Since Ladakh tourism has boomed a lot of families have also started traveling to this high altitude cold desert. The questions like “Can I make a family trip to Ladakh with Kids?” or “Is it possible to visit Ladakh with Infants?“, etc.. have increased tremendously as people from all walks of life are planning Leh Ladakh trip every year.
In this article, let us look at some of the answers to such questions, general know-how, and tips on planning a vacation to Leh Ladakh with Kids.
First and foremost, it is highly recommended that you DO NOT PLAN and completely avoid ANY travel, be it to a high altitude place or a low altitude or just in plains, if your baby or infant* is less than 3+ months old, STRICTLY.
Traveling to a high altitude place like Ladakh or Spiti Valley or any remote place in the world with such young infants or newly born babies or pre-mature born babies is a BIG NO NO.
Well, my personal choice would be to at least wait for any travel until your baby is not at least 12+ months old. Then based upon the place you choose to travel, you can decide if that place is safe for travel or not.
This article is not any medical advice and should not be treated one. At any stage PLEASE CONSULT your pediatrician before making any decision for traveling with infants or kids.
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Kids or Infants* or Babies* more than 3+ months old may similarly react to high altitude as an adult. They have similar tolerance to high altitude. It is because, as per medical advice, after three months, all the organs, including lungs, which helps in the respiration, are grown of the normally born healthy babies. But the case is different for premature babies or babies with some health problems.
Always keep in mind that it will be difficult to identify signs of AMS in babies* or infants* or kids less than five years old due to lack of communication. Hence, you need to be vigilant of your baby’s or kid’s behavior all the time while traveling to Ladakh or other high altitude places.
Although the guidelines or tips for acclimatization mentioned in the article Acute Mountain Sickness and Importance of Acclimatization are applicable for kids or infants* as well but in addition, you can further follow below guidelines when traveling to Ladakh with infants* and children.
Let us look at some of the important tips for traveling to Ladakh with babies or children.
When visiting Ladakh with children, you must ascend or gain altitude slowly to allow proper acclimatization. For example, while going to Rohtang Pass (3990 Mtrs), you can have proper acclimatization by staying one or more days at Manali and then one or more days at Solang Valley as well before visiting Rohtang Pass and further regions of Lahaul and Spiti Valleys.
It will help acclimatize you as well as your baby’s or kid’s body. For the first few days, the night stays must be between the 8000-9000 feet mark, then a couple of days at 10000 feet, and then gradually increasing the night stays about 1000 feet each alternate day. Ladakh’s altitude is high enough to cause AMS issues.
When traveling to Ladakh with infants or kids, always travel from Srinagar Leh Highway with an overnight halt at Kargil and Alchi before reaching Leh. This will ensure proper acclimatization before reaching Leh and will help a lot in making a successful Leh Ladakh trip.
When traveling with kids to Leh Ladakh, you must keep yourself and your kids adequately hydrated (not over-hydrated in any case) by taking care of proper liquid intake and feeding including water.
An adequately hydrated body is key to the acclimatization for both adult as well as kid’s or infant’s* body. Do not over hydrate. (read below warnings)
You must keep your kids or infants protected from the cold conditions by a sufficient amount of warm or woolen clothes. Make sure you carry inner thermals for them along with other required clothing for a Ladakh trip.
The kids or infants* must be protected from the cold by enough warm clothes because many of them tend to catch a cold easily. If they catch even minor cold, then you can (REPEAT you can) find yourself in a difficult to find a proper cure and care for him/her in remote villages of Ladakh.
One of the common dangers in Leh Ladakh is its remoteness and lack of accessibility to the proper medical care, we people are used to in our day to day lives. Hence, it is always best to protect babies or kids from the cold by getting them dressed in extra warm or woolen clothes.
DO NOT casually or lightly take the common cold of your baby or kids in Ladakh or other remote high altitudes places in the Himalayas.
You must cover your kid or infant well enough from rounded hat to protect his/her soft skin from the sun rays which may cause skin burns. Eyes too must be protected from the reflection of sunrays from snow using the shades because the reflection from snow may cause some irritation in kids or infant’s* eyes.
Similarly, the arms must be covered with full sleeves, feet with warm socks and shoes, hands with gloves. In any case, you need to protect the kid or infant* from the sun rays and UV rays which are strong at high altitude places like Ladakh and Spiti Valley.
Check with your doctor about sunscreen lotions that you can use for your kids or infants traveling to Ladakh with you.
Keep your visit or stay at a very high altitude as short as possible. For example, while going to Khardung La with an infant* you must stay for let’s say about 5-10 mins max, keeping the stay to a bare minimum. Similarly, you can avoid the night stay at Pangong Tso or Tso Moriri lakes.
Do not forget the period that may get wasted in traffic jams at such high altitude tourist places. The idea is to keep the stay as short as possible to minimize any chances of altitude sickness.
This clearly WARNS that traveling on Manali Leh Highway with kids or infants or a baby is definitely not something you want to undertake. Same applies to many other high-altitude remote or desolated places including sleeping at Pangong Tso or Tso Moriri if the body is not thoroughly acclimatized
When you travel to remote places like Ladakh with baby or kids, you must keep a check on weather updates. If the weather seems bad on a particular day, when you plan to visit a high altitude tourist attraction (above 10000 feet), then please avoid the travel on that day and stay at the current altitude only. Take extra care to keep the baby or kid warm with woolen clothes on such cold days.
If you notice that your baby or kid is crying too much or having any breathing distress or vomiting or his/her color is changing then IMMEDIATELY DESCEND and get medical help as soon as it is available.
This is why it is important to always consult your kid’s or baby’s doctor at home for the medication in such cases before you start the Leh Ladakh trip with your kid or baby. Carry those medicines from the hometown itself and keep them always with you while sightseeing in Leh Ladakh even on day hikes or day visits to tourist places.
As long as you follow these guidelines along with general AMS tips linked in an article above, you will minimize the chances of altitude sickness getting hit your kid or infant* (above 3+ months age)… Still, make sure you consult your doctor before going on the Ladakh trip with your kid or infant*.
A hydrated body is of utmost importance not over Hydrated (read below) I guess, up to 8000 feet (like up to Manali) there aren’t any major or apparent issues that can be seen with regard to altitude sickness but beyond that altitude (>8000 feet) it is always advised that the body should undergo proper acclimatization be it adult or kid or infant.
I have several reservations on the advice in the linked post at # 8, starting with the dangerous idea of forcing children to drink when they are not thirsty. At best, they will vomit (which will force you to descend ); at worst, they’ll start to develop cerebral edema – either only from water intoxication or as a mixed result from this and altitude sickness. See, for example, Peter Hackett (Everest-climbing doctor and co-author of the CDC altitude advisory ) on this: “Too much water is harmful and can dilute your body’s sodium levels (hyponatremia) causing weakness, confusion, seizures, and coma.”
Being high in altitude, you will face the oxygen problems in Leh Ladakh. Small oxygen tanks of even medical grade oxygen provide a false sense of security. They will at extreme best last for an hour or two. For the value of cheap, portable oxygen solutions see here, # 5 and #7, check here.
It is better to carry a medium-sized oxygen cylinder that can help you in case of any exigency for a sense of safety. You can read about my article on how to carry an oxygen cylinder on the Ladakh trip.
Having said all that, it is still recommended that you CONSULT A DOCTOR or PHYSICIAN before you take your kid or baby* to Ladakh or any other high altitude region just to ensure everything is in right place. Again, the tips in this article are just my suggestions based on my very limited or negligible knowledge of AMS or mountain sickness but I will definitely suggest you that you consult some physician/pediatrician before going on the Ladakh trip because I am not any of them. For more details on this topic, you MUST READ the links mentioned in the references which explain it in better details.
The issue with children is that they tend to exert the body considering it the same kind of place they belong to, and this elevates the chances of getting struck with AMS. Secondly, they are not much expressive about their uneasy feelings, so it is parents who need to watch out and take care that the child is not suffering from uneasy feelings, headache or nausea and is behaving properly.
Let us look at some of the common questions about making a family road trip to Ladakh with kids that I keep answering to readers of my blog.
It depends on person to person to take the children of such an age group because AMS does not matter concerning age or sex or any fitness level. It can happen to anyone of any age or sex or fitness, I shall say. Personally speaking, I will not take such a young child to Ladakh.
With less than a five-year child, I think he/she will also be NOT able to convey the uneasiness she may feel. You have to be vigilant, and if you notice any such feeling or he/she tells you about such a feeling, then please do not ascend anywhere. You should either descend to a lower altitude or stay at the same place to watch things overnight. Of course, if symptom increase then starts descending immediately.
In general, you should be OK to take a 4-year-old kid to Ladakh after consulting with the doctor. AMS does not matter concerning age or sex or any fitness level. It can happen to anyone of any age or sex or fitness, I shall say. With a 4-5-year-old kid, I think he/she would be able to convey the uneasiness with some efforts.
In general, it is fine to take the children of such an age group because AMS does not matter concerning age or sex or any fitness level. It can happen to anyone of any age or sex or fitness, I shall say. With a 5+ year child, I think he/she would be able to convey the uneasiness with little efforts. If you notice any such feeling or he/she tells you about such a feeling, then please do not ascend anywhere, either descend to lower altitude or stay at the same place to watch things overnight. If the symptom increase then starts descending immediately.
Winter in Ladakh is pretty harsh, and I will not recommend that you plan a winter trip to Leh Ladakh with kids or babies. Even for adults, traveling to Ladakh in winter is a challenge in itself.
In general, it is safe to travel Leh Ladakh with kids, but certain precautions need to be taken as a parent before you plan such a trip. Of course, you must consult your pediatrician before making any bookings for your Ladakh trip. Rest, the tips in this article will help in making a safe family trip to the Ladakh region.
Don’t have time to read the full article? Check this short video on Discover With Dheeraj YouTube Channel on these essential tips for making a trip to Leh Ladakh with kids. If you like my video, please do not forget to SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel.
Again: *Infants or babies with age GREATER than 3 months and who are not born prematurely and who do not suffer from heart or lung or any other illness, should only be considered for any kind of traveling, be it to a high altitude or sea or plains. My personal preference or suggestion is that baby or infant or kid with age greater than 12 months and not suffering from illness shall only be considered for any kind of travel.
I hope the information and tips mentioned in this article about traveling to Ladakh with babies or kids will be helpful for you. After going through the above article along with reference links, you can wisely decide whether or not you can make a Leh Ladakh travel with your baby or kid or infant*.
If you know your friends or family are planning a trip to Ladakh, do share this article with them to help them make a memorable Ladakh trip.
Please feel free to share your valuable thoughts and inputs and suggestions. I would be looking forward to your responses as comments below.
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