There can be a number of reasons why babies cry on a plane, but a lot of the time it is down to the change in air pressure in the cabin that causes pain in their ears.
Babies have more sensitive ears than adults, and their Eustachian tube doesn’t function as well as an adult’s, which is why you’ve probably noticed babies crying more during taking off and landing when changes in air pressure are greater.
To help prevent this, a pair of ear muffs for babies are a must, such as the Alpine Muffy Baby Ear Protection, that are the only CE-certified baby ear muffs on the market, which means that they meet the legal requirements for safety, health, and the environment in the USA and European Union.
If the ear muffs don’t do the trick, there are a few other things you can do if your baby starts to cry on the plane.
Table of Contents
- 1 10 Foolproof Ways to Stop Your Baby From Crying on the Plane
- 1.1 1. Determine How Your Baby Sleeps Best
- 1.2 2. Figure Out Why Your Baby is Crying
- 1.3 3. Breastfeed or Bottle-feed
- 1.4 4. Console Your Baby
- 1.5 5. Bring an Extra Layer of Clothes
- 1.6 6. Try Not to Change Their Nap Schedules
- 1.7 7. Provide a Distraction
- 1.8 8. Sit at the Back of the Plane
- 1.9 9. Select the Right Seat
- 1.10 10. Avoid Red-Eye Flights
- 2 How Flight Attendants Handle Crying Babies
- 3 Should You Sedate a Crying Baby?
- 4 You Can Be Kicked Off the Plane for a Crying Baby
10 Foolproof Ways to Stop Your Baby From Crying on the Plane
1. Determine How Your Baby Sleeps Best
To increase the chances of your baby sleeping, make a note of how they usually sleep.
Do they sleep best when in a car seat, or when they are in their baby carrier and snuggled up against you?
If they sleep best in a car seat, then bring your travel-friendly car seat onboard the plane. If it’s the latter, then wear your baby in a carrier (except during takeoff and landing, of course).
2. Figure Out Why Your Baby is Crying
When your baby is crying, it typically means that they want something, which is usually due to thirst, hunger, or their diaper needs changing.
So, do your best to take care of their basic needs before, at the beginning, and throughout the flight.
3. Breastfeed or Bottle-feed
During take off and landing, breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby can help relieve the painful sensation in their ears due to the sucking and swallowing motions.
Make sure you bring baby formula with you, which is allowed on planes in greater quantities than 3.4oz/100ml – i.e. the 3-1-1 doesn’t apply.
4. Console Your Baby
When your baby starts to cry, getting out of your seat and walking up and down the aisle with them may help calm them down.
5. Bring an Extra Layer of Clothes
If you’ve ever flown before, you know just how cold planes can be.
Babies are more sensitive to temperature changes than adults, so wrapping your baby in an extra layer of clothing can sometimes help them stop crying.
6. Try Not to Change Their Nap Schedules
It’s common for parents to change their baby’s nap schedule when they fly due to the nature of travel.
If possible, it’s best to try and book a fight that is aligned with your baby’s schedule to make them more comfortable in flight.
7. Provide a Distraction
A distraction in the form of a toy, rattle, TV show, or bouncing your baby on your lap can provide a necessary distraction that can help calm them down.
8. Sit at the Back of the Plane
If you’re flying with a baby, sitting at the back of the plane can be a great idea for several
- It is near the galley, making it easier to get up and walk around
- It is near the bathroom
- It offers more privacy
- The food cart starts from the back, so you won’t be stuck if you need to get up
Seats are more likely to be empty at the back of the plane, and it is louder back there too, which can mask your baby’s cries and screams.
9. Select the Right Seat
Siting at the back of a plane can be a great option, but so can sitting in the bulkhead, for a number of reasons.
- Leaves more room for a diaper bag
- Makes it easier to pass your baby to your partner/caretakers
- Gives your better access to flight attendants
- Lets you get off the plane more quickly
10. Avoid Red-Eye Flights
If you’re particularly nervous about your baby crying on the plane, you might want to avoid red-eye flights, which are flights that take off late at night and land early the next morning.
When you’re on a red-flight, your fellow passengers are likely going to want to sleep, so knowing this can make you more nervous about flying with your baby.
How Flight Attendants Handle Crying Babies
While fight attendants will mostly depend on the parents to calm crying babies, they may be able to assist you.
A flight attendant could bring toys or other things to help keep a baby distracted, change the parent’s seats, provide nearby passengers with earplugs, and ask passengers to remain calm if a baby is crying excessively and passengers are starting to get frustrated.
Should You Sedate a Crying Baby?
According to the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Daniel Frattarelli, it can be life-threatening to sedate a baby:
When using Benadryl to sedate, you are using it for its side effects rather than its therapeutic effect. It can be dangerous—especially in children under 2. Kids have died from this.”
Melatonin isn’t a sedative but acts like one, and can be used in small doses (under 0.5 mg) for children under the age of 3.
You Can Be Kicked Off the Plane for a Crying Baby
It is very rare to get kicked off a plane for a crying baby, but it has happened before.
This reportedly happened to Canadian musician, Sarah Blackwood, who was removed from a United Airlines flight with her two-year-old son, who was loudly crying and running back and forth on the plane.
As long as you take steps to prevent your baby from crying, which Sarah didn’t do, you are unlikely to run into any issues.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).