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12 Tips To Prevent Ear Discomfort In Babies During Air Travel

ear pain when flying

Traveling by air, with a baby in tow? Beware of the one universal challenge parents face – tackling an earache in babies due to changes in air pressure, during take-off and landing. However, with certain planning and strategies, parents can reduce or avoid earaches for their little ones. 

Also Read: Ear Pain in Children

How Does Flying Affect Babies Ears?

Flying can have a significant impact on a baby’s ears due to changes in air pressure during take-off and landing. Babies are more susceptible to ear discomfort and pain during flights because their Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to the back of the nose, are smaller and more easily blocked than those of adults.

When an airplane takes off, the air pressure in the cabin decreases rapidly, causing the air in the middle ear to expand. This can lead to discomfort and even pain in the baby’s ears. Similarly, during landing, the air pressure increases, which can cause the middle ear to contract, leading to further discomfort.

Also Read: When Can Babies Get Ears Pierced?

Symptoms of discomfort in Babies ears due to Flying

One of the most common symptoms of discomfort in babies’ ears during flights is

  1. Crying or fussiness: This is often a result of the pressure changes causing pain or discomfort in the ears, especially during take-off and landing.
  2. Tugging at ears/rubbing them: In an attempt to alleviate the pressure babies might tug or rub their ears.
  3. Difficulty sleeping: Babies have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during the flight.
  4. Refusing to eat: In some cases, babies may also have difficulty feeding or swallowing due to the discomfort in their ears.
  5. General discomfort: Signs such as clenching fists, or arching the back are signs of severe discomfort.

To help alleviate discomfort during flying, here are 12 tips that might make your baby’s travel a lot more comfortable.

  1. Schedule feedings around take-offs and landings
  2. When taking off or landing, it is important to help your baby balance the pressure in their ears. This can be achieved by encouraging them to suck. Hence, whether you choose to breastfeed, bottle-feed, or use a pacifier, this simple act of sucking and swallowing has been proven to greatly reduce the chance of ear pain.

  3. Give your baby a pain reliever
  4. Consult your paediatrician before travel for administering a pain reliever, approximately half an hour before take-off or landing. This can help in alleviating any ear pain due to changes in pressure.

  5. Encourage sleep during travel
  6. If feasible, plan your travel around your infant’s sleep schedule. Sleeping helps in keeping the Eustachian tubes open and alleviates ear strain. If a baby is asleep all through the flight’s ascent and descent, they are less disturbed by ear aches.

  7. Use ear planes for babies
  8. Ear Planes are earplugs designed to regulate air pressure. They are particularly helpful in preventing ear pain for children during flights. Make sure to select the appropriate size for babies and follow the product’s usage instructions.

  9. Stay hydrated
  10. Make sure your little one drinks enough water before and during the flight to avoid ear pains caused by thickened mucus.

  11. Use a warm compress
  12. Consider applying a warm compress on your baby’s ears before and throughout the trip. The warmth can promote better blood circulation and potentially aid in opening up the Eustachian tubes.

  13. Position your baby upright
  14. To make your baby feel comfortable during a flight, it is important to help them swallow and equalize ear pressure. Holding them in an upright position throughout the journey is one way to ease their pain. Hold your baby in your arms or use a safety-approved seat. This reduces any discomfort they might feel during take-off and landing.

  15. Offer a teething toy
  16. Teething toys that encourage chewing can help babies open their Eustachian tubes with the natural motion of their jaw. This is another effective way to ease ear discomfort.

  17. Avoid travelling with a sick baby
  18. If your baby has a cold, ear infection, or upper respiratory issue, their Eustachian tubes may be swollen or blocked, intensifying ear discomfort during a flight. If feasible, delay air travel until your baby gets better or seek advice from your paediatrician.

  19. Keep calm and reassuring
  20. Babies pick up on their parents’ feelings, especially during activities like air travel. Stay calm and comforting during the flight by using soothing words and gentle touches. This helps keep your baby relaxed and content throughout the journey.

  21. Practice Eustachian tube opening exercises
  22. Practice gentle Eustachian tube opening exercises before the flight, such as encouraging your baby to yawn or making funny faces that promote mouth movements. Though results may vary, these exercises can sometimes help in acclimating your baby to the sensation of pressure changes.

  23. Consult your paediatrician
  24. Before travelling, discuss with your paediatrician about concerns related to ear discomfort and flying. They may offer additional strategies or reassure you regarding the tips listed above.

Also Read: Hearing Loss in Children

Babies are unique, hence, what works for one may not work for another. You may have to experiment with a few things to discover what helps your baby the most. If your baby continues to experience ear pain or other problems after flying, consult with a doctor.

To ease ear discomfort in babies during air travel, be prepared and try different methods. By following the tips outlined, parents can ease the potential pain and pressure their little ones might experience, making the journey more enjoyable for everyone involved.

EuroSchool is committed to the well-being of its students and their families. As part of our holistic approach to education and care, we encourage parents to stay informed about common health and well-being issues related to your child. Contact us to know more about our curriculum.


The information provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice. EuroSchool encourages you to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for any health concerns you may have. The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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