This article about Airplane Goodie Bags was written by baby travel expert Celine Brewer and may contain affiliate links.
Call them what you will, Baby’s First Flight Gift Bags or Airplane Kindness Bags, please DO NOT hand them out when you are flying with a baby for the first time.
Don’t know what I’m talking about?
Baby’s first flight gift bags usually comes up a few times a year, typically when a couple (or celebrities) hand out little airplane goodie bags containing sweets, ear plugs and a little note explaining that this is their baby’s first flight.
Baby flight goodie bags typically include an apology in case the baby cries (usually written in the baby’s voice). Just do a search in Google “baby’s first flight gift bag” and you’ll see plenty of images of these airplane baby gifts.
I’ve already started to see the request for suggestions for these baby flight goodie 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.
What’s Wrong with Giving a Baby’s First Flight Goodie Bag?
So why shouldn’t new parents 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. This is the wrong message.
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 our babies, 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.
Think Back to your Pre-Baby Flight Experiences
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 any of the irritating adults 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 the seats 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 baby’s first flight gift bags with 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 snarky comments around you (easier said than done).
Know that you are doing the best you can and let the rest go!
6 Alternatives to Handing out Airplane Kindness Bags
I’d like to offer a few alternatives to putting together airplane goodie bags for your family flight.
- Try to plan flights at the best time of day for your baby or toddler. Mornings are a good time as babies 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. Even if you are dealing with a crying baby, if you are making an effort, your fellow passengers will recognize that you are doing everything you can.
- If you really feel compelled to do this, bring goodie bags for 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 a kind gesture to other new parents, especially if they have a crying baby.
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.