It’s unlikely flying will cause ear damage, but babies are very susceptible to ear pain while flying. Young babies have not developed the ability to regularize their ear pressure by yawning or swallowing, so they don’t know how to relieve the abrupt changes in pressure when the plane is taking off or landing. To prevent ear pain and discomfort, babies should wear ear protection whenever they’re travelling on a plane.
Children's Flying Ear Plugs & Ear Muffs
If you’ve ever wondered why babies are fussy on planes, it’s because they’re dealing with an unfamiliar feeling: ear pressure. Here, we break down the best ear protection options to keep babies and young children safe and comfortable while they’re flying.
How do I protect my baby’s ears when flying?
There are a few ear protection options that are specifically designed for infants and children. At Earjobs, we strongly recommend products with a SLC80 rating or above, which cut down noise by half.
- Ear muffs. These are the best children’s flight ear plugs because they are easy to wear and remove, and they’re not a choking hazard. Some earmuffs are equipped with a headband that goes around the head to keep them secure even when the child crawls or rolls on the floor. Earjobs has a collection of noise-cancelling earmuffs which also offer protection from sudden sound spikes that can frighten a young baby, like flight announcements.
- Pressure relief ear plugs. These are designed to help the ear adjust to sudden air pressure changes, so they’re ideal for take-offs and landings. However, they’re best suited to toddlers and older children, as they present a choking hazard to young babies.
- Regular ear plugs. Mouldable wax and silicone baby ear plugs for flying can be worn by infants as well as older children. They’re good for reducing noise, but they’re not very effective for pressure protection. Their pliable form allows them to fit into smaller ear canals, and mouldable silicone are also reusable — just be sure to rinse them with mild soap and water and store them in a cool, dry place. To remove, gently twist the ear plug, then pull outwards.
It is important to note that cotton balls are not sufficient ear protection for children. Cotton is a choking hazard for young babies, and there’s the risk that bits of cotton can be left in the ear canal, causing more pain or discomfort.
At what age is it safe for babies to fly?
Some airlines will allow babies as young as two days old to fly. But many airlines will require a letter from a doctor on the suitability to fly if the baby is less than two weeks old. A baby with a cough, cold or ear infection should avoid flying because the air pressure pain will be worse.