Baby on Board

Friday, March 19, 2010

I recently read this article about flying on an airplane with babies. I found it rather timely since we are approaching this milestone for Matilda soon - we're flying to Nashville for Easter!
Now, I know that most people in daily life smile when they see a baby. But, when you get on a plane, you are essentially taking residence on another planet for the time being. A planet in which babies are the equivalent to hostile alien lifeforms. People who would usually "ooh" and "ahh" and ask you "how old?" or "what's her name?" now glare at you with menacing looks of fear and disgust. They will give you a sympathetic nod at best, as if you recently fell victim to a terminal disease of noise and inconvenience. It's true - no matter how cute your bundle of joy may be - she is an unwanted passenger on the flight to anywhere.
What's a parent to do?
It's certainly not a fair fight. We've all been on a flight that has had a crying baby. I've even been on a flight with a throwing-up baby (worse). In the rather anti-baby article, they offer a series of advice that is supposed to help:

Tips for parents with babies

• If a baby reacts to the changing cabin pressure, give it something to suck on -- a bottle or a pacifier, for example -- when the plane is taking off or making its initial descent, Shu said.

• If you can afford it, always buy a seat for your infant, instead of holding the baby on your lap, Shu advised. It's safer, and you'll have more room to maneuver, she said.

• Beware of trying to sedate a baby with over-the-counter children's medications. "People will try things to make babies sleep, like Benadryl or decongestants to help with the ears. In general, those medicines aren't recommended for kids under 2 years old," Shu said.

• Be prepared. Bring everything you need to keep a baby content, including toys and changes of clothing, and be ready to rock your child or walk around the plane with them if they cry, Bartell said.

• Always make an effort to quiet a crying baby. "If other people see you trying, even if you're not succeeding, they will feel at least you're ... doing your best to stop it. And they'll have some sympathy for you," Bartell said.

I appreciate the tips - many of which have been handed down to me from other parents and our pediatrician. The article puts much emphasis on the importance of good parenting and the resposibility of the parent to make sure their child's behavior "does not adversely affect" the people around them.
Okay. I mean, I get it. I've been "those people" up until now and no - it isn't fun to sit next to a screaming child or a kid kicking your seat. And, yes, often times the parents of the children could be a bit more attentive. However - for the parents out there who are simply doing their absolute best and their kids are not misbehaving but simply being kids...where's the compassion??? Instead of making it alright to let people turn their noses up at the parents - could we not encourage a call to action? A call to kindness and concern?
In other words - give me a break!
I remember when that poor little baby threw up on that flight I was one was more embarrassed than that mother. My heart truly broke for her, even if I was trying to retain my gag reflex at the same time. Some things are simply unpredictable.
I will do all I can to keep Matilda calm and happy - but sometimes that includes letting her "talk" (happy squawking) and "razz" her little lips (making lovely, spitty/tooty noises). Not to mention the occasional whafting of unpleasant odors my darling one can express. I'm not saying it goes without consideration for others - but I'm not making any exceptional apologies for bringing my baby with me on a flight.
So, look out Southwest Fliers from LAX to Nashville...there will be a baby on board. You can't say I didn't warn you.

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