our everyday life

How to Keep Babies From Crying on Planes

by Shelley Frost, studioD

A crying baby on a plane is a fast way to alienate your fellow passengers and frazzle your own nerves. Keeping your little traveler quiet starts long before the plane speeds down the runway. Everything from your seat selection and flight timing to your packing list affects how well your infant tolerates the trip. The airplane's small space limits your options when it comes to entertaining and caring for your baby. If your family is ready to fly, simple strategies can help keep your baby content -- and increase your odds for a quiet flight.

Schedule the flight during a time when your baby is usually content or sleepy. Some babies sleep on the plane, but don't count on your little one drifting to sleep before takeoff. If he sleeps well in his car seat, consider booking a seat for him and bringing the car seat along in hopes that he'll sleep through the flight. The other option is to choose a flight during his alert and content time in hopes that he will stay quiet through the flight.

Reserve an aisle seat for yourself so you can make a quick escape from your seat without bugging a fellow passenger. Being able to get out of the seat easily allows you to move around with your baby.

Pack the essentials, like diapers, wipes, snacks, breast milk or formula, a change of clothes, blankets and a pacifier, in the carry-on bag. Include different types of clothing for layering in case your baby gets too hot or too cold. Bring along a few new toys to keep your baby's interest. Pack board books, teething toys and other favorite items that keep your little one busy. Use a bag with compartments to keep the gear organized and easy to find.

Arrive at the airport early so you aren't rushed to get through security. Take your time getting to the gate. A relaxed journey to your destination might help your baby stay calm so he doesn't cry throughout the adventure.

Make your baby comfortable before you board the plane. Change his diaper in the airport where you'll have more room. A wet diaper or hunger will make your baby crabby and likely to cry on the plane if you don't take care of the issues.

Send your flying partner -- if you have one -- on the plane first to get all the gear situated. This buys you extra time in the airport where your baby won't feel so contained. Give him a chance to toddler around if he is mobile. Board the plane on the last call so your baby won't spend as much time waiting around for takeoff. If you're flying alone, ask if an airline employee can put the car seat in place for you.

Offer your baby something on which he can suck as the plane prepares for takeoff. A bottle or pacifier works well for infants. The sudden pressure change affects the pressure inside the ears, causing uncomfortable side effects. Your hearing often sounds muted or you feel pain in your ears. According to the KidsHealth website, the small size of a baby's eustachian tubes makes it more difficult for the ears to adjust to the pressure difference. The sucking and swallowing action helps the eustachian tubes open to equalize the pressure.

Play with your baby if he is awake during the flight. Talk or sing to your little one to soothe him. Offer the toys and books one at a time. When he gets bored with one item, hand him another.

Change your little one's scenery if he becomes irritated. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, your baby is safest in an approved child restraint system during turbulence and emergency situations, but being stuck in his car seat can make your baby cry. If the fasten seatbelt sign is off and there is no turbulence, unstrap your baby so he can move around more. Walking up and down the aisles can help soothe him and give him a new view of the plane. Always keep your baby's safety as the priority. A screaming baby strapped in his car seat is better than an injured baby if the plane is experiencing turbulence.

Check on your baby's basic needs if he nears crying. Offer him a bottle, change his diaper or change his clothing to adjust his temperature.

Items you will need
  •  Diapers
  •  Wipes
  •  Snacks
  •  Breast milk
  •  Formula
  •  Clothes
  •  Blankets
  •  Pacifier
  •  Carry-on bag
  •  Board books
  •  Teething toys
  •  Car seat


  • Even with your efforts, your baby might cry on the flight. Do your best to soothe him while apologizing to nearby passengers. The other passengers might be more tolerant of the crying if they know how bad you feel.

About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience come from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images