With the holidays coming up, it’s time for that year-end break with the family. When you are travelling with children, planning is important so you do not leave anything to chance.
Air travel and how it affects infants and young children is a common concern, especially ear pain during take-off and landing. The trick is to have a bottle of milk ready for your infant, and sweets or drinks for older children. Sucking on a bottle, straw or hard candy can ease the build-up of pressure in the ears.
Be sure to get your child the appropriate vaccinations before embarking on a trip. Where are you going? How long will you be away? Are there incidences of infectious diseases in the places you are travelling to? How old is your child? These questions determine the need for vaccinations. Check that your child’s vaccination schedule is up to date, particularly for diseases like diphtheria, pertussis, polio, tetanus, mumps, measles and rubella. Here are some vaccines to consider:
- Hepatitis A or typhoid vaccines are recommended for visits to developing countries where food or water sanitation facilities may be less than adequate or ideal
- Influenza vaccine may help to prevent flu during winter travel
- Vaccines for infectious diseases like yellow fever are recommended for travel to countries like South America or Africa
The body takes time to build antibodies after vaccination, and for some vaccines, more than one dose may be required. Make an appointment with your paediatrician at least one to two months before travelling, so there is sufficient time to plan your child’s vaccinations.
If your child has any chronic medical conditions, plan a medical review beforehand so that treatment can be prescribed. This allows your paediatrician to identify any potential problems that may occur during travel, as well as advise on what to include in your travel medical kit.
Note down important numbers and addresses in case of emergency situations, especially if you are travelling to rural areas. This includes contact details of clinics, hospitals and emergency medical services. Having them on-hand will save time, which is critical in emergencies. Before you leave, check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for any travel advisories on your destination.
Being prepared can ensure that your family vacation is low on stress, and big on fun
Important to note
- Refrain from allowing your child to eat street food, raw or partially raw food
- Avoid wild animals such as dogs and monkeys, as rabies is still present in many countries
- Keep a mosquito repellant on hand to reduce the risk of diseases such as dengue fever, malaria or Japanese encephalitis
- Hand sanitiser or wipes can minimise your child’s risk of contracting diseases like hand-foot-and-mouth disease
- Check your hotel room to identify any potential danger spots, such as electric sockets and kettles, sharp furniture edges, slippery bathroom floors and open balconies. Keep your child away from these areas and stash toiletries out of their reach
- Keep a close watch on young children at all times, especially at the pool or the beach
- Get proper insurance coverage when travelling as mishaps can happen, even with the best-laid plans
Dr Leo Deng Jin
Thomson Paediatric Centre (Bukit Panjang)