When the plane takes off and the cabin pressure changes, you can chew gum or yawn to try to regulate your ear pressure. Your toddler probably doesn’t have the ability to perform these functions on demand. With a little education and some mom-trickery, you can avoid the painful popping — and the potential for a meltdown that it may bring with it.
Delay flying if your toddler has an ear infection or cold, if at all possible. If not, help thin mucous that might line your toddler’s narrow eustachian tubes and respiratory system by offering plenty of fluids in the days prior to the flight, according to KidsHealth. Talk to your doctor about safe ways to help alleviate congestion before take-off, like nasal aspiration.
Offer a toddler-appropriate dose of children’s pain reliever 30 minutes before the flight if you suspect your child will have ear pain or if he’s had it in the past, recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Use your own ears to indicate the change in cabin pressure. Offer snacks that your older toddler can chew on and encourage him to make exaggerated chewing motions to help regulate ear pressure.
Offer your breast, a bottle or a sippy cup to younger toddlers or if offering snacks doesn’t ease your older toddler’s discomfort. Sometimes sucking and swallowing eases ear pressure better than a toddler’s irregular chewing.
Save naps for the middle of the flight because toddlers swallow less when they’re sleeping. Since swallowing helps regulate ear pressure, an awake child might tolerate pressure changes better, according to KidsHealth. Use your judgment. If your child is a particularly heavy sleeper, he might sleep through pressure changes altogether.