FLYING with a baby can be a stressful experience, especially for a first time parent, but sometimes trips cannot be avoided.
Midwife and lactation consultant Lois Wattis agrees that flying with baby can be a challenging experience.
“Especially if baby becomes upset by loud noises and the discomfort of changes in air pressure during take-off and descending in preparation for landing,” she said.
“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.”
With this in mind, here are her top five tips for mothers flying with babies.
SUCK, SUCK, SUCK
Cabin pressure changes are unavoidable – having baby sucking, eating, drinking or chewing will assist with reducing any pressure build up in baby’s ears.
Having baby suckling at the breast, or feeding from a bottle, or sucking a dummy can help them adapt.
Encourage baby to suck during take-off and when preparing for descent.
If baby takes a dummy, make sure there is one planted in every pocket, as the chance of losing a dummy is high in the confined spaces of an aeroplane cabin.
A cup with a straw can be used for older babies.
Take plenty of snacks for babies who are eating solids; even a lollipop as a special treat and distraction.
To increase the chances of a peaceful flight, consider the timing of the flight.
Try flying out at night, which increases the possibility of baby sleeping.
Avoid the time of day that is usually your baby’s unsettled period.
They are likely to be worse in a confined, noisy environment like a plane.
Pack 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 baby is sick on you.
A cloth sling can come in handy if you need to walk baby up and down the aisle to settle them.
Screen based games are big winners on planes for older babies, especially if used with earphones so other passengers are not annoyed by sound effects.
Bassinets are available on some planes in a few seating locations, but they need to be pre-booked, so inquire with your airline.
If you pay for an extra seat you can take your child a 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.
Specially made earplugs for babies are available.
Reports of their effectiveness vary, but they are worth a try.
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.
Midwife and lactation consultant Lois Wattis has resources for new parents, including her Baby 101 Book, apps and videos here.