I think most people have experienced the stress of having a crying baby on board during a flight. The unfortunate mother in the following story did not receive the sympathy or support she really needed. Read New Baby 101’s tips for parents travelling with bubs which may avoid a miserable flight for everyone.
Flying with a baby can be a challenging experience, especially if baby becomes upset by the loud noises and the discomfort of changes in air pressure during take-off and descending in preparation for landing. The discomfort and pain is caused by pressure changes between the outer ear and the middle ear which are separated by the tympanic membrane or ear drum.
SUCK, SUCK, SUCK Cabin pressure changes are unavoidable, however having baby sucking, eating, drinking or chewing will assist with reducing pressure build up in baby’s ears. So – having baby suckling at the breast, or feeding from a bottle and teat, or sucking a dummy are parents’ first-line strategies to help baby to adapt. Encourage baby to suck during take-off and when preparing for descent. If baby has a dummy make sure you have one planted in every one of your pockets, as the chance of losing the first one is high in the confined spaces of an aeroplane cabin. A sippy cup with a straw can be used for older babies. Take plenty of snacks for older babies who are eating solids, even a lolly pop as a special treat and distraction.
TIMING To increase the chances of a peaceful flight consider the timing of the flight. Try to have departures on evening or night flights which increase the possibility of baby sleeping. Likewise, avoid the time of day that is usually your baby’s unsettled period, maybe 4-8pm? It’s very likely to be worse in a confined noisy environment like a plane.
PACKING Pack LOTS more food and clothing than you think you need in carry-on luggage in case of delays. A spare top for yourself is a good addition in case the worst happens and baby vomits on you. A cloth sling will be handy if you need to walk bub up and down the aisle to settle him. Screen based games are big winners on planes for older babies, especially if used with earphones so other passengers aren’t annoyed by sound effects.
AIRLINES Bassinets are available on some planes in a few seating locations but you need to pre-book them so inquire with your airline. If you pay for an extra seat you can take your child safety seat – again you need pre-approval from the airline and to show it to check-in staff. Various airlines have different restrictions on volumes of fluids allowed to be brought on board, but baby products which are allowed are pre-made formula, breast milk, sterilised water, baby food in liquid, gel or paste form, and juice.
EAR PLUGS Specially made earplugs for babies are available and reports of their effectiveness vary, but they are worth a try. And while you’re at the store, buy some adult size earplugs to hand to other passengers as a peace offering if your best efforts to fly happily fall in a heap. Rescue Remedy for you and baby might be a handy purchase too.