What do you need to consider when thinking about Kids Health when Flying?
Children seem to become unwell very quickly and unexpectedly. Check the terms of your insurance policy to ensure under what circumstances you can cancel your trip and be compensated for any medical expenses, and if there is any excess you need to pay.
Despite the additional cost, I would recommend getting a travel insurance policy which gives you the highest cover (with the least excess) possible. Certain countries have reciprocal medical arrangements with Australia (see medicare ), which means you are entitled to assistance with the cost of medical treatment in those countries (if you are an Australian resident) and cover for any medically necessary treatment you require while in any of those countries on presentation of your Medicare card or passport.
However, do not expect all medical professionals in the country you are seeking medical treatment to be on top of the reciprocal arrangements with Australia. It is better to check this out in advance (and take any relevant print out with you).
If you have private health insurance, check what cover (if any) you have overseas. Given how quickly kids health when flying can change it's worth ensuring you have some kind of cover.
To the extent possible, I would recommend keeping a baby or toddler away from childcare, playgroups etc in the 3-4 days before going on a long haul flight.
Admittedly, one can never protect anyone completely from any virus which is going around – but, given that you are going to be in claustrophobically close proximity with your little ones, if there is a chance that you can lessen the likelihood of a cold, flu or gastro, then why not?
Also, with all the fears of swine flu, if you arrive at your destination and then want a local GP to check your baby or toddler for a cold, ear infection or tummy bug, you don't want to find that you are treated as a potential carrier of a pandemic virus.
Also, try and keep meals for your child simple in the 24 to 36 hours before you fly – again to ensure that tummies are as settled as possible.
In case your baby or toddler is unwell in the aeroplane, consider taking a few basic medical items. Some things to take when considering Kids Health when Flying:
Firstly, some Panadol (or equivalent).
Secondly, Pedialyte or equivalent) in case of a tummy upset.
Other useful items are nappy cream, antiseptic cream, something for teething relief, some vials of saline solution (and a nasal aspirator) and antiseptic wipes and or antiseptic hand gel.
You will, however, need to check the restrictions on carrying large amounts of fluids, aerosols or gels on board (see below).
To be on the safe side (and also, in case items are confiscated) take small bottles only. Consider also taking a small medical thermometer.
Do make sure that you are all up to date with relevant inoculations for any country you are stopping in. However, it is best not to leave immunisations until the last minute before flying in case of a reaction.
Another thing to consider adding to your bulging on-flight bag are some "Ear Plane" ear plugs. A number of older babies and toddlers suffer dreadfully with the changes in air pressure on take off and landing.
If your baby is breastfed, you can breastfeed them at the relevant times. A dummy can also help. Otherwise a bottle may assist. However, I have witnessed a couple of instances where a parent has given a young toddler a significant amount of formula/milk to comfort the child on take off/landing, only for the child to vomit it up a while later.
Air travel can play havoc with the delicate tummies of some children. For some older children, sucking a lolly may be enough. However, if you have a child with sensitive ears, do have a look at what is written about "Ear Planes".
These are some of the basic considerations when thinking about kids Health when Flying.
If you are considering sedating your child for a long trip, you should discuss the pros and cons with a medical practitioner before doing so.
Most children seem to travel quite well, all things considered, despite the concerns of the parents before hand.