Just like with our ears, air pressure changes can cause babies’ and children’s ears to “pop” during plane takeoff and landings. But since children, and particularly babies, have relatively narrow eustachian tubes, their risk of ear pain during air travel is usually much higher than ours. Here are some tips for your young one (and yourself!) to help mitigate the discomfort:
Yawn and swallow!
Yawning and swallowing help open the eustachian tubes so ears can adjust to the pressure more easily. Try the Valsalva maneuver : plug your nose and swallow and then exhale through the nose.
Drink plenty fluids (water is best) throughout the flight. Aside from the fact that swallowing helps open the eustachian tubes, airplane air is dry, which thickens nasal mucus. This makes it more likely the eustachian tubes will get clogged.
Clear up congestion
Having a stuffy nose makes it more difficult for your child’s ear pressure to equalize. Blowing their nose will help, as well as using a saline spray to clear out mucus.
Stay awake during takeoff and landing
We don’t swallow as often during sleep, so it’s harder to keep the air pressure in the middle ear equalized. Keep baby awake during takeoff so there are more chances for her to clear the pressure herself.
Keep baby sucking
Take a bottle or pacifier or breastfeed. If you bottle-feed, make sure your baby is sitting upright while drinking.
Try Mommy’s Bliss SoothEAR
During takeoff and landing the air pressure is not equal which causes pressure in the ears. For Kids ages 2 and up, SoothEAR is a lollipop designed to relieve that pressure. Here’s how it works: As they suck, the suction loosens mucus and clears fluid buildup in the middle ear where the ear pressure lives. That means the pressure that’s causing the pain is relieved and they feel a whole lot better. Though it might not always be easy to get your kids to lay on their side while on the plane, the simple sucking on the SoothEAR pop can still help alleviate much of the pressure in their ears.
- Journal of Pediatrics & Child Health – Air travel and children’s health issues – 2007 Jan; 12(1): 45–50.