I want to take my two-month-old overseas: what should I keep in mind?

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Baby in boat! Photo by mikedarnell1974, used under Creative Commons license.
I'm four months pregnant with my first (due in mid/late September). After the birth, I'll be on maternity leave until the end of the year. Where I live, November/December get extremely bleak, grey and dreary, there's lots of fog and somethimes you don't see the sun for weeks. The failing light and the grey weather usually have a negative impact on my mood, and I'm kind of scared by staying at home with the little one in this season.

I had the idea of spending a month in Japan when baby is about two months old. My husband can arrange to go there for work, and we'd stay in a small furnished apartment. In Japan, the weather is great in this season, lots of sun and beautiful autumn leaves to admire. We lived there for three years, so I am very comfortable over there and I really love the place.

Thing is, there's the 12 hour flight, plus I have no idea what life with a small baby is like and whether this idea would work out at all. Is it wise to take my two-month old overseas for one month? I'd love to hear your input! — Sue

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  1. Do it! My parents traveled with me when I was about that size and they loved it. No spending money on food, no hauling a stroller (They had a sling/snuggli) and they could do what they wanted cause I just slept most of the time. As for the flight, people that complain about babes on long haul flights conveniently forget that they were once that small too 😉 Do comfort nurse/have bottles ready/come armed with choupies (pascifiers?), it'll make the takeoff easier on nugget's ears. Happy travels!

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  2. I think in many ways it seems like a great fit for you knowing that you will be happy there. It's great that is not an unknown place to you. Having to battle seasonal disorder is not easy. Will you have other support there other than your husband? I was grateful to only have family 1 hour away from me while me son was first born and at 2 months we were in the middle of dealing with a very colicky baby and failed breast feeding so I was pumping every 3 hours. Taking a trip/moving would've been intense for me at that point. Having extra support other than my husband was great. My retired parents could come up and help out/parent me during the day sometimes. Although, that said I did have my baby during great weather in the summer (I live in Canada) and couldn't imagine being stuck inside in the winter and gloom at that point. Go with what your gut says. Mom knows best!

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  3. We just got back from a trip to India with our then 3 month old daughter. This is really a great age to travel with a little one, because they are still immobile, which makes the flights much easier than with a squirmy crawler or toddler. Bring a carrier (sling, Ergo, etc..) for the airport and flights, try to check in early so that you can get a bulk head seat, and fly an Asian airline…they are MUCH more kid friendly than some of the north American carriers. This is a great round-up comparison airlines to fly with kids: http://travelsort.com/blog/the-best-airlines-for-kids-and-families Don't let a little one keep you home, get out and explore the world!

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  4. I would say it depends on you. Some people are very adventurous and independent, and can maintain that even right after baby. I'm a less independent type, and on top of that I had post-partum depression after my daughter was born. I could barely get myself out of bed, dressed, and to the store, much less get on a plane to Japan.

    Here's my suggestion: Plan it, but get travel insurance, because you really don't know how YOU'LL feel 2 months after baby is born, and there's no way to really predict. You could be on top of the world, thrilled to be a mom and ready to conquer the world, or you could be a wreck, crying in the corner wondering why the hell you did this to yourself.

    Caveat: I DID feel more human by 2 months, but I didn't feel ready to travel until closer to 6 or 7.

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  5. Flying with them that young is easy (compared to older toddlers)! Baby carrier is a must. Nursing or bottle on take off and landing. They'll just sleep and want to be held. You may want to research local customs regarding babies. Only you can tell if you're up for the adventure, but sounds fantastic to me! You'll have to write again if you go!

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  6. I love travelling with my little munchkin! You will have a great time :) Babies are great travel companions.

  7. Sounds like fun! 2 months is the perfect age for this kind of thing because they're perfectly content to snuggle in a sling most of the day. There's no telling how you'll feel at two months but I was back at work then as we're most of my friends.
    I would try and find some English-speaking people before you go so that you can have someone to meet over there, if even just for coffee once or twice.
    Good luck getting the baby to pose for its passport photos!

  8. Im also due at the end of September! My whole family lives halfway across the country (about a 3.5 hour flight). I very much wanted to visit over the holidays, when baby will be about 3 months old. My husband, however, did some research and is very much against it. What we've found is that travel usually isn't recommended for babies under 3 months due to their compromised immune systems and greater chance of getting sick. We also plan to not do some vaccines and delay most of the ones we do choose to do, so that was also a factor in our decision. Breastfed babies do have a bit of help in that department because mom's milk helps fight off infection. So that's something else to consider. I'd recommend you look up the health risks to baby traveling that long, that, far, on such a long flight. Remember airports will be very congested, especially that time of year. Obviously you need to weigh the benefits and risks and do what's best for your family, but please be aware of and do some more research on this particular risk!

  9. Sounds fantastic! Also, since you'll be there a full month, you're travel dates will be nice and far apart. It's not like you're going on a week vacation where you'll have to deal with two crazy travel days in one week.

  10. Go for it! What a fantastic opportunity. Babies at that age are extremely portable and it may be the best time you have traveling. Get a comfortable baby carrier and you should be good to go!

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  11. Go for it! Babies at that age are extremely portable. Get a comfortable baby carrier and you should be good to go!

  12. My parents moved to Tokyo when I was 3 months old and my mom regularly flew back and forth with me to the States for the next year and a half. From what my mother has told me the people there were really kind and wonderful. I don't know much about it practically but I know that for the flights my mother used paper Dixie cups with warm damp paper towels/tissues in the bottoms to hold over my ears to help with the pressure and popping sensation that children can't get rid of by themselves.

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  13. I don't know what your stance on vaccines is, but they usually start around 2 months, so you'll want to speak with your doctor about either getting the first batch before you go, if you can delay them or get them overseas.

    There's also your health concerns. You'll need to make sure you have a great support system in Japan, especially if your husband will be at work and you're away from friends and family. Developing a postpartum mood disorder could be a possibility and you'll want to make sure you have access to resources (in your chosen language) while you're there.

    That said, as long as you've got your bases covered, it sounds like it'd be an amazing adventure for a new family to have!

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  14. A friend of mine took her baby overseas at about 4 months, and said it was great! She swore by her stroller, which reclined enough that her baby could sleep comfortably. I believe it was a Cybex Onyx stroller.

  15. Sounds fantastic!

    We moved from the UK to the US when my little sister was 8 weeks old (me and my brother were 7 and 5 years). We all flew back and forth a lot in those days. We all handled it very well, as far as I remember, and flying/travelling became a very normal thing for all of us. It can be done!

    I remember sitting in the front row of the plane, with a baby cot attached to the bulkhead for my sister to sleep in – check with the airline to see if this is an option, because it may make it easier for you all to get some rest on a long flight.

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    • This was going to be my comment, almost word for word. awesome!

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  16. I would do it!

    I think my kid was 2 or 3 months old when we took him (by plane) to visit relatives in a different state for the first time. It was – for me – the perfect time to start traveling with him. I felt sufficiently recovered from the birth (not quite fully, but sufficiently) and had that first "ok, I got this" wave. Sleeping was an issue for us, but it was always an issue and would have been an issue anywhere.

    I would bring a really awesome baby carrier and a really awesome stroller, both, because they're useful in different situations, and obviously, you'll want a car seat if you'll be in cars there. I also second having researched post-partum care ahead of time AND I do think travel insurance just in case is a good thing.

    Also – find a mom's group in advance and MAKE yourself go, so you won't be home alone all day. (This goes for where you normally live, too.) LLL, mommy and me yoga, anything. Just make sure you have mom play dates!

  17. I would be careful because of possible health risks connected to the Fukushima situation. I have many friends and some family members living in Japan and there are worrying news about long term effects on food. All the best to you and your child, whatever your choice will be ^^

    • Tokyo is far enough off for the situation to be okay. Also, a month-long stay does not give you the kind of long-term exposure people are worrying about.

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      • I don't know, some of the people I know are living in Tokyo and are telling me there have been many cases of contaminated food. News just don't circulate a lot outside Japan. But of course I am not there so take this with a grain of salt.

  18. Japanese baby stuff is so pimp

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    • Yes! Their kid stuff, too. I want one of those lunch bento sets so bad.

  19. I think that would be a totally wonderful experience. Japan is a fascinating place, too, and a baby would be a pretty good conversation-starter in a country where it can sometimes be difficult to meet people. I mean, if I had the chance, I'd do it in a hot second!

    I second what another commenter said about Asian Airlines – JAL was awesome to me when I flew with pets (not the same as a baby, yes, I know, but still outstanding service). My only warning is to be certain to have access to English-speaking doctors, or at least have a really good interpreter. Japanese health care is excellent, but it doesn't do you any good if you can't explain what's wrong.

    Good luck to you in whatever you choose and congrats on your upcoming bundle of joy!

  20. I'd say go for it!! Traveling with a 2-month-old is probably one of the easiest ages to travel with. S/he won't want to crawl, go anywhere, won't get as bored, etc. As long as baby has warm milk and cozy arms, you should be fine on the plane. I would HIGHLY recommend some sort of baby carrier, perhaps a ring sling if you want to travel really light. Great for airport and airplane, plus everyday travel. If you plan to breastfeed, food will be easy. If you will be formula feeding, make sure the formula you use is readily available where you will be going.

    Also, depending on who you are, maybe plan an "out" for yourself too, if you can. Sometimes it can be hard to know how you'll feel after your baby is born and what your needs will be.

    All in all, though, I think this sounds AWESOME!!

  21. Thanks so much for all the encouraging comments! Of course it'll depend all on the health of baby and me post partum, and I'll be definitely getting travel insurance in case something happens to make it seem like a bad idea, and be checking with the pediatrist beforehand. I'm hoping to breastfeed and I'm planning to use a baby sling (in fact, in Japan most women carry their babies since it is much more convenient for public transport).

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  22. I flew for 12 hours when my baby was 2 months old, then back when she was 3 mos. It was fine!

    My biggest tip: be kind to YOURSELF on the flight, and don't worry about proving anything. On the first flight, I was pretty tense and probably tried to force my baby to nurse any time she made a peep, because I was worried about what people around me thought. She was perfect… until the final two hours, when she screamed constantly. On the way back, I decided to be kind to myself, telling myself that my baby crying was harder on me than on anyone else, and I also decided to just accept that she would be unhappy some of the time. I also bought chocolate. 😀 That flight felt so much easier, and we both actually slept!

    One more suggestion: get a flight during the day, not during the night. A baby that age will sleep during night or day, but people around you will be much more irritated (and the flight will be much more boring for you) if you and the baby are up all night. I think that was another big thing that made the flight back easier. (The first flight was flying West on the longest night of the year, so it was a depressing 18 hours of darkness. Never again!)

    Traveling at this age is easy because the baby really isn't interested in toys yet and doesn't require a lot of entertainment beyond a boob and a few smiling faces. Enjoy!

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    • Oh, and this is obvious perhaps, but double-check with the airline to make sure you get a bulkhead seat with a bassinet. You'll probably have to pay 1/10 the cost of a regular ticket for an infant, but this way you have some place to put your baby down if you need. My baby hated to be anywhere but in my arms, but it was still nice to have the bulkhead in part because that put me into the row of seats with ALL the babies… and I always ended up with an empty seat next to me because the single person who was supposed to sit there took one look at the row of infants and asked to sit somewhere else. :) On the way back I chatted the whole time with the mom of a 10 mos old, and it was really fun! I was flying alone, though, and this will all probably be easier if you're traveling with your partner.

      Also, bring a carry-on with WAY more diapers than you think you need for the flight. And a few full changes of clothes for the baby AND for you. Trust me. :)

  23. Well, I can't remember the experience myself, but I was born in Japan and my mom traveled alone with me back and forth to the US several times in the 1980s. She never thought it was a big deal and didn't have any problems traveling with an infant. The only issue came when I was old enough to want to be potty trained and getting up every time to use the airplane toilet wasn't quite as convenient as diapers. I sounds like you have a fantastic opportunity, enjoy the time in a country you love! Also, you little one will love seeing pictures of his/herself in Japan and hearing stories about the adventures you had, I know I treasure those photos and memories of stories my parents tell about living in Japan.

  24. Do-able!
    We flew from Portland, OR to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan when baby was 8 weeks old. It was 3 flights total and he slept most of the journey.
    I brought a ring sling and he was super content. (On take-off and landing prepare to have to take the baby out of the wrap/sling, ridiculous in my opinion!)
    I pumped and froze breast milk, 4 pouches, I think. The flight attendants were very helpful and happily gave me ice refills to keep it cold, and gave me hot water to warm it up. I took my pump (medela swing) on the plane and am so glad I did. My baby ended up sleeping for 5 hours at one point and since I had only used the bottle, I started to become engorged, so I was glad to be able to "pump and dump."
    By the time we were on our last leg, we were out of expressed milk and I comfort nursed him on demand.
    I was EXTREMELY nervous about the flight, I was convinced that passengers would be screaming at me because my baby was crying, and as with most anxiety, it was just fine.
    Re: fears of postpartum, have you considered placenta encapsulation? I have struggled with regular depression since my late teens, my doula suggested I get my placenta encapsulated. Depending on where you live it may be available. It worked for me, and I highly recommend it as a precaution against postpartum.
    Good luck!

  25. I'm married to a US Foreign Service Officer (a diplomat), and within the Diplo-family community people are always taking long-haul flights with young babies. Many families choose to take a long leave from post and return to the U.S. to give birth. And then the family flies back to post when the baby is about 6 weeks old. This means we have 6 week old babies flying from the US to India, Nigeria, Cambodia, etc….all over the world really.

    So you certainly wouldn't be doing anything out of the ordinary or dangerous by traveling with an infant to Japan.

  26. Two things. First: make sure you apply for a passport immediately after your child is born and pay the rush fee. Second: if both parents are not traveling together, write a letter saying you both approve the international travel and have it notarized. Bring your child's birth certificate so that you can prove that you are his/her parents.

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