Parents Perspective

Flying With a Baby: Why All the Hate?

Mom and Baby on an Airplane

My oldest son was just a 2-month-old baby when he went on his first flight, from New York to Minnesota, and not quite 4 months old when I flew with him, solo, from New York to California. Both times I nursed him on demand, and both times he remained pretty much quiet and content. No, I didn't use Benadryl. Yes, I thanked my lucky stars—not to mention the kind Jet Blue flight attendant who kept an eye on him while I dashed to the bathroom.

Eight years later, my son and his 3-year-old brother are both good travelers. (Let me pause from typing for a moment to knock on wood.) But few topics bring out the Internet trolls more than kids—specifically, babies—on planes. Just two weeks ago we wrote about three women who came to blows over a crying baby on an Air China flight. And more than one story about parents giving out "goody bags" to fellow passengers has gone viral in recent years.

Let me just say I'm not a goody bag fan (unless it's this version)—which is why I was intrigued by this recent blog post arguing against the practice by Today Parents Senior Editor Rebecca Dube. In her piece, "Why you shouldn't give out goody bags while flying with a baby," Dube writes,

Babies are babies, and sometimes they cry. Everyone needs to just accept that reality and get over it.

No offense to these new parents, who are almost certainly lovely people. They did a nice thing and made people smile. But they're part of a dangerous trend: People apologizing, or being made to feel they should apologize, for having children.

The mom of two continued: "I'd be thrilled if someone gave me a bag of treats. I'm not one to turn down free candy. But we're at a weird cultural place in America now where some parents are so entitled and clueless they do things like letting their young children poop in the middle of a restaurant, while other parents are so scared of offending anyone that they go around apologizing for normal kid behavior. Surely, there's a middle ground here called common sense."

Hear, hear! Finally, I thought, a fellow mom speaks my truth! I didn't get ear plugs from the two college kids who very loudly discussed their semesters overseas during my entire (and I mean entire) two-hour flight home this past holiday season. Nor did I get so much as a gummy bear from the woman sitting in my row who had her dog on the seat between us. (And no, it wasn't a service animal.) What if the dog barked?! I might be inconvenienced! The fact is, this is a great big world, and we're not always going to be happy with everyone in it, but you don't deserve candy (or ear plugs) from someone just because they or their kids might disturb your zen.

In fact, I think that's one of the things that bugs me most about the goody bag trend. It's not a thoughtful gesture by beleagured parents whose baby bawled for most of a long flight; it's a preemptive bribe just in case their wee one makes a squawk. Not to mention, where does the gift-giving begin and end? It's not like a crying baby in row 4 can't be heard in row 12, after all. Goody bags for the entire plane, then?

Still, the comments to Dube's blog post—nearly 300 of them—were overwhelmingly negative. Choice snippets: "this article is wrong on so many levels," "YOU are an entitled jerk," "Your article is pathetic, and so are you," and countless versions of this: "Drive, take the train or STAY HOME if your brat isn't old enough to behave in public." (That's so much better, right? Because no one would be stuck on a moving train with a crying baby...)

Frankly, I'm shocked that so many people think babies have no place on airplanes—at all. And that parents who want, or need, to travel should drive or take a train. No, I'm not going to stick up for entitled parents who think the world should revolve around their kids, and who don't do anything to soothe and/or entertain their babies and kids on planes. But I also can't stand the haters who think they're entitled to a completely silent flight and who think that babies should be seen and never heard. Please, can't we all just get along? Especially when we're traveling at 32,000 feet?

Tell us: Do you think babies belong on planes? And are you a fan of goody bags for air passengers?

Erika Rasmusson Janes is a senior editor at Parents.com and the mom of two rambunctious boys. She'll apologize profusely if her 3-year-old kicks the back of your seat. Follow her on Twitter.

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Image of mom and baby on a plane: Shutterstock