Baby On Board

Baby on planeOr… The Flight From Hell
Our flight from Las Vegas to St. Louis was almost that.  The flight was completely full so we knew we were going to have to share our third seat with another passenger.  But we didn’t know it would be two passengers, one of whom was 9 month old and had the lungs of a terrified banshee warrior on speed.  I understand that babies have to fly somewhere and sit somewhere but this mother was completely unprepared for the 3 hour tour of Hell that this child went through and put those around him through.  The worst part for infants is the pressure change in their ears during ascending and descending.  They don’t know how to make their ears pop to equalize the pressure.  Apparently this young mother didn’t know how to either.  She did have a cup of water and some formula.  As soon as we lifted off the baby began screaming.  We had to level off at 30,000 plus feet before my wife convinced her that the kid should drink something to help equalize the pressure.  So my wife poured the water into a baby bottle and the lady dipped 3 scoops of powdered formula into the bottle while juggling the nine month old acrobat.  She gave him the bottle and he did settle down and sleep for almost an hour.  When the baby was in a good mood he was happily patting the man sitting in front of him on his bald head, which the guy said he didn’t mind.

Then the wailing started again.  Fortunately there was a family with several young children across the aisle.  A girl of about 8 or 9 spent the rest of the flight playing with him and giving him things to play with to try to keep him distracted.  It worked for a while… until we started to s-l-o-w-l-y make our descent into St. Louis.  The ear pressure thing started up again and the beast reared it’s head again. 

How can such a loud and shrill sound come from such a tiny beautiful creature?  For some reason that high pitched scream just goes right through my skull and rattles my brain.  I had to stick my fingers in my ears to lessen the shrill din.  I’ve been on many flights where there is a baby screaming and the flight attendants will come and offer suggestions to the parent, but they didn’t come near this little one or his mother.

The mother said her husband is from Nepal and he wants to take the baby on a flight there to see his family.  She said it’s a 23 hour flight and after this flight she didn’t think that would happen.  I do sympathize with her but she just seemed totally unprepared for the possibility of a problem. 

After we landed the guy who’s head was patted during the flight turned to her and said that this was probably a very long three hour flight for her.  After we deplaned I saw him at the luggage carousel and told him that it was a long three hour flight for everyone on board that plane, especially those within a few rows of the child.

The mother had no pacifier and tried to get him to drink from a sippee cup, but he wanted no part of it.  We finally touched down and the little guy was so worked up I’m surprised he didn’t vomit.  I guess it could have been worse, he could have crapped all over but there was no indication of that aroma in the air.



17 thoughts on “Baby On Board

  1. I can’t comprehend what on earth compels a parent to think it is ok to take a baby on an airplane. They can’t handle it. Simple as that. Make the others come to you.

    The mother could have helped the baby with the air pressure by nursing him. First, he cant’ scream and nurse at the same time. Second, the very action ok sucking will help relieve the pressure behind his ears. I don’t understand why we in this country are such damn prudes about this. It is very natural, and it shuts the damn spawn of satan up.

    Regarding the effectiveness of a baby’s scream. I think that sound is hardwired in our primitive brains to trigger a stress reaction. It is an alarm designed to insure the survival of the helpless infant by getting adults to protect it, or help it. And we as humans are designed to hear it and react to it.

    I’ve heard, but never seen demonstrated, that it is impossible to drop a baby. Your body will simply not let it happen. There is some deep, core, survival instinct that will kick in, no thought required.


    • I was going to suggest the nursing thing, I’m all for it. The pacifier not so much.
      My friend was on a flight once from Chicago back to Texas, the young lady beside her had a baby, she was a nursing mother and nursed her baby. The flight attendant came and asked her to stop. My friend told the flight attendant to mind her own business. The mother had a blanket, and was sitting on the inside beside my friend and it wasn’t bothering her, she then gave the young mother her contact info.
      Most flight attendants know better, I can only guess that this one was new or stupid.


  2. I have learned to bring headphones on a flight.

    After that story, I will invest in a pair of 99 cent industrial ear plugs.

    Apparently I flew home as a 2 weeks old. Babies have to fly.


    • Sadly, almost no headphones or earplugs will block a baby’s screaming. Trust me, I have tried. It seems to strike a frequency that your very bones pick up.


      • Exactly, but I was amazed at how just my finger made the sound seem much farther away. And only the ear closest to the baby needed to be plugged. Made a world o0f difference. I was reading my Kindle so I just sort of propped my head up with my hand with my fingers over my ears so I didn’t look like a complete doofus. It kept me from grabbing the baby and tossing it out the airplane window. 😉


  3. Ron’s right. Time the feedings to make sure baby is hungry right at take-off and landing. The only kicker is a delayed take-off. But nursing is a good option too. A baby will often happily nurse from a breast even when he or she wouldn’t care for a bottle.

    There ARE times when one can’t avoid traveling with a baby. Sometimes the grandparents can’t travel and you’d like to take the baby home to the folks. But I do think people should think carefully before subjecting their kids to others.


  4. Having taken a baby and young children on short hop and long haul flights this sort of thing can prepared for and either minimized or eliminated with some preparation. Tylenol an hour before scheduled departure and an hour before landing (taken only if within dosage restrictions), activities for distraction and something to suck on or drink from go a long way to making the baby/child comfortable. Working on sleep patterns to coincide with the flight can also help. It’s not going to work the same for all but in travels with my family it has worked great, no persistent crying and have had compliments on the good behaviour of my child (including from Miriam Margoyles on a trip into Philadelphia).

    It takes a quite bit of work on the part of the parent(s) and understanding of handling your child, recognising when they are starting to get distressed and starting distraction early before it escalates but it can be done.

    I feel for you, I can’t stand crying children on flights either but it’s not all down to the child, the parents need to be prepared.

    That being said, 10 hours was the longest flight I have done with a young child and I would think REALLY REALLY hard before subjecting them and myself and others to anything longer.


    • I just think that the mother wasn’t aware of what was likely to happen and was not prepared. I’m sure it was the baby’s first flight. Mom didn’t seem anxious about the flight so I’m thinking she’s flown before, just never with a baby. I hope they have many more flights ahead of them, hopefully enjoyable ones. I just don’t want to be on those flights.


  5. I know my Bose noise cancelling headphones helped during my last flight. It was almost like turning the baby off! This one was a couple of rows away, maybe it wouldn’t have been so great had the little rascal sat next to me!

    I’m like you…a crying baby is like nails on a chalkboard…and I have a 20 month old!

    The last time I flew, the girl next to me had a small dog in a crate. He was a good little thing. She was a Playboy model, so the dog could have eaten my big toe and I wouldn’t have minded!


    • A little crying is one thing, but it’s that high pitched screech that gets to me. It’s amazing how just a finger pushing that little inner ear flap closed can make that baby sound like it’s at the other end of the plane.


  6. I fly all over the place frequently with my 3 year old. Even a couple of flights to Tokyo; first of which we took when he was 8 months. Thankfully he has almost always been a great flyer. Sleeps, plays, and keeps himself busy. But I guess he is used to it. There was one time on a flight to Austin, TX he decided to freak out. I felt so bad that I bought everyone in the rows around me two rounds of drinks. Surprisingly that is the only bad flight that comes to mind. Very lucky to have such a good travel companion even at 3.


  7. We were stationed in Hawaii when Pele ‘surprised’ us with our daughter. Having family on the East Coast, I knew Shorty would have to be a good traveler. She took her first flight at 7 weeks to STL and was a champ – other than a little discomfort on the landing, she rocked it out. We timed the flight west to coincide with her sleep schedule so she slept almost the whole flight into Minneapolis and then was happy as a clam for the short flight to STL. On the initial flight, we had several people behind us shocked we even had a baby.

    For the next two years, we got Shorty used to headphones early, invested in a portable DVD player and window clings (they stick to tray tables!), and taught her the pacifier is her friend. By age 2, she had 47,000 frequent flier miles and LOVES airplanes. It’s also paid off in other aspects — on our cross-country move, she had no problem doing 12 hour days as long as she could take bathroom and food breaks. We’re gearing up for a long car trip this summer and she just wants to make sure we stop and get a picture of her in each new state.

    As stated above, it’s about knowing and anticipating your child and the art of distraction. On long drives/flights, we pick a time (either every 2 hours or ever state line) and give her a new, small toy — something like sparkly crayons to color with, a new DVD to watch, finger puppets – a matter of a few dollars each, but totally worth it in the end!!! Especially on airplanes — it’s not the passengers’ fault we moved 5,000 miles from family!


  8. I think the whole comment was a jackass thing to say. Kids need to fly. Someone needs to bring them. Sucks to be you but why post it in your blog? Many babies do not use pacifiers and therefore a mother would not have one. This doesn’t mean she is unprepared. Nor do babies always want to eat or drink when they are having ear pain. UH….They are babies and do not understand what will help them.

    I know it is difficult to comprehend but babies are small people and they do not know about cabin pressure….just like it is hard to understand that big people and little people need to travel. So weird huh? All types of people need to travel. Maybe they should show that on the safety video……Parents have as just a hard time traveling with their kids as the inconvenienced passengers. They just have to keep the kids after the flight when they are mentally and physically exhausted and have dealt w/ ppl like you.



    • I wrote about it in MY blog because I wanted to write about it in MY blog. Yes, it sucked to be me on that flight. It also sucked to be most of the people in several rows near the baby. I would hope it sucked to be the mother knowing that her baby was making a lot of people near it uncomfortable. And most importantly I’m sure it sucked to be the baby dealing with the pain he was going through. Giving the child something to suck on and swallow would most likely have alleviated the ear pressure problem for the child and he wouldn’t have had to suffer. I’ll stick with my thought that the mother was unprepared or at the very least, uninformed about the possible problems they might encounter.

      Sorry that I’m a jackass for being bothered by a child screaming as loud as it could less that 36 inches from me. And the parent didn’t have “to deal with me” at all. I didn’t say anything negative to her nor did I attack the child in any way. I felt sorry for him. We helped her prepare the formula that she should have prepared before she got on the airplane. My wife held the baby for her and I tried talking to him and making faces to distract him.

      Yes, kids need to fly and someone needs to bring them and it’s unfortunate that the parent couldn’t get up and take the baby outside, and that I’m a jackass for writing about it. Go figure.


  9. I can relate to you regarding this incident – a small, cute creature sounding like a firetruck siren just in front of my nose. Oh boy.


    “When the baby was in a good mood he was happily patting the man sitting in front of him on his bald head, which the guy said he didn’t mind.”

    That must have been a hilarious situation. I can just imagine the look on that guys face. 🙂

    It’s a relief that the baby didn’t crap all over the plane 30,000 feet above ground.

    Also, I’m frustrated that the flight attendants present there couldn’t do anything helpful.


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