Airplanes and babies, Flying with kids

A Story about Babies on Airplanes

Airplanes and babies, Flying with kids

Would it be awkward for me to come up to you on an airplane and ask to hold your crying baby?

I mean I know that you don’t know me. But I’m melting over here into a puddle in 30D because your frazzled state is taking me back.

I remember the sweating from the endless pat, pat, pat and bounce, bounce, bounce. I recall the crackers on the floor and the toys flying out into the aisle. I can get in touch with trying to block out the stares and moans of other passengers while I try to entertain a toddler and soothe a baby at the same time.

I don’t wish to re-live those days of long haul flights with wee ones but something in me is mourning of late the season that we could all fit into one little airplane row.

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I used to fly with these little people.

These days everyone has the world blocked out with their headphones before we ever even board. Myself included.

And I’m thankful for that.

But when I hear a baby crying on a plane, I can close my eyes and be transported back to an overnight flight to China. My baby had refused to sleep, even after eleventy million hours of flying and two layovers. I was way past exhausted and felt the stares of everyone on the plane were as piercing as my child’s screams. At some point, I actually began to pray that the plane would just go down. In that moment, our little family slipping out of this world and into the next together felt like it would be a mercy.

And then,

A pair of arms reached out to me. An offer to hold my baby from a sweet flight attendant.

“Hold baby?”

I was so surprised because on many flights in the US, I’d never had a flight attendant or anyone else offer to help me on a plane. This was my first trip to Asia with little ones and I was amazed at how welcomed our babies were by the people we met.

On our trip home from China, when we checked in for the long flight across the Pacific, the airline attendant took one look at us with our babies and she bumped us up to business class. I used the extra room to make sleeping palettes and we all got more sleep on that flight than we did our entire summer in China. It was bliss.

So to the Sweet Mama behind me in 28C, I’m looking at you with the mercy of someone who wishes they had the power to give you first class seats. I don’t want to be back in your shoes, but I see your blood pressure rising with each wail, and I would love to give you a moment’s peace.

Why don’t you catch your breathe while I walk that baby down the aisle? My hips still know the familiar swing of a baby calming dance. My arms remember how to cradle children, though mine are all too big for that now.

Would it be too terribly strange for me, a stranger, to reach out and take your baby? We both know she’s not going to fall asleep until a few minutes before we land.

For all the mamas (and daddies) out there flying with babies. Cheers to travel of all kinds and with all ages. Solidarity!

I flew with several sweet babies on my recent trip to Cape Verde with First Choice for my Out of Office Blogging.

13 Comments

  1. So loved this! I’m sure mommas all over the world are saying “amen and than you.”

    1. I’m so glad to hear that! Makes me happy. 🙂

  2. I would absolutely let you walk my wailing baby on a plane! Love this post! Love you more!

    1. Aww! LOVE YOU more BACK!

  3. Very sweet. Solidarity, indeed!

  4. I have thought many times about helping with a baby on a flight, but always wondered if the parent(s) would think I was crazy. Now, being a grandmother the feeling is even worse.

    1. I’m always curious if other people ever offer! Let me know if you ever do how it goes! 🙂

  5. Love it! I can remember thinking it would be a good idea to wean my oldest before a flight home from Puerto Rico… NOT a good idea BTW!

    1. Oh girl I can feel your pain! I was always sad when I didn’t have that as a back up for comfort!

  6. Do it! I took a 24 hour train trip once with my 11 month old, 3 year old, and 12 year old. We had a long delay in LA (loooooong!!!). At some point an older gentleman from Hawaii offered to hold the baby while she was sleeping. What a relief! My arms were so tired and there seemed to be no relief in sight. He was so sweet. He bought the girls muffins and milk in the morning. I’ll never forget his smiling face and generosity to a tired momma. His name was Sol, short for Solomon.

    1. Oh I LOVE this story!! So sweet!! 🙂

  7. Loved this article!!! My hubby and I are from different continents (and we live on yet another one). Although we don’t have babies yet, flying with the progeny to visit grandmas is definitely an inevitable near-future predicament we are very much aware of 😀 Every time I fly and hear a baby crying, I imagine myself with a toddler in a few years, being overly conscious of who all is being bothered. I love your attitude and action! I should try it next time a mama is being baby-desperate on a plane 🙂

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