Date: June 1, 2010
Whether you're traveling with a baby or a 5-year-old, you need to be prepared for the unexpected: While visiting relatives or friends, your child could get a fever, step in a poisonous plant in the yard or get bruised while playing basketball in the driveway. These wise tips help prepare you and your child to breeze through air travel as well as typical kids' accidents.
There is no set age when a baby is "ready" to go on vacation. But generally, it's safe at 2 weeks old. "That's when the heart and lungs are mature enough to safely travel by air," says Dr. JJ Levenstein, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.
However, doctors discourage taking any child who isn't up-to-date on immunizations out of the country. "This can lead to serious illnesses," Dr. Levenstein says. A chat with the pediatrician or the travelers section of the Centers for Disease Control web site (www.cdc.gov) will clue you in on the vaccines your child needs.
Just don't wait too long." Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks in advance of traveling to be effective," Dr. Levenstein says.
Up in the air
To keep your baby from throwing an in-flight fit, forgo him looking "cute" and let him travel in "comfy" clothes (PJs are a great choice). And sucking on a bottle or pacifier during takeoff and landing minimizes ear pain caused by the changing air pressure. If flying is particularly painful, Dr. Levenstein suggests giving one dose of weight/age-appropriate pain medication about an hour before boarding,
On the road
Wondering what to do if a fever breaks out on the road? Travel with peace of mind and tuck your pediatrician's number in your wallet. "Usually, doctors can offer instructions over the phone," Dr. Levenstein says. Can't reach your doctor, or prefer your child be seen in person? If you're visiting a family with children, their pediatrician can be a great resource. "I've seen lots of kids who've gotten ill while visiting family in town," Dr. Levenstein says.
Don't freak out if you packed plenty of spare socks but forgot the inhaler. Pediatrician's can usually call in an out-of-state prescription to get you through the trip. Unless the medicine is a controlled substance—like cough medicine with Codeine or one that treats ADHD—as those require an in-state license, Dr. Levenstein says.
Reactions to poison ivy, oak and sumac plants are all pretty similar: They're itchy. The itching, redness and blisters will clear up on its own in one to three weeks. Dr. Jack Lesher, chief of dermatology at MCGHealth Medical Center in August, Ga. says if your child is uncomfortable, over-the-counter topical treatments (like Benadryl or Calamine) offer brief relief from itching, but need to be reapplied according to directions. "Try to keep the area clean and dry to reduce the chance of infection caused by excessive scratching." If the rash is widespread, the doctor may prescribe an oral corticosteroid, such as prednisone.
Bumps and bruises
When a child's knee makes an abrupt introduction with the sidewalk Gustafson says always clean the skin with mild soapy water to get rid of any tiny pebbles, dirt, etc. If the skin is broken apply Neosporin or a similar ointment and cover with a bandage to keep the scrape clean. Soothe bruises with ice wrapped in a wash cloth for short periods of time (no more than 5 minutes—you don't want frost bite).
Pinpointing the plant
Rashes look similar, but poison ivy, oak and sumacs plants all differ a bit. Here's how to tell know which one your child may have wandered into:
Poison ivy. The most common of the three, it grow thick or climbs tree like a slithery vine. Still not sure? If you see leaves in three -- let it be. Poison ivy leaves vary in color and shape but typically grow three leaflets to a stem.
Poison oak. A low plant or bush with oak tree-like leaves. Like poison ivy, poison oak leaves are grouped in threes.
Poison sumac. A bush or a small tree, poison sumac has two rows of leaves on each stem and a leaflet at the tip.