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How to Keep a Child's Ears From Popping When on a Plane

author image Elizabeth Hartsock
Elizabeth Hartsock started writing professionally in 2010. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and a nationally certified Schwinn indoor-cycling instructor. Her articles appear on various websites. Hartsock earned a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Florida and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from St. Petersburg College.
How to Keep a Child's Ears From Popping When on a Plane
Ear popping is a common problem parents face when flying with children. Photo Credit: Image Source/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Traveling with children presents unique challenges, and preventing your youngster’s ears from popping while on an airplane is one. Pressure changes in the cabin while the plane ascends and descends causes ear pain; once a steady altitude is maintained, the likelihood of ear popping decreases. You can use a variety of techniques to prevent and treat ear popping in your child while flying.

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Step 1

See your doctor before flying if your child has a cold. Treating a cold with cold medicine or other prescribed courses before flight is best, because congestion in the upper respiratory system can make ear pain worse during pressure changes in the cabin.

Step 2

Offer a pacifier to a small child as the flight takes off and allow her to use it for the duration. The sucking mechanism relieves pressure of the inner ear, preventing popping. For an older child, hard candy also works well.

Step 3

Have your child chew gum. The movement of the jaw while chewing releases pent up pressure in the inner ear. This technique can also be used to relieve inner ear pain once it has begun. This is recommended only for an older child or adult; accidentally swallowing gum can be a hazard for a small child.


Step 1

Have your child try a pacifier, hard candy or gum to alleviate discomfort once ear popping begins.

Step 2

Attempt to release the pressure through steam treatment. Place a hot towel inside a cup and place it over the child's ears, one at a time. This can release the pressure in the ear through temperature changes in the gases. Ask a fight attendant for the hot towel.

Step 3

Have your child drink something, which can relieve pressure in the inner ear. Breastfeeding a baby can often do the trick as well.

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