The first time I flew with my baby I was a first time mother and my son was just five months old. He was a pretty happy baby in our normal lives and I wrongly assumed he’d behave on the flight as he always behaved.
Calm. Affable. Cooperative. Cute. Giggly. Gurgly. Playful.
He started off well on that flight, delighting in playing on my lap…until it was time to strap him onto my seatbelt with his special baby extention seatbelt. He started to grizzle and I tensed up, preparing myself for a rough few minutes. But that was nothing compared to what would happen next.
When the plane headed for the runway and then sped up for takeoff, the engine roared and he lost it.
What followed was 45 minutes of him crying, me eventually joining in as any and all attempts to shut him up failed miserably and he fed off my tension and I off his.
Olympic skiier and gold medalist Lydia Lassila talks about how to travel with a baby on Mamamia podcast I Don’t Know How She Does It.
I could feel the disapproval of other passengers on that flight, not daring to make eye contact in case I properly registered their judgement. I did think I’d try to never fly with a baby again. It took another couple of flights, two more children, and the wisdom that comes with getting older for me to realise I had nothing to apologise for and neither does any other mother.
That’s why, like many parents, I am uncomfortable with this new trend of mums with babies handing out apology notes, lollies and ear plugs on flights. As Cassie Murdoch from Mashable writes, “The cumulative effect, though, of these goody bags sweeping the feel-good internet is to build in the unrealistic expectation that the next time you board a plane and see someone holding a baby that person owes you a preemptive apology in the form of Tootsie Rolls.”
The post she was refering to in particular was this one, posted by Reddit user Fe Mike, shared with the caption, “Lady on the airplane just handed this to all of the rows around us. She now has an entire team of passengers ready to help.”