Baby on Airplaine

Updated on May 19, 2010
S.C. asks from Los Angeles, CA
21 answers

Taking our 11 month old on a 12 hour plane ride. I'm a little afraid that baby might get an earache on take off or landing, I have heard this is a common problem. Other than breastfeeding, what can I do to alleviate ear discomfort on take off and landing? (FYI - he won't take bottles nor pacifiers). I also need suggestions to keep him entertained and deal with the fact that he won't have his own seat. Any other sanity saving tips for air travel will be appreciated.

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answers from Dallas on

"Ear drops which numb the eardrum (Auralgan) can be used to ease the pain. They can be purchased without script."

from here, but it is not an American site, so I don't know if the us carries that.

You can also feed him finger foods for the take off landing part to help with the ear pain.

lots more great tips in that link as well as in this one:

Bring some little activities for him that is new for him to discover, like magnet play mats, a eye spy bag, magnadoodle, sticker book, large puzzle... things that you can help him to do keep him interested.

(i spy bags)

(magnetic puzzle)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I've had a lot of good advice from the mamas on this site with my question of a 17 month old on a 12 hour flight. Come see my question and read the answers... really good ideas!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

We just flew with our 12 month old. I brought some little toys for her to play with that were new (I got at dollar stores) plus some that were her favorite. Things would keep her attention for 30- 1 hour before she got bored of them. I gave her a pacifier on take off and landing and she did not have trouble with her ears. She also slept for a take off and landing and seemed fine. I read somewhere else that if they really have trouble with their ears, have a flight attendant soak 2 napkins in really hot water, wring out and put in two plastic cups and hold them over the baby's ears.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Hi! I'm a mother of two kids who are now ages 12 and 11. I'm also a flight attendant. Been one for 20 yrs. Since he won't take bottles of pacifiers, breast feeding would be best. Just time it and possibly prolong his feeding till you take off or land. That's what I did w/ both my children when they were babies. They never took a bottle or pacifiers either!

FYI, ear discomfort usually only happens on landing and not usually on take offs. It starts on the descent. Descents are usually started about 45 mins. before actual touchdown. This is the time we hear babies/children start crying from the ear pain. When we go to see what's wrong, more than half the time we find out that the children/babies have a cold or are sick in some way!

RULE NUMBER ONE: NEVER, NEVER TRAVEL WHEN YOU OR A CHILD IS SICK!!!! ESPECIALLY WITH A COLD!!! Majority of passengers do not know this rule!! We, flight attendants, always have to point this out to a lot of passengers. The pain you/children will experience can be EXCRUCIATING!!! I have blown out both my ear drums twice!!! It was EXCRUCIATING as an adult so can you imagine what it's like for a child?

In both my cases I was on duty but I was not sick. Or so I thought.............I was baffled by this because I didn't have a fever or a cold or sick in any way. Doctor told me that my body was probably already getting sick inside but the symptoms weren't showing on the outside yet.

IF, and that's a big IF, you or your child can't help but travel with a cold then you will need non-drowsy Sudafed or something like that to take 1 hr. BEFORE landing. Since my children are older now, I don't know what they have for 11 mo. old babies. People who have a ear discomfort take Sudafed like products even if they aren't sick but just to help alleviate the pain during descent.

As for entertainment, besides bring along your child's favorite toy, I would highly suggest bringing "new" toys for the flight. If you just bring the same old toys they always play with you won't keep them entertained for long!

We always went to the toy store to purchase some new toys for the kids to play with before we would go on the trip. Nothing expensive Just little cheap toys that will entertain them on the flight. Match box cars, books, blocks, crayons, coloring books, etc...... For the blocks, you might not want to get the wooden blocks as they might start banging them together and irritate passengers around you or worse.............throw them at people! We would get the soft blocks or the bigger version of the lego blocks that are about 3 ins. long and about 2 ins. high.

We would get one "toy" for every hour we would be on the plane plus a couple extra. Kids get bored easily and then stop playing with a particular toy. Every hour they were awake and started to get fussy we would break out a "new toy" for them to play with. This worked fabulously with both kids! We would wrap them, too, so they could enjoy opening their "presents." We've been on PLENTY of 12 hr. flights when the kids were little!! You can never have enough "entertainment" for them!

Portable DVD player with kid shows also works great. BUT.................word of wisdom, PLEASE don't forget to bring headphones for you little child!!!! As a crew member, I am always amazed on the plane at how many parents don't have the headphones and proceed to play their little dvd with the volume turned up LOUD so their child can hear it!!! Just put yourself in the other passengers place for a moment.............would YOU want to hear Barney for 12 hrs???!!!!! And don't get the ear bud type of headphones, a lot of little children don't like that and just keep pulling them out. Get the ones that look like the Bose headphones that actually go over the entire ear.
Believe me, the other passengers will thank you AND the crew will thank you because we don't have to go over to you and tell you that you can't play your dvd without the headphones because you're bothering everybody around that are trying to get some rest!

Bring ENOUGH diapers!!! I'm also amazed at how many parents will go on a flight that last HOURS and all they have are half a dozen diapers!!! They then ask us if we have any diapers on the plane! My particular airline does have a COUPLE of EMERGENCY diapers but we can't stock you for the whole flight!!! Other airlines might not be as generous as us and they might not have ANY emergency diapers for you!

Bring enough snacks for your child. Again, I'm amazed at how many parents won't even bring ANYTHING in the way of snacks for their child on a flight that's HOURS long!!! They think the inflight meal will suffice. It won't!!

Lastly, have lots of patience, a sense of humor and RELAX!!! The long flight will be only as stressful as you make it.

Hope this helps! Have a safe and enjoyable flight!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Hi Sandy,

We went on a 3 hour plane ride when our son was about 15 months old or so and I did all sorts of research, bought earplanes, the whole nine yards. We got in line with the kids and people that need help, we schedule the ride at his nap time, we were ready to give him his bottle, etc. The problem came when they lined us up, but then waited another 15 minutes to start letting us on the plane. The meltdown started, we gave him the bottle early, by the time we got on the plane he wasn't drinking bottle, but had fallen asleep. When the plane took off, he woke up screaming in pain and we had a screaming baby the whole way to our destination. It was hands down the worst experience! To watch my child scream and grab at his ears was almost more than I could handle, but then to couple it with the other passengers angry looks was just awful. It was a terribly helpless feeling.

On the way back, however, we sent my Mom and husband on the plane first, while my son and I stayed back and played in the waiting area and we were the very last people on the plane. I know I will get blasted for this next part, and it's up to you what you decide to do with it, but we then gave our son 1 ml (that's uber tiny amount) of children's dimetapp when we sat down on the plane. We then started playing and having as much fun as possible. When the plane started to taxi down the runway (not in line, but actually taxi'ing to take off), my husband got the bottle out and as the plane started to take-off, we gave him the bottle. He slept soundly for 2 hours, woke up and was happy as a clam, playing and watching the movies on the back of the seat, eating his snacks, etc. It was the best birthday present I've ever had. The tiny little bit of dimetapp I gave my son was well worth not having to watch him scream in pain because his ears hurt so badly. 1 ml is miniscule, the usual dosage is 1 tsp.

For toys, I read a great post once, where the mom put new cheapy toys from the dollar store in brown paper bags (like the toys were wrapped) for the child to open on the way there. Being new toys, they played with them longer. We also downloaded our son's favorite show on our iPod for him to watch as well.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Kids are all different, as you know. I've flown many times with both of mine when they were this age. Here's different things that worked for keeping them entertained.
1. Snacks in dixie cups/easter eggs--they love to take out and put in, and putting the snack in a container made the 10 cheerios last about 30 minutes.
2. something that lights up. when it got to nighttime, mine loved things that flashed off and on.--even a mini flashlight would work--at the dollar store they had those things that spin and light up--kids loved it.
3. fingerplays. At that age, both of mine liked "little bunny fru-fru" and "there was a little turtle, lived in a box" and "Here's alittle bunny with ears so funny" I literally did those three for 90 minutes. (if you don't know them, you can contact me or look them up :-)
4. I will reiterate the baby carrier. I put mine in it and walked the aisles when they got cranky or tired.
5. Several times, to prevent melt-downs, I went to the bathroom and let them play in the sink (just clean up before you leave!)
6. I, also, bought a "bag of tricks" which was new toys. I know someone else mentioned wrapping the toys--this also worked very well for my kids and extended the play factor. I did dollar store items and other inexpensive items. And, I have to say, sometimes we didn't use them but it was ALWAYS nice to have something.
7. Bring snacks or energy bars for yourself. It takes a lot of energy to keep a one year old entertained and happy for that long. Don't neglect yourself or you'll find yourself not able to cope.
8. Don't forget timeless games like "this is the way the horsie goes", peek-a-boo, etc. kids will play these much longer than we will, typically.
9. Mine loved to rip things, so I brought several old magazines and let her rip them (bring a couple trash bags-always useful on a trip)
10. We brought clothes pins (and safety pins--they might not make it trhough, but we've always had no trouble) and made a "tent" for her with her blanket. Helped her sleep.

Lastly, for the ears problem there were several things recommended to me. The swallowing is what helps, so anything that would keep your child swallowing: dipping something in sugar worked--pacifier, baby spoon, etc. My pediatrician recommend (and it worked great) bringing a whole apple and taking a bite and letting her suck on it. She wasn't eating solids yet, but sucking on the apple kept her happy for the whole of landing. You do have to be careful she doesn't get a piece, though. You can also take a clean washcloth and dip in ice water, juice, etc. and let her suck on it. For some reason it is usually fascinatiing to suck on a washcloth. (and a washcloth can be useful later on! just bring a ziplock to put it in).

Oh, and ALWAYS bring two extra outfits for the children :-)
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I got fruit snacks for taking off and landing. It really helped since they wouldnt let me breastfeed during those times. Small wrapped presents helped take up time and you can re-wrap them for the way back home. Potable dvd players are great too. Good luck.



answers from Los Angeles on

Take the baby car seat, if there are any empty seats they will let you have it. call the airline the day before and ask if thee are any empty seats, they can
" Block" them for you. It will be a HUGE help for you if you can out the baby in his own seat and have your hands free, let 's say, to go to he bathroom etc. And the baby will sleep much better in his own seat.




answers from Milwaukee on

Never had a problem with my kids having earaches on planes.. but I always gave them a little Tylenol about 30 minutes before. As for entertainment, it's all dependent on what your little one likes to do.. Just bring lots of different toys and bring them out little by little.. switch them out when he gets bored of the one he has.. that way the toys will last a longer time.. Hopefully you will get a good airline and they will try to get you a little more room (usually try to put up in the bulk head seats with an empty seat for the baby if possible) You can call the airline and put in an infant request so they know you are coming and will try to place you where there is more room. Get up and walk around often that will help them keep busy.. Snacks are great as well.. Don't forget food for him as most airlines will not supply food for the little ones. I did fly with SAS and they gave my daughter some ice cream and a little sticker book and a little sleeping bag.. That was a great airline to fly with little ones and I've flown with US airlines which had nothing and would not try to give us the bulk head seats even though I had done 3 infant requests before we even got to the airport.. So check your seating when you are checking in and make sure you get good seats if you can. Think about safety. I would call the airline and find out if they supply little seat belts for your little one and a life perserver. SAS supplied these things but US airlines did not.. So if they do not supply these things you need to think about that. hmm.. trying to think of other things.. I may update this from time to time if I remember some things.. We didn't quite have a 12 hour flight we had a 9 hour.. good luck



answers from Des Moines on

I wouldn't consider any thing other than breast feeding if possible... when I first took my son he was a lap baby too - so feeding during take off and landing was no big deal.

I also made the mistake of bringing too much entertainment - all he wanted was to play with me and to interact with other passengers, and to sleep.

Bring a favorite book, a favorite toy, lots of wipes and a few great favored snacks --- and make friends with any other parents on the flight (so they may be willing to give you a short break!)



answers from Miami on

Hi sandy. I have not flown yet internationally but plan to very soon. I was given the following advice:
1. have a small bag of new small toys that he has never seen to enthrall him.
2. DVD player and some DVDs
3. Baby carrier (ergo? baby bjorn? or other) to make the getting on and off the plane/security etc. easier for you!
4. small bottle mineral water also for washing hands and face.
5. SNACKS. I was told just to let him enjoy whatever he wants on the plane.
6. own blanket

HTH and GL.



answers from Boston on

I have not flown that long yet! I've been on 6 flights so far with my 6 month old. As for ear pain, for us that was not a problem on take off and landing - even with an ear infection (I suspected it and confirmed once we got where we were going). He was miserable on that flight, but not b/c of pressure changes- he was fine at time I felt my ears pop.
I found I didnt need many toys, he liked passengers and me and the tv in the back of the seat! If he walks, go up and down the aisles.

And if you wear a baby carrier, you can go through security with it on, just dont have a coat on underneath or you will have to take it off! u also may get a pat down of the carrier at security. actually that made me feel safer because it seems like a place to hide stuff!

good luck with travels



answers from Los Angeles on

My ped gave us ear drops to numb the ear for take off and landing. My kids were fine with one dose for a 5 hours flight but for 12 you may need a second for the landing. It takes about 1/2 hour-45 min to kick in. When I had an 18 mo. old we walked around the airport and then gave her benadryl before the flight so she would sleep. But when they were older we stuck to red eye flights so they would want to sleep anyway. If you do not want to do the meds even if your l/o is sucking on like a sucker. You can get sugar free and that will help with ears.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I recently stumbled upon this information in a magazine. I don't know if your baby is going to fly on your lap but thought this was interesting information. I had honestly never thought of it when I was flying with a "lap baby". Would you ever sit your child on your lap riding on a roller coaster? How about cruising at 75 mph down the highway? The policy of the airlines - that any child under age of two can fly for free (in the US) if they sit on an adult's lap for the entire flight. This is not a good Idea! Some parents assume that if the arilines allow lap children, it must be okay. After all, the airlines are the experts, why would they put any of their passengers in danger? What parents don't realize is if a plane did crash it would be absolutely impossible to hang on to your child. The force of impact would propel the little 20 pound baby out of his parents' hands with the force of an 80-100 pound object. Strapping the child to you is also a very bad idea. If the plane comes to a sudden halt or crash, your body will automatically be thrown forward and forced down, on top of your baby, possibly crushing him. Even simple turbulence can be difficult with lap babies. It is often difficult to simply hang on to a baby on your lap in good conditions. Turbulence is a regular occurence and can be rough enough! It can open overhead bins and send items hurling through the plane and even throw non-belted adults around.



answers from Denver on

My son just turned 2, and we have been on over 25 plane rides. Our last one was over 20 hours, and here we are in Saudi Arabia! His first time was on a plane, and I gave him Tylenol a little before we took off, and nursed him, which is what I have done ever since. On one trip, I had a man tell me that his daughter's doctor told them that they usually don't have problems with their ears until they are around 3. This may be true, my son has not any problems with his ears as of yet. Bring some new little toys to keep your baby entertained, but also favorite books. My son loves to look at the books he knows.

I hope you have a great trip. Let me know if you have any other questions - I would be glad to help!




answers from Las Vegas on

Some babies don't have ear issues on the plane (mine doesn't, and has flown four times), but breastfeeding has always been the key for us, from 2 months to the last time we flew at 18 months. We will be flying again in another month (at 21 months), and that will still be what I use, although it doesn't work quite as well since he sleeps so little and can only nurse for so long now. I do always take my boppy (probably won't this time since he is so big now), for him to nurse and sleep on in my lap, so you might want to take a pillow or something for more comfort for you and him.

I don't know what to tell you about entertainment, we normally just bring a toy or two along and the rest of the time he uses us like a jungle gym or sleeps. Your baby should sleep more than normal, but there will be a lot of awake time as well, make sure you really wear him out before you get on the plane.



answers from Stationed Overseas on

It hasn't been said but be careful if you allow the baby to breastfeed during take-of and landing. Because this will be a new experience for your child he/she might bite down if scared and that could be awful for you. Also if you have a separate seat for the child they will not allow you to have the child in your lap during take-off/landing it must be in it's carseat and they will not allow an exceptions. I have heard of flight attendants also insisting that the child be upright if in your lap as well. I know you said the baby won't take a pacifier but how about if it is dipped in sugar water? My pediatrician told us to try this the first time we flew with our child.



answers from St. Louis on

Another mom just posted an article concerning infants on airplanes. You really should read it.
When traveling, we often don't think of the "what ifs".
Any person on an airplane, adult or infant should be secured in a seat. If there is sudden turbulence or the airplane drops altitude quickly, your infant could be seriously injured or worse.
With that being said, I would make sure the car seat is approved for airplanes and bring toys that attach to the car set handle. Bring a favorite blanket or toy. When the plane is taking off or landing, and as it reaches the correct altitude, try to distract your little one. Make funny faces, sing, tickle his toes . . . .. try to distract before the discomfort starts.
And, don't get upset. There is usually always one person on the plane who can't stand to hear a baby cry. Ignore them and enjoy your flight.



answers from Los Angeles on

Will he suck on your finger or a washcloth? It's the sucking/chewing action that you need for them to "pop" their ears in different altitudes. If he's on solid fodd, you could give him one of those mesh things you put fruit into that they "chew" on, they sell it at babies r us! good luck.



answers from Los Angeles on

My advice is always buy a seat for the baby especially if it's a long ride. I know it's too late for this trip but try to see if there are empty seats so you can get 3 together - you don't want to hold the baby for 12 hours. Aside from drinking, I would give my son some benedryl before the plane ride and that helped his ears. He had more ear trouble during landing. Taking off didn't bother him. I also always take a portable DVD player with me with lots of movies/videos and a back up battery. Plus favorite blanket and toys and books and snacks. At that age my son would fall asleep as soon as the plane took off and sleep for 2 - 3 hours. Hopefully your son will sleep a good part of the time then feed him, play some videos and hope he's content until you land.

Hope this helps. Good luck!


answers from Las Vegas on

To help his ears, we took along a bunch of lollipops when we flew with our then-12-month-old. A pharmacist had suggested it, and it worked great! We used Dum-Dums, since they're small and come in lots of different flavors. Since he basically never gets lollipops other than when he has a haircut, they were very new to him, and he was thrilled by them.

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