Babies On A Plane

A couple of weeks ago, we took our six month old son, Tom, to New York. It was his first proper holiday and he was understandably excited. Actually, he was just his normal, cheerful, flailing, burbling, gurning self. But I like to think he was excited.

Anyway, this was his first time on a plane so it was a tad nerve-wracking. Would he be OK? Would he cry? Would I have to change his nappy during a spot of turbulence and end up with a toilet looking like an H-Block prison cell circa 1978?

What if he screamed for eight solid hours? How would his fellow passengers react? Like this?

“I have had it with these motherfucking babies on this motherfucking plane!”

It’s bad enough when it’s your own baby, but when it’s someone else’s, the screams seem, well, louder. And I’ll admit it. I was worried that we’d be seen as Bad Parents.

Thankfully, all went well (or as well as can be expected). So I thought I’d share a few observations, hints and tips on how to survive Babies On A Plane.

On boarding

Once you’re on the plane, carry your baby up and down the aisles to show him off to his fellow passengers*. This will reassure them that he is a nice, friendly baby who poses no threat to them. It also buys you precious sympathy points if crying ensues. “This is strange,” passengers will think. “That baby seemed so happy and smiley earlier. This crying must be a momentary aberration.” Hahaha suckers! Gotcha!

Pre-flight preparation

You’re belted up and ready to go. It’s time for the safety video. Now, while it is important that you acquaint yourself with where the lifejackets, oxygen masks and emergency exits are, it’s pointless trying to get your baby to do the same. He will simply think he knows it all.

We gave Tom the safety card to read. He just tried to eat it. As he does with anything that he manages to get hold of.

Mmm, tasty safety card…

Take-off and landing

The plane’s rumbling up the runway. The engines roar louder and louder. The wheels leave the ground. How do you solve the unpleasant ‘ear-popping’ sensation that can cause instant baby wailing (and dangerously raised blood pressure in nervous flyers)?

Simple. Feed the little bugger. He’ll be too engrossed in guzzling down The White Stuff to notice anything. Sadly, this ruse cannot be used throughout the entire flight as even the most milk-laden mother is going to run out at some point (and even the greediest baby is going to get full). On a completely unrelated point, it’s amazing how breasts can be such  distra… ooh, boobies!

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes. Flying. Right.

In-flight entertainment

It is utterly pointless sitting Junior down in front of the seat-back telly and hoping that he will be entranced by the latest movie blockbuster or old episodes of The Simpsons. He’ll quickly become bored and will be much happier covering the screen with his mucky paw prints.

“Booooo-ring!”

It’s not that he thinks the pictures are real; I reckon it’s because he’s convinced it’s a touchscreen. It’s not an iPad, kid – you need to use the remote control to change channels. (Talking of which, under no circumstances give your baby the remote control. He will only try to eat it. Or inadvertently press the ‘Call stewardess’ button. Which, as he’s not allowed booze or pretzels, is a waste of their valuable time.)

Foregoing the delights of Black Swan and Limitless myself, I spent most of the flight wandering up and down the plane with Tom in a sling, ending up (mysteriously) in the galley, where I would surreptitiously ask for a gin and tonic.

(Top tip. Make sure you add “And I’ll have the same” when you order. The stewardesses have never heard this joke before and will find it hilarious. Your baby, however, will stare pityingly at you, much like Sylvester Jr. as if to say, “Why have I been lumbered with this buffoon?”)

“Oh, father.”

Sleeping

Sleeping? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Sorry. Lost it a bit back there. Bit tired and all that. If you’re like me, you’ll know how hard it can be to sleep on a plane. There’s the restricted space. The hums, bumps and vibrations. The constant interruptions. Now multiply those distractions by a lot and you can understand why babies aren’t great sleepers. Firstly, because those free eye masks are just too big. But more importantly, there’s just too much going on. Babies are like hairless puppies – they’re just curious about absolutely everything. So why would they want to miss it all by going to sleep?

Shh, he’s finally asleep. FOR ABOUT A MICROSECOND.

Tom managed a whole hour’s kip on the flight out. The rest of the time was spent being carried around the plane, savouring the experience and smiling at his fellow passengers. Some even smiled back, albeit warily.

On the way back, which was a night flight, he slept for most of the time (I assume he’d become somewhat blasé about the whole thing, what with it being him having become a frequent flyer in the space of a week).

And when he woke up,we let him sit in his own seat for a bit.

“Oh stewardess. Where’s my milk?”

*Only do this if your baby is smiling and quiet. Carrying a crying baby up and down a plane is like showing everyone the explosives you’ve got strapped to your chest. Please note: this is a joke.
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One Response to “Babies On A Plane”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    It sounds like it went rather well. You’re very brave to take a baby to Noo Yoik. I was quite chuffed when we managed to take Milo to Wales for two days…

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