Altitude Sickness

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Several weeks ago, one of my moderators for the Chronicles Google Group was on a business trip with her infant son. During the trip, her son basically did not sleep–no napping and no sleeping at night. She was of course tired and concerned. Her son has reflux, and they were far from home, so most of us mods attributed it to reflux issues combined with traveling issues.


On the drive home, her son finally calmed down and slept peacefully for naps and almost perfectly through the night. She did some digging because she felt like something more had been affecting him on his trip.


What she discovered was altitude sickness. She lives at sea level and had traveled to 7000 feet in 13 hours–quite the change. 


I would bet most of us are at least vaguely familiar with the concept if we watch sports at all. Any athlete traveling to a higher altitude can have trouble breathing and performing at the higher elevation. You can even to so far as to feel sick. We have all heard of mountain climbers forced to stop their climb due to altitude sickness. 


There is nothing I like more than to drop 3000 feet and go hiking. I feel like superwoman. There is nothing that makes me feel more lethargic than to jump 2000 feet and try to hike…not impressive. 


Here are a couple of articles on Altitude Sickness and babies:

  • How to Help a Baby Sleep at High Altitude
  • Altitude Sickness (from Babycenter)–I have to warn that you can’t necessarily trust things from Babycenter. They have some incredibly false information on Babywise on their website and I told them I would always be sure to let people know they can’t be trusted so long as they keep it there. So take what they say with a grain of salt and always look to more than one source.

Here are some basic tips:

  1. Move to higher elevations as slowly as possible if you are jumping to extreme altitude (extreme in relation to you).
  2. Higher altitudes can make you colder, so watch baby’s temperature closely.
  3. Keep baby well hydrated. Altitude sickness is often caused by dehydration.
  4. Higher altitude means closer to the sun. Cover skin, use sunblock, and stay in the shade.
  5. Higher altitudes are dryer. A humidifier helps moisturize the air.

See the articles for more info. Hopefully this information can help you be prepared and aware when you take a vacation and jump elevations.

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. TheOzz
    August 9, 2011 / 8:43 PM

    Great tips!. It is easy to forget things like this when traveling to exciting places.I got altitude sickness about a month after moving to Cheyenne, WY (6,100 feet ASL) back in 1987 and it was due to dehydration. I was hospitalized for about three days.

  2. The Troutman's
    August 10, 2011 / 12:57 AM

    Thanks for posting this! I have an 11 week old, and we live in South GA. We are going to Tennessee to stay in a cabin for a week and was wondering if the elevation might affect him.

  3. Katie {My Paisley Apron}
    August 15, 2011 / 7:49 PM

    Which is why we haven't taken our kids hiking any 14ers yet, even though we'd love to! :)Also, I COMPLETELY agree with you on Babycenter. They have some good stuff and a lot of total crud. I disagree with about 40% of the information they have, am neutral on about 40%, and agree with about 20%.

  4. Plowmanators
    September 1, 2011 / 3:54 AM

    Ozz, how awful!

  5. Plowmanators
    September 1, 2011 / 3:54 AM

    Katie, I am glad I am not the only one!

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