Flying with an infant

We’ve taken baby Maia up for half a dozen flights now and each time we figure out new things. We use 2 forms of hearing protection:

  • Mack’s Kids Size ear plugs – These soft silicone ear plugs are worn over the ear opening, but don’t actually go inside the ear canal like adult ear plugs do. They claim to offer 22dB of noise reduction. To hold them in place, we use the neoprene Ear Band-It (purple band in the pic), around her head.
  • AO Safety Peltor Junior Earmuffs – tiny infant sized earmuffs then go over the top of the Ear Band-It to offer a bit more noise reduction. These are also rated at 22dB.

Maia snoozing at 5 months oldThe combined result provides more than sufficient hearing protection for the relatively loud environment in the plane. She doesn’t seem to mind all the head gear at all. Here’s Maia at 5 months old.

The first couple of flights were troubling and Maia was quite fussy during some of the departures. We’ve found that maintaining shallow climb and descent profiles helps tremendously; maintaining rates of 500 fpm or less allows for trouble free altitude changes of 10K ft without any tears being shed. It also helps greatly if she is suckling on a bottle or pacifier. Additionally, as obvious as this may sound, don’t forget about all the other basic infant needs — most of the time we had a fussy flight, it could be traced to something simple like a pooey diaper.

One nice thing about air travel is once leveled off at sufficient altitude, we don’t have any hesitation (or legal issue) about taking her out of the restraints while in smooth air. That helps tremendously on long flights after she awakes from a snooze and wants to play. So far, our longest leg traveled was 3 hours and she took it all in stride. It’s hard to tell, but, I think she does get frustrated not being able to hear our voices. When she’s a bit bigger, we’ll get her a proper headset so she can hear us talking.

If you have any other tips, or found this helpful, please leave a comment.

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