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Tips For Anxious Parents Flying With Infants

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Tips For Anxious Parents Flying With Infants

Children's Health

Tips For Anxious Parents Flying With Infants

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92863593/92863575" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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(Soundbite of NPR's "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me")

CARL KASELL: From NPR and Chicago Public Radio, this is Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me, the NPR news quiz. I'm Carl Kasell, and here's your host at the Chase Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL: Thank you, Carl.

(Soundbite of applause)

SAGAL: Let me introduce to our panel this week. First, say hello to writer and comedian, Paul Provenza!

(Soundbite of applause)

SAGAL: Next, say hello to a deputy editor and a blogger for the Houston Chronicle, Ms. Kyrie O'Connor!

(Soundbite of applause)

SAGAL: And lastly, well-known television...

ALISON STEWART, host:

Television newschick and sometimes radio host, Alison Stewart!

(Soundbite of clapping)

STEWART: Oh. OK. Hey, you know, that's right, you can't get rid of me that easily. Next week, I'm going to make my debut as a panelist on Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me. Now, full disclosure, I was booked on the show months and months ago. And I thought, well, let me do the math. Baby Ike would be about three months old and, you know, I really didn't want to leave him. So, I said let's take the whole family to Chicago. Bill's got family in Chi-town.

But now that it's upon me, I've already started wigging out about flying with the baby. It's going to be Ike's first venture into the friendly skies and I want to make sure they are as friendly as possible. So, with just hours left in our show here, I'm going to use it for my own devices and get some help. The author of the "Rough Guide to Travel with Babies and Young Children," Fawzia Rasheed de Francisco, joins us. Good morning.

Ms. FAWZIA RASHEED DE FRANCISCO (Author, "Rough Guide to Travel with Babies and Young Children"): Good morning, Alison. Thanks a lot for having me here on your show.

STEWART: Sure. I know I should, as a journalist, go in chronological order in my questions, but I really want to address my biggest fear first. So, what do I do when Ike starts screaming, goes to DEFCON-7 while we're in the middle of the flight?

Ms. DE FRANCISCO: Well, you know, in the first instance, he's three months old, right?

STEWART: Yes.

Ms. DE FRANCISCO: Well, I mean, he's more likely than not to sleep quite happily through the whole thing, and, you know, just his usual in terms of waking up for feeds. But you know, the one thing that I'd suggest is, you know, to try and anticipate any discomfort he might have up on the flight. It's just to start off the flight by trying to time that with his feeds so that he's comforted by you and a good meal, and...

STEWART: And I understand feeding helps with air pressure?

Ms. DE FRANCISCO: Yes. For releasing pressure in the ears, but you can also just give the ears a little tug. So, I mean, if he wants to start screaming, really screaming, then, you know, you'd probably suspect that he was having pressure problems with his ears. And so, once again, just give him something to suck for a little bit and try just pulling gently on his ear lobes to release the pressure. And you know, if that fails, which it might, just bear in mind that screaming is actually a pretty good way for the pressure to be released in itself.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: That's the upside of it. Well, let me ask you a couple of logistical questions. I know some people believe that you should buy a seat for the baby and put them in the car seat. Some people think that you can put them on the lap. Is there - are there rules from different airlines about this?

Ms. DE FRANCISCO: Well, you know, there - particularly in the States, it's very hard to try and get clear guidelines, other than looking on the website of airlines. But from what I can tell, you know, it's really left to the parent. So, in the first place, if you've got a three-month-old baby and you've got a very short flight, most parents wouldn't really, you know, book an extra seat or think too hard about carrying a car seat with, because you can have your child in a carry cot on the table in front of you. That's, you know, that's a free service. They'd anticipate that that's what you'd want and book you into the right seats. And for the short period when your baby might be awake and just wanting a little attention, it's perfectly OK to have him on your lap with the baby seatbelt adjusted to yours...

STEWART: Something else I'm curious about is trying to get through - I'm curious about trying to get through security.

Ms. DE FRANCISCO: Yes.

STEWART: Because there are so many restrictions on bottles these days and in terms of going through the metal detector, am I allowed to carry the baby? Or should I stick with my husband and hand the baby off in between the metal detector? How does that work?

Ms. DE FRANCISCO: Well, I mean, usually security is one of the biggest sort of pains of travel by air, and you know, you have to be prepared for, just like you said, a couple of things. One is disruption. If you're - if your baby is comfortably asleep in your, you know, kangaroo sling or in a cot, you're very likely to be told that you need to sort of get them out so that the, you know, contraptions that you are carrying them can be x-rayed. So, you need to be prepared for someone else to help you out during that period.

But also, with liquids, don't - you know, there are guidelines, but they're - usually the airline staff will be completely accommodating for stuff that the baby needs and reasonable volumes to last them through the flight. So, even though, you know, they'll tell you 100 mls only per item, they'll usually accept more. But it helps to just try and keep that down to minimum and, you know, reconstitute things, like, in formula feed on to flights, and be prepared to get water in the airport and pay for it. Often it's very expensive as well as on the flight.

STEWART: Sure. We only have a few seconds left. Is there one thing I definitely should not do?

Ms. DE FRANCISCO: Well, don't worry too much...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. DE FRANCISCO: And don't think too much about particularly what other people, you know, may be thinking. Parents tend to do a lot of double guessing.

STEWART: Yes.

Ms. DE FRANCISCO: And they wear themselves out with anxieties of, you know, whether other people think they are good parents or not, you know?

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Have you been inside my head? I think you have! Fawzia de Francisco - excuse me, Fawzia Rasheed de Francisco, thank you so much for the encouragement and the good advice.

Ms. DE FRANCISCO: You're welcome. You're welcome. Enjoy the trip. I'm sure it will be great. You've nothing to worry about.

STEWART: Thanks.

Ms. DE FRANCISCO: Bye.

STEWART: The five stages of grief, BPP-style. Producer Ian Chillag weighs in with his candidate for Best Song In The World Today to express the fourth stage of grief, depression. And among the most-emailed stories in the web, how to send a message straight to a cell-phone voicemail. This is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News.

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