No one wants to be the cause of other people's discomfort or annoyance. Having a child who is screaming on a plane is extremely stressful because you're trying to care for the child while dealing with the added pressure of trying to calm her down so as not to upset the people around you. It's hard. But realizing the following (through many flights involving my own crying children) has helped me cope:
Number one thing to remember: You child's crying (probably) bothers you more than anybody.
Here are some other things to keep in mind:
- Really, many people have kind and understanding hearts and probably feel sorry for the baby — and her parents.
- Most people come armed with headphones for just such a situation.
- The roar of the plane helps muffle the sounds of baby's screams, at least somewhat.
- Sometimes babies just need to cry a little to "get it out;" more than likely, if you give a tired baby a little time to cry (while comforting her, of course) rather than trying to distract her with food or toys, everyone will be rewarded with a sleeping child.
- Nurse or bottle-feed during takeoff and landing to ease ear discomfort. Preventing discomfort or pain in baby can ward off bouts of crying.
- Help lull baby to sleep by walking to either end of the plane, if you can, where the plane's roar is louder.
- Do your best not to worry about people who seem annoyed. You'll get either more stressed out or irritated, and for sure baby can feel these vibes from you — which will certainly not help calm her down.
- Be considerate. Definitely do what you can to keep baby from disturbing other flyers. Keep baby's feet from kicking the seat in front of you (unless you're lucky enough to be in the bulkhead) and apologize if baby throws things or anything like that. Acknowledging others' discomfort goes a long way in easing disgruntled feelings all around.
Honestly, my experiences traveling with children have the effect of so-called "restoring my faith in humanity." I usually end air travel with my children very glad it's over, but also feeling like people in general are nice and that their hearts are good. No matter what, no matter how awful it gets, remember that the ordeal is finite. In a matter of hours, it'll all be over.