Flying with Baby: No need to apologize with gift bags

Parents made headlines after giving out gift bags to fellow passengers to apologize in advance for their crying baby. Emma Waverman thinks this is a bad idea.

baby-flying Photo: iStockphoto

Traveling on a plane can be uncomfortable enough without the additional screeches of a nearby baby. Anyone whose been on a plane can relate to the disappointment of sitting near a crying infant or restless toddler. So, two US parents tried a new tactic to placate potentially irritated passengers on their recent flight.

In a strategic move, the parents of one-year-old Madeline handed out candies and ear plugs to other passengers with this adorable note:

"Hi Stranger! My name is Madeline. I will be 1 on December 17th and this is my first flight. I'll try to be on my best behavior, but I'd like to apologize in advance if I lose my cool, get scared or my ears hurt. My mom and dad picked you this goodies bag with a few treats. There are also earplugs in case my first public serenade isn’t as enjoyable to you as it is to my mom and dad.”

At least one Miami-bound passenger was placated by the note, saying that the atmosphere on the airplane changed: "It was like a scene straight out of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," the man wrote on Reddit. "I was literally sitting there smiling. I looked around and saw at least eight other smiling faces as well." Madeline didn’t disturb him at all, he later admitted. And she probably wouldn’t have, even if her parents hadn't spent the time stuffing re-sealable plastic bags with candy and a cutesy note.

These parents aren’t the first to resort to this traveling trick. There have been a few other parents over the last couple of years whose cute little loot bags for passengers have gone viral. All it takes is ear plugs, candies and a sweet note in Comic Sans font to calm the Grinch-y feelings of passengers (and rank high on Reddit).


These parents all meant well, but I think handing out candy and earplugs to adults on a plane is ridiculous. In no way are the other passengers owed anything because you have a baby with you. They are adults, and your baby is a baby. Public space is not divided into people with children and people who are allergic to everyone under the age of 18. Many passengers are also parents, and all of them were babies once. They can bring their own ear phones and snacks and they can suck it up if a baby is crying.

Rebecca Dube wrote a great post for the Today show. She says simply: “You don’t get a special treat simply for not being a jerk.”

I had a flight to Las Vegas ruined once by a hysterical baby. It was awful. I was heading down for a romantic weekend with my husband, and I was all by myself and really needed a nap to make up for my all-night packing session. I never got a nap—but you know who it was worse for? It was definitely worse for the humiliated and hard-working parents who kept apologizing to everyone they saw. I wouldn’t have wanted to be them—and I would have been embarrassed to have accepted a gift when they clearly could have used a pick-me-up. They needed the soothing—not me.

Dube says that parents should never apologize for their crying baby: “New parents, let this be my public service announcement to you. Throughout their lives, your children will cry, throw temper tantrums at inopportune times, be too loud, too smelly, too wiggly, too… childish for everyone around them. Hold your head high. Smile and be polite—but don’t apologize.”

There are terrible parents out there, there are annoying kids, and crying, colicky babies. Sometimes the combination of bad parenting and the indecencies of modern flight can make for a terrible few hours. Just the other day, two women got into a brawl on a plane when one woman complained about the other woman’s crying baby. The pilot almost had to make an emergency landing.


We can all admit to doing the eye roll when we see a baby seated near us on a plane—even my kids do it. But if a baby starts crying, instead of turning on my judge’ometer, I try to show compassion. I give a knowing look, I offer a helping hand and a smile. And I always carry my own set of noise-cancelling earphones. Let’s be honest, between the lack of leg room, the paying for terrible food, and the surly flight attendants, I often feel like crying on a plane, too. But I don’t hand out—or expect—a loot bag.

Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. She has many opinions, some of them are fit to print. Read more of her articles here and follow her on Twitter @emmawaverman.

Read more:

Flying with your baby doesn't have to be a nightmare>

This article was originally published on Dec 23, 2014

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners

I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.