Call them what you will, Baby’s First Flight Bags or Airplane Kindness Bags, please DO NOT hand them out when you are flying with a baby for the first time.
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Don’t know what I’m talking about?
It usually comes up a couple time of year when a couple (or celebrities) hand out little hand made gift bags containing sweets, ear plugs and a little note explaining that this is their baby’s first flight.
They typically include an apology in case the baby cries (usually written in the baby’s voice). Just do a search in google on “baby’s first flight bag” and you’ll see plenty of images of these first flight goodie bags.
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I’ve already started to see the request for suggestions for these goody bags come up in family travel Facebook groups. It’s that time of year when new parents are starting to plan their first flight with a baby. They are excited to be flying to see family for the holidays and show off their adorable baby.
So why shouldn’t they be excited and do something kind for the people around them on their baby’s first flight?
Doing something kind and considerate is NOT the problem here. The problem is with the perception and expectations of the other adults on that flight.
When parents start to hand out these airplane kindness bags, people start to expect them! They also start to expect something for their “troubles” when a baby cries on the plane.
It also gives the perception that there is something wrong if a baby cries in a public space. That children are a disturbance.
Let’s just say this together: Babies Cry! It’s what they do! It’s how they communicate. They have no other way to tell us that their ears hurt, they are hungry or that something else is wrong. Why should they, or us parents, apologize for this?
The same can be said for toddlers. They throw tantrums, they cry and they kick. This is their way of expressing their feelings. They don’t have the words to articulate how they are feeling.
As a parent, it’s my job to make sure I am taking care of the needs of my baby or my toddler when we travel. It’s my job to make sure they aren’t hungry or hurting. It’s my job to pack the best airplane activities for my baby or toddler. It’s my job to help my toddler through his tantrum.
It’s NOT MY JOB to make everyone around me in this public space comfortable.
Let me ask you a question. Think back to all the flights you’ve been on. How many times have you been more annoyed by an adult on a flight than by a crying baby? I have so many examples that I’ve completely lost count. Did anyone ever give you anything for your troubles?
I get it, flying with a baby for the first time can be intimidating for new parents. Heck, even after multiple flights with a baby or toddler, I still get a little nervous. You just never know how it’s going to go. And some flights aren’t going to be good. That’s just the way it goes.
We were once on a flight from a trip in Iceland with a toddler and preschooler, when my overtired toddler lost it. We hadn’t even taken off yet. The couple in front of me started talking very loudly about how “this was going to be the worst flight EVER” and immediately called over a flight attendant to ask for new seats.
I was doing everything I could to calm him down. Finally, I pulled out my phone and he got distracted. Minutes later he was sleeping and slept the ENTIRE flight. In total, it was maybe 10 minutes that he was upset.
I can’t imagine how giving out some sweets and ear plugs for the flight would have improved the mood of those two in front of me.
What should you do instead of handing out baby’s first flight bags?
Be that wonderful parent that you are. Focus on your baby or toddler and help them through the situation. Ignore the eye rolls or comments around you (easier said than done).
Know that you are doing the best you can and let the rest go.
What Should I Do Instead of Handing out Airplane Kindness Bags?
I’d like to offer a few alternatives to putting together goodie bags for the flight.
- Try to plan flights at the best time of day for your baby or toddler. Mornings are a good time as they are often happier then. You can also plan for nap times or overnight if you think your baby will sleep on the plane.
- If it’s a long haul flight, bring an inflatable airplane cushion to give toddlers their own space to sleep on a flight or one of these best baby carriers for travel so you can walk your baby to sleep on the plane as needed.
- Try not to stress and do your best to help keep your baby or toddler calm and happy. People will recognize that you are doing what you can.
- If you really want to give out goodie bags, give them out to the flight attendants. On all the flights we’ve been on, the flight attendants have been our biggest help. One flight attendant even took our 14 month old for a little walk to give us a break when he wouldn’t sleep on a 10 hour flight.
- Read all our tips on flying with a baby or surviving a flight with a toddler.
- When you become a pro at flying with a toddler or baby, offer a reassuring smile or help in anyway to other new parents.