There’s nothing quite like the joy of parenthood – and we should know. As a practice comprised of over 85 percent women, most of us are moms. We know about the many delights of being a mother: The look on our little one’s face as they explore the world around them. Their sweet giggles when they uncover an unexpected treat. The piercing, guttural screams they release the second you board an airplane. Okay, that last one is a bit of a stretch. Babies on airplanes can certainly present a stressful situation. Changes in cabin pressure can cause discomfort for any airplane passenger, but babies are especially prone to onboard strife. Read on for some tips to stay sane while traveling with your bundle of joy.
Babies on Airplanes
If you’re a frequent flyer, you know that changes in cabin pressure during takeoff and landing can be a huge pain – in the ears, that is. In-flight ear pain is caused by changes in pressure across your eardrum, or tympanic membrane. It can result in temporary discomfort including muffled hearing, a clogged feeling, or a dull ache for as many as one in three airline passengers.
In-flight ear discomfort can be a major contributing factor when it comes to your baby’s onboard crying. Most adults know how to “pop their ears” on flights to regulate the pressure in their middle ears, but babies don’t understand this. It’s up to you as a parent to help your baby through it. Below are a few ways to ease your baby’s discomfort and ensure that your family doesn’t drive your fellow passengers bananas!
Plan Feeding Times
Adults usually combat in-flight ear pain by swallowing and yawning repeatedly or chewing gum, but babies don’t have the luxury of this simple knowledge. Help regulate the pressure in your baby’s ears by nursing or bottle-feeding during your flight’s ascent and descent. When your baby swallows repeatedly, their ears are more likely to stay open, helping ease any ear discomfort. Keep an eye on your plane’s flight path and make sure to have a bottle ready prior to the plane’s initial descent, which can often take place half an hour or more before your landing time.
Try a Pacifier
One of the reasons it can be tricky to bring babies on airplanes is that infants can be quite finicky creatures. If your baby isn’t interested in a snack during takeoff or landing, sucking on a pacifier can help keep their ears open. Make sure to bring backup options, especially if this is your baby’s first flight.
Choose Your Seat Wisely
Even if you’re an aisle person, consider booking a window seat if you’re flying with a baby in tow. Most airlines allow passengers to carry lap infants free of charge, which is good news. However, booking an aisle seat can make for a long trip trying to keep your little one’s arms and legs from poking into the aisles at inopportune times. A window seat also means that you can distract your little one with exciting views out of the window.
Forego Early Boarding
Many airlines allow passengers to board the plane early if they’re accompanying small children. However, it’s important to think this one through. If you board the plane early, you’ll have to wait an extra half hour or more for the other passengers to board. That time may be better spent letting your kiddo release their wiggles in the airport. Your complimentary ginger ale can wait – we recommend boarding at the last possible minute.
Bring Baby-Friendly Entertainment
In-flight entertainment is your best bet to keep your baby engaged and happy. Bring some of your little one’s favorite books, toys, and blankets to keep them from causing a ruckus that might leave you wishing you could stash them in the cargo hold. You could also download some movies to your phone or tablet beforehand. Be sure to leave the loud, flashing toys at home out of respect for your fellow passengers.
Do you have more questions about babies on airplanes? If you’re concerned about how your baby’s ears will fare during an upcoming flight, reach out to Sound Relief Hearing Center in Colorado or Arizona. As a family-owned practice, we love babies and their parents. If you want to learn more about Sound Relief and the tinnitus and hearing services we offer, please browse our website, visit our YouTube channel, or give us a call at 720-259-9962. You can also schedule an appointment online to meet with one of our audiologists. Safe and pleasant travels!