Flying With Babies, For Those Of You Sitting Near A Crying Baby……Deal With It!

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15/05/2008 – Flying With Babies, For Those Of You Sitting Near A Crying Baby……Deal With It!

As I sit on my early morning Southwest Airlines flight from Providence (PVD) to Baltimore (BWI) I am inspired to write this while listening to a screaming baby slowly calming down and (hopefully) falling asleep. I can see this little boy’s face red and puffing, he’s been upset since the aircraft door closed; his discomfort grew as we accelerated down the runway and went into full-blown uncontrollable screaming a few seconds after our Boeing 737-700 went wheels up. What catches my attention really is not that the front of his Lightning McQueen shirt looks damp from his tears, but that there are dozens of adult passengers looking at the parents of this child with an intense sense of distain, a look of fueled anger………but why?

We all know that babies do what they do when they want to do it. The baby is not seeking to anger the roughly 130 people on this flight, however babies don’t know how to deal with the air pressure and the pain it causes. We’ve all had our ears pop and it hurts, now try and remember what it was like to be a little baby and unable to express your discomfort, your natural reaction was to cry. Ever flown with a mild sinus infection? Do you know the pain that causes an adult? Now be a baby and deal with this massive head pressure pain.

I am sure every single adult on this plane cried so loud at some point in their life that they nearly cleared out a plane/train/bus/movie theater/restaurant/grocery store. Outside of this pressurized metal tube, flying at 500+ mph (800+ kph) at 30,000 feet, you can pick up your screaming child and rock them to comfort them. In most situations you can pick your child up and walk outside, but let’s be real here, we’re sitting in a plane with the fasten seat-belt sign on, somewhere around 30,000 feet flying out over the Atlantic Ocean, crossing Long Island Sound, then back over the Atlantic Ocean. Where do these angry adults expect the parents to take this upset child?

If you’re on a plane and a baby is screaming I understand being frustrated. Before you start giving the ‘death stare’ towards the upset baby and the parents think about this…….. Don’t you think the parents are more frustrated? Don’t you think the parents are trying to calm the baby down? Don’t you think if the parents could comfort the baby they would? Can you envision being in their place knowing that you have a planeload of passengers all staring at you in anger?

If the sounds of a baby on a plane bother you, and understandably they are irritating to listen to, go out and buy yourself a pair of decent noise canceling headsets. If the baby gets louder just adjust the volume on your iPod. Having distain for the baby and the parents gets you no where.

So my advice for all of you flyers out there when you hear a crying baby is this……DEAL WITH IT!

Happy Flying……….and I’m watching the little guy sitting in seat 8F on his Dad’s shoulder doze off, so hopefully he’ll sleep through our arrival at BWI in 20 minutes.



  1. Good post! I’ve thought about this a lot. I don’t have children, I’m way past the age when I could even conceive children. But even so, I can totally understand the crying baby. Yes, it’s annoying when the scream pierce your ears and all you want is to have some peace and quiet. But I also know how uncomfortable it is to have a sinus infection (or just even a stuffed nose) while flying, and as children have very small tubes in their ears, they will suffer much more than we adults do.

    There’s a few “tricks” that parents can do, like use nose spray to take any swelling down for the child. But to be honest, why medicate a child just to give other adults peace and quiet on a plane? Why medicate an otherwise healthy child? I wouldn’t like that idea either as a parent.

    So yeah, deal with it! Just be glad it’s not your sinuses or ears that are hurting, or that you’re the parent with the child!

  2. Good, timely post. My sis-in-law just flew from Boston to Chennai, with twins (they are about four months old). So, I was dreading the trip … for them.

    “Don’t you think the parents are more frustrated? Don’t you think the parents are trying to calm the baby down? Don’t you think if the parents could comfort the baby they would?”

    On a similar trip to India, my wife and I flew with our son (then a little over a year old) and while he did fine on the trip, there was a couple who had parked (nay, strapped down) their bawling child right by the bulkhead where we were seated and they could care less that their kid was about loose a vocal chord or two. I offered to help with some medicine (ok, ok, we had with our doctor’s consent carried a little Benadryl for kids to give ours if he acted up), but I was rebuffed and left to “deal with it.”

    Bose is about to get a pay raise thanks to your post. Noise canceling headphones … indeed!

  3. All in all, I would much rather sit beside the baby than the three drunk guys in the seat behind me last time I flew out of Las Vegas. I never thanked Bose properly for those Noise-canceling headphones. They were worth every penny.

  4. Amen! I’ve been flying since I was 6 months old (so 24 years now) and I can’t imagine how my parents dealt with us when we were still little and flying back and forth between the States and Norway. I’m pretty sure children’s Dramamine was involved, and for good reason! I still hate flying, so I’m pretty sure I was one of “those children”. But honestly, it’s just another reason that travelers should always have earplugs with them. Wise up and deal!

  5. Thank you for your post! We flew at Christmas when my son was 4 months old. Over all he did well, just one short crying spell.

    One thing I would add to your post is that if you are sitting next to the parents of a crying baby don’t ask to hold the baby to comfort him/her, or offer advice during the “fit.” Its one thing to be polite, but it is another to impose your “parental views” onto others, and besides some parents (especially new ones) could take offense to this. On the flight mentioned above there was an older woman who told my wife that she could calm down our son faster than my wife because she had x number of children and grandchildren. As someone who works with children and as a parent, no one knows how to comfort a child better than the child’s parents.

    Keep up the good work with your blog!

  6. I think parents should do a little digging and find out how to handle air pressure when flying with INFANTS. Kids over 2 however are a whole different ballgame. Yesterday I spent one hour listening to a Thomas the Train video, played at the highest volume on the DVD player, while his father slept and his Mother read a book on anatomy, clueless to the rest of the passengers. As soon as the video ended, this 3 year old started screaming to the top of his lungs and kicking his seat bottom and everything around he could hit with feet. My tray table bolted and my drink was thrown into the lap of my seatmate, while my ipod fell to the floor, breaking the earphones in the fall. I thought he was learning disabled, but when we landed, he was talking as a three year old would and now wanted to run up the isles. At least with a drunk, you can buy them another drink, and hope they pass out.

  7. i loved reading this, few days im flying with my 4 month old, last year i had flown with my 3 year old and 8 month old, it wasnt good, both really fussy, i think i cared more about pleasing others then my own kids, this time im just gonna try to not care, nothing i can do!

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