Backpack to Buggy

Travel with the kids, not for the kids.

Backpack to Buggy random header image

Take-off and Landing: Managing infant ear pressure on airplanes.

August 13th, 2008 · No Comments · Tips & Tricks

A few days ago I read a piece from Antonia Malchik at the Perceptive Travel Blog called “Have baby. Will travel. But how? Here’s some free, highly prejudiced advice” where she highlighted how the standard advice on travel with infants falls short. The first canned advice in any how-to is: 1. Nurse or bottle-feed during take-off and landing. I wanted to add to her counsel based on my own experience.

1) Taxiing is not take-off. I made the mistake of handing over the bottle too soon on our first flight when Mirielle was about 2 ½ months old. She was crying and I wanted to comfort her. A few minutes after we pulled out of the gate, I started to feed her. We were in line for over 45 minutes so I was out of milk (bottle and boob) long before we started gaining altitude.

Now I know to let her cry, cry, cry. In a sad attempt to make the passengers in earshot feel a little better, I will say in a loud voice, “Not until the captain says, ‘flight attendants take your seats,’ little one. I know you want your milk now, but if we wait until takeoff, everyone will be happier. You will cry now, but I don’t want you crying in the air.”

I have no idea if it makes them feel less anxious about a long flight with a crying infant near them. As Mirielle did not cry during those first flights, I hope the passengers that heard me gave the next parent-infant team a little sympathy.

Now to the point – the magic phrase is “Flight attendants, take your seats for departure.” That is the signal to you the airplane is next in line and headed for the runway. Have the milk/breast ready but wait until you hear the engine roaring to start. It is OK to wait – pressurization does not affect ears until a few hundred feet off the ground.

Waiting for takeoff.

Waiting for takeoff.

2) Let sleeping babies lie. If you baby is asleep for take off or landing – leave them there. Their ears may be stuffed when they wake up, but everyone is better off if they are asleep. Be ready with at least a bottle of water in case any pain in the ear causes them to wake up. I was freaked out the first time my daughter fell asleep for take-off. What was going to happen? Should I dream feed her to prevent her eardrums from exploding?

Look at your little one sleeping. He or she makes little sucking movements while asleep. (I assume they dream of eating as it is a large part of their life.) Anyway – the movement of the jaw from this sucking has to relieve some pressure. So far, I haven’t had a peep.

3) Each child is different. On our flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco, the two children in front of us were howling on the ascent. They were about 2 and 4 years old. It seemed strange the way they both were having so much pain. As we were not flying a US airline, the flight attendants brought juice boxes to help but it did not make a difference. After about a half an hour they calmed down. I figured it might have been the shape of their ear canals or something.

How each child adapts to flight is different so you can do your best to help them, but some of it is just nature. Also, the cries are not as loud as you think they are. Jet engines drown out a lot of noise.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Tags: ·

No Comments so far ↓

Like gas stations in rural Texas after 10 pm, comments are closed.