Flying can be stressful enough, but flying with a crying baby takes the stress to another level. It can be difficult to ascertain who is most stressed–you, the baby or the people around you. Whichever it is, you want to make the flight as smooth as possible for everyone involved. Pay attention to your baby’s ears because they are one of the main culprits for causing discomfort to babies on planes.
You need to use extra caution when flying if your baby has an ear infection, says Dr. William Sears on the Parenting website. During an ear infection, fluid clogs the Eustachian tube. Changes in cabin pressure can hurt your baby’s ear. However, unless your doctor tells you that you cannot fly, it is usually OK to fly if your baby has an ear infection, says Dr. Sears.
About Ear Infections
Your Eustachian tube extends from behind your eardrum to the back of your throat. When you don’t have an infection, this tube is open, allowing air pressure to equalize. With an ear infection, fluid collects behind the middle ear and in the Eustachian tube. This clogs them up and doesn’t allow the air pressure to equalize.
Even if your baby does not have an ear infection, she can experience ear discomfort, especially during take-off and landing. You probably want to pop your ear by yawning or chewing gum. You are actually trying to open your Eustachian tube to relieve the pressure and the uncomfortable feeling. All your baby can do is to cry when this happens to her, which actually may open the Eustachian tube.
When to Delay the Flight
If your doctor tells you that your baby has a severe ear infection, one that is bulging or acute, you should postpone your flight for a day or two if possible, says Dr. Lane France, pediatrician on the Baby Center website. Those extra days will make a huge difference in your baby’s comfort. When your baby’s fever subsides and your baby doesn’t seem to be in any more pain, then he is safe to fly. You might want to give your baby an infant antihistamine one hour before takeoff. Just before the flight, you can give him saline nose drops to decrease any congestion. Let him suck on a bottle or breastfeed during take-off and landing.
Keep Your Baby Awake
It is better if your baby is awake during take-off and landing. If you baby is asleep, she probably won’t be for long. People don’t swallow as often during sleep, which makes it more difficult for the air pressure in the middle ear to equalize, according to the Kids Health website. It’s better to prepare your baby than to have her wake up screaming.
Here is some more helpful information concerning babies and ear infections.