeks, exposing the baby to travel situations like crowded airplanes and airports where international travelers cross paths before he or she receives protection from polio, measles, whooping cough, and other diseases we don’t generally see here—but many other countries do—could be a real concern (see schedule here http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/schedules/downloads/child/0-6yrs-schedule-pr.pdf).
As well, since babies can come at unpredictable times, and I’m not sure of the possible range in weeks before your travels, I would definitely discuss your timing and vaccinations with your pediatrician before committing to travel at possibly 3 or 4 weeks.
Breastfeeding & travel with the newborn –
As far as breastfeeding and travel are concerned, yes you can absolutely travel with a breast pump in your carry-on. Just be ready to explain the nifty electronics in your bag, and it will be nothing the TSA hasn’t seen before.
If the green family lane is open at your airport, this will definitely be the line you want to choose. You may also bring onboard as much breast milk (with cooling packs) or liquid formula as the TSA would consider “necessary for your flight duration.” There is no exact amount specified so that they may review each case individually and look over your itinerary—and child.
For both your infant and toddler, you will also be allowed to bring a “reasonable amount” of liquids onboard for them (baby food, cow’s milk, etc.) as long as the children are clearing security with you and the quantities suit the duration of your itinerary.
If everything were to go right on schedule and without complication, I think it could be possible for you to go and have a wonderful time as a family. Do talk with your pediatrician and OB, and take a good look at your schedule because each week makes a big difference at that time in terms of health, healing, and risk factors.
If you decide to keep your plan intact, I’d strongly recommend you guys get travel insurance with a “cancel for any reason” clause if you haven’t done so already. That way, right up to the last minute, you should be able to cancel or postpone the trip without incurring hefty penalties on your airfare or any other prepaid expenses.
The alternative vacation plan –
However, since you have the option of not planning this particular vacation with a newborn and instead waiting some months, I would also encourage you and your husband to think through another possible scenario that you might be able to embrace and enjoy looking forward to this summer without having such an imminent commitment hanging over your heads.
If you can postpone Hawaii until March, when your baby will be about 10 months old, it could still be every bit as much of a wonderful family vacation, which you’ll have the benefit of looking forward to much longer and without it competing for your energy and attention at the same time you’re preparing for your birth.
In the mean time, at around 2 or 3 months this summer, you might enjoy taking a shorter trip as a family to some destination a bit closer to home, but where you’ll be able to get some of that sunshine, rest, and family bonding time. Try somewhere you can reach by car at your own pace, with cheap or free outdoor attractions nearby.
What’s more, a hotel with a pool where your toddler can burn off his energy and you can all enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast that is prepared by—and cleaned up by—someone else may fit the bill perfectly. Come March, you’ll be every bit as ready for that Hawaiian sunshine if not more so.
For more help planning your trip (sooner or later), be sure to read Chapter 3 (Deciding what to Bring) as well as Part 5 of Travels with Baby (affiliate link – thanks for supporting this site with your click-through!). You might also find some ideas to help smooth travel with your toddler in Chapter 5 (Temperaments in Transit). And by all means keep Take-Along Travels with Baby handy during your trip to help keep the baby happy on the go and the toddler, well, busy. Good luck!
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Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks
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