Flying With a Congested Baby
Traveling with a baby can be trying, but taking a baby with you during air travel is a whole other thing. You are traveling with a tiny person whose natural reaction to hunger, wetness or general discomfort is to scream and cry as loudly as possible. This is fine in your car or at home, but now you are in a giant airplane filled with strangers all of whom are looking at you and expecting you to make the noise stop. Happily for them, you can.
Signs of Congestion
When a baby has a congested nose, it typically means that the nose's blood vessels in the nasal tissues are inflamed and have swelled. Newborns breathe through the nose and congestion can not only cause discomfort, but problems with sleeping and nursing. Visiting your pediatrician prior to the flight is recommended, especially if the baby has a cough or has been congested for longer than a week.
Preparing for the Flight
Parents and caregivers must be prepared when flying with a baby, and that is especially true when flying with a congested baby. If you believe your child is suffering from a common cold, include over-the-counter medication in your carry-on bag. Keep your diaper bag accessible under the seat in front of you.
If seated near strangers, introduce yourself and your baby to the fellow passengers, explaining that their congestion may result in crying during parts of the flight. Taking the time to apologize before takeoff might make the flight easier for everyone and allow them to prepare for any noises that come with air pressure changes.
It may even be helpful to consult your child’s pediatrics doctor for medical advice, which might help you relieve pain from your child’s ears and sinus when the cabin pressure increases.
Dealing With Cabin Air Pressure
Dealing with pressure changes can become worse when congested. Adults can alleviate the pressure by yawning or chewing gum, but these aren't options for babies. Doing a bottle feeding or nursing when the plane takes off or lands can help your child feel more comfortable. If the baby is older and has started chewing food, providing age-appropriate crackers or teething biscuits will encourage jaw movement, helping to unplug baby's eardrums. Children don’t understand that the ear pain is temporary, so soothing their ear pressure pain may prove difficult.
Keeping Calm and Comfortable
Whether you're flying with other children or another adult, you need a plan of attack for your flight with the baby. First, make the baby comfortable. If buying a separate seat for the baby, install either your car seat or a safety device with a harness. Either choice must be a Federal Aviation Administration-approved child restraint system. If the baby is flying on your lap, consider using a baby sling or baby carrier. Either choice would keep baby close to you while keeping your hands free. Second, plan on feeding the baby when the plane is taking off and landing. Third, try to relax. If you're jittery, chances are baby will be too. Keep baby calm and happy so everyone else can be.