Nursing helps baby’s ears adjust to altitude changes

September 28, 2010

One of my favorite new mommies is planning a trip and we were chatting about tips for babies on flights and it reminded me of one of the best tips I’d received, that nursing your baby on an airplane can prevent a little one’s ears from hurting.

Because Connor is under 2 years old and because he doesn’t yet have his own seat, each time we fly the flight attendants remind us of the safety rules – He has to be held for take off and landing, the seat belt is to only be worn by me and that in the event it is required, I am to put my oxygen mask on first and then put Connor’s on him. (There is an extra mask in each row).
The easiest way to describe the right position for holding baby is to think of how you hold them when you are going to burp them - with them looking over your shoulder. This allows you to use both your arms to hold on to baby securely. Once the seat belt sign is off, you can hold them however you want to.  On one of Connor’s first flights, the flight attendant, also a mom, gave me this tip, if you are nursing (and I was) use it to help your baby deal with “blocked” ears.
I always hold Connor in the burping position for take off and landing as per safety regulations (his safety is of course my number one concern and I wouldn’t want his little head to get bumped if there was turbulence during the ascent or descent) but when he was little I would try to get him to nurse as soon as possible.  I’ve had great success with this and I am grateful for this advice. It should be noted that because you can’t nurse during take-off or landing a pacifier/soother can also help because it’s the sucking motion that helps keeps your ears unblocked. More often than not, Connor would usually nurse and fall asleep!
If you are nursing, then I recommend clothing that you can easily nurse in. I’ve used nursing covers, but Connor didn’t like to be “hidden” so instead I found it easier if I had clothing that worked for me. As such I have become a huge fan of clothing designed for nursing like the kind by BOOB. It’s discreet and easy to use; and it’s stylish! Happy baby and happy mommy makes for a good travel team!

Return to News & Blog