Babes on Planes

By Toronto Nutritionist, Theresa Albert

A mother is subject to public scrutiny each and every time she steps out the front door with her little one(s) but never so much as on an airplane.  I sat sandwiched between two mothers handling babies of about the same age in two different ways and kept my mouth shut (as suggested by my own 13 year old who said “mom, the worst thing you could do is tell another parent how to parent! Pretty smart kid.) But oh, how I wanted to help.

The two things you need to know about flying with little ones are the left ear and the right ear. The cabin pressure can be excruciating until children learn how to clear the pressure that we do naturally on ascent and descent. But you can help!

Sucking is your primary defense so save the breast or bottle ready for those crucial moments.  Feed lightly before and during the flight to make sure that they are ready to suck when the pilot says “we are starting our descent.”

What not to do is what I saw in the seat in front of me. A child about 8 months old being bottle fed throughout the flight who screamed the entire descent while her father jollied her along with a candy sucker. You do not want a child associating pain or discomfort with the stimulating effects of green food coloring and high fructose corn syrup. You may get through the moment but think about the lifetime impact of: ouch, candy, mmm, better!

A wee bit of planning goes a long way on the plane and if the sucking doesn’t work, here is your back up plan... Ask for two empty coffee cups into which you will stuff two very warm wads of paper towel. Cover both ears with these to regulate the pressure; make a game out of it if you have to. The warmth is soothing and keeping the pressure on the cups keeps the pressure on the ear drums stable until the plane lands.

Bringing along your own healthy snacks to save time, money, salt bloat and sugar highs which can all contribute to a cranky kid even without the airplane. Here is a snack recipe for kids over one year of age. Think about baking sweet potato muffins , full of healthy foods, fibre and are really tasty. Not to mention the fact that breaking off bits can be a happily distracting 3 minute activity!


About the Author:

Theresa Albert Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a nutritionist and food communications consultant. Her Food Network show,Just One Bite! aired for 5 years on both Food Network and BBC Kids. She is currently a trusted on-camera correspondent for CTV Newschannel as well as CBC and regular health expert on the daily lifestyle show, Steven and Chris which airs internationally.

Named one of Canada’s Top 25 Tweeters by Today’s Parent Magazine and one of’s 35 Favorite Bloggers, she is called for comment from every major magazine, newspaper and television outlet in Canada. She has a weekly column in the Metro Newspaper and regularly writes features for Today’s Parent, Canadian Family Magazine and blogs at Huffington Post.

Picture of Theresa Albert

Author: Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is an on-camera food and health expert, nutritionist and writer who loves to spread the word on food. She is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. Tweet with her at @theresaalbert & find her daily at

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