Flying is something that as I get older, I enjoy doing less. When I was younger, it was cool to get peanuts, order a soda, and look out the window. Now I sit in my seat and try and take a nap so it can be over as fast as possible.
There are often things that make nap-taking a little difficult: a bumpy plane, a flight attendant that keeps waking you up, a noisy neighbor, a marching band rehearsing in the row behind you, and babies.
The worst flight I ever had was going from Madrid to the U.S. for Christmas in 2013. For me, the flight was littered with awful characteristics: I had awful food poisoning from eating lomo (comes from a pig), the flight took 2 hours longer than expected, there was non-stop heavy turbulence for 6 hours of the flight, and there was a 6 month old baby next to me who did not stop crying. For. The. Whole. Flight.
Among all of these, what stands out the most? The baby. I can still hear that ear-piercing scream. At least I didn’t lose my hearing.
Now before anyone gets angry, please know that I completely understand flying with babies is a tough thing to do and definitely 1000X more so as a parent. The babies are in a new location. They are uncomfortable. It can be loud and stuffy. The complimentary “Clowns and Chainsaw Act” can be scary. Although a plethora of websites offer advice, I’m not sure there’s any perfect formula to flying with a young child in an uncomfortable location…until now.
Below are some of my patent pending ideas to help parents fly with babies. Some of these techniques I have witnessed personally which makes them even more astonishing.
Take a look and decide which could be the best one for you!
The Stowaway Option
On a flight from China to Australia, I witnessed the following technique.
A family of three were on the row with me: a grandmother, the father, and the baby. The baby began crying when they walked on the plane and didn’t stop. Usually, when a baby cries the parents/grandparents/caretaker/The Undertaker try and be calm, soothing the baby back to a more tranquil state. Babies can sense stress and angst, hence the “baby see, baby do” attempt. What you shouldn’t do, however, is immediately start an argument with your family member on how to deal with the situation. This, of course, made the baby cry even louder and harder. Finally, after about 4 hours of “attempted soothing”, the two gave up and put the child UNDER THE SEAT LIKE A CARRY-ON. Now, this would make sense if…actually it really wouldn’t. The crazy thing was the father had a small bag under the seat which he removed, placed on the armrest between him and the grandmother, and substituted the baby under the seat in front of him. In his defense, he was following airline regulations when they ask you to put the smallest of your carry-on items under the seat in front of you.
The best part about this was a flight attendant came by and said something to them I didn’t understand, but I can probably guess was something along the lines of, “Have you tried not treating your baby like a purse or yelling at each other?”
I am surprised he never kicked the baby, but he left his child under the seat for the next half hour while he tried to watch Guardians of the Galaxy.
Did this work at all? Hell no.
Baby Crying Defense Points: 0/10
This is another instance I witnessed live, although I didn’t see it. This was one you didn’t have to see, you just had to be listening.
On a recent flight from Boston to Portugal, a baby began crying right after the plane took-off. I get it, you’re leaving the land of freedom for a country that recently had of a dictator. It was more of a whimper (like the I’m tired cry or the I’m hungry cry I’m sure so many parents are used to), but you could tell it may burst over into a full crying session soon. The mother, witnessing the countdown to nuclear explosion, simply said “Just shut up!”
You might want to reprimand the mother for using such harsh language with the baby, but the crazy thing was it worked immediately! There was some nervous laughter, but no one bothered her about it at all.
Now, it’s possible the woman could speak fluent baby babble and head the the baby say something sassy to her.
“Those shoes with that top? Ugh, Barbara.”
“I told you that you should have reserved our seats before we got on the plane.”
“How do you say callate in English?”
Baby Crying Defense Points: 10/10
The Up and Over Option
Did you ever used to go to summer camp and play those games where you would have to pass something, like a water balloon or the severed head of the camp counselor, over your head in a relay race?
That’s the same idea here but it also requires a little (a lot of) lying. If you don’t think you can lie then this one is definitely not for you. Unless you lie about your ability to lie, so while people think you’re not lying you’re actually lying because you lied about being bad at lying.
What you have to do is simply start passing the baby over your head to the person behind you, while saying “I think the mother/father/responsible guardian/bouncy castle is back there, just keep passing”.
As soon as you do this, it’s important that you turn around and fall asleep immediately, because then the other passenger would feel bad about waking you up. If the passenger takes the hint, they will continue to pass the baby back until it is in someone else’s hands. Or you can say something that’ll really throw them off, like “I didn’t think they let dogs out of their cages” or “If we do this in 30 seconds we all get a free beverage”.
However, there is a chance that the baby will become confused or scared due to all the movement and commotion. But you’re willing to risk anything, right?
Baby Crying Defense Points: 2/10
The Rookie Option
Anyone that’s ever hung around with small children can easily relate to the following scenario: You’re both in a room, playing with different toys. The child assign toys to each person and you’re stuck with the dinosaur toy with the broken tail whom you would like to name Rusty but the child has already informed you that NO, the dinosaur’s name will be Taily because of his lack of tail. You try to point out that that doesn’t make sense, because that’s like naming a legless person “Usain Bolt”. But you’re mature, and you let it go.
After about a minute of playing, the child has decided that whatever toys they have are boring and they want your toy. And the only reason they want it is because you have it. Even when confronted with this option, the child will just respond with “well it’s mine anyway”.
Why not apply this to babies on planes? I’m not talking about them choosing your in-flight movie or God-forbid, playing with your phone. Let’s go big or go home: let them fly the freaking plane.
What better way to distract them than giving them the biggest toy around? The whole plane can be theirs! Sure, you may not make it to your preferred destination…but look at the bright spots:
- No crying anymore. Even if the baby is crying, you won’t be able to hear it.
- Who knows what buttons will be pressed? Maybe they’ll press the one to give you free alcohol?
- You’ll get to chill with the real captain and swap some war stories or something cool.
- You can double high five people now that you have both hands available.
I will admit, there are a few cons:
- Unpredictability, you might be seeing those ever elusive oxygen masks (but could be a good way to unlock an achievement).
- Stalling out.
- If you have a weak stomach, this may not be for you.
- With reinforced cockpits, getting to your baby may get slightly more difficult.
- Death amidst a fiery explosion.
Baby Crying Defense Points: 8/10
The Iron Maiden Option
You all remember the movie Matilda, right? Remember this device (go to 2:40 mark) that was in Ms. Trunchbull’s office?
“But Jake,” you cry, “where would I get an Iron Maiden?”
“Certainly not from the medieval times,” I’d reply, “it was a hoax of a torture device. But! You do have the bathroom.”
This is one that I’ve seen happen a few times and it really worked. A man took his baby with him to the bathroom and essentially locked himself in there for four hours. I give props to this guy because he was already more miserable than the rest of us and then made it even worse for himself.
No shiny daggers or horrible devices needed here folks.
Baby Crying Defense Points: 10/10