A study recently revealed that more than half of airplane passengers would rather sit next to an obviously sick person or someone with body odor than a baby. As a mom of two kids, I take offense to this on so many levels.
When did people forget that babies are humans, too? When did people forget that they too were once tiny humans, or maybe even parents of small children themselves? When did people forget that adults can be just as, if not more, annoying than babies (and they have no excuse for it!)? When did babies become the "problem" with the otherwise oh-so-enjoyable experience of air travel? And really, when did it become acceptable for people to show such blatant prejudice against humans under a certain age?
Not only is it rude but I think people are confused.
I'd argue, that for the most part, people aren't annoyed by the mere presence of a baby; they are annoyed by parents whom they determine aren't doing enough to control or pacify a fussy baby. A sleeping baby surely doesn't bother anyone just by being there, but the minute that baby starts whining or crying, the judgment begins.
Are the parents trying everything they can to calm the baby down? Are the parents paying the baby enough attention? Are they trying to get them to sleep or to feed them? And in the case of a slightly older infant, are the parents making sure they don't kick the back of the seat? Quieting them when they get too loud?
It's easy to place your annoyance on a baby who can't speak for itself (which by the way, is why they cry, because they can't talk!), because it wouldn't exactly be socially acceptable to proclaim how much you dislike all adults who don't parent to your standards.
And most parents get it. We're all stuck in a confined space for who knows how long and no one (including the baby's parents) wants to listen to a screaming baby the whole time. But I also don't want to sit next to someone who plays their music so loud I can hear it through their headphones or a passenger who eats smelly food. I don't want another person putting their leg in my space or taking up the whole armrest. But it still happens. And these people know better; they are actually capable of being considerate to others, and they are choosing not to be. A baby, on the other hand, isn't being rude on purpose or intentionally oblivious; they are crying because there is something upsetting them.
As a person who is acutely aware of how my children behave in general and especially when we're traveling, I can tell you this study stresses me out. It's already stressful enough to fly with little ones without feeling like all eyes on are you — and now I can safely assume more than half of those eyes want nothing to do with me and my kids. Talk about walking into an unwelcoming situation. What if my kid is an angel and doesn't make a sound that whole flight? Then do I get invited back? Then am I allowed into the club of air travelers whose job it is to judge other passengers?
And what if my baby screams the entire time (this has happened to me!)? Then am I kicked off the island? Shunned from flying ever again? No. Because if my baby won't stop screaming the entire flight and I've tried everything I can think of, there's actually nothing I can do about the situation and you and your judgments are not helping. In fact, consider yourself the lucky one, because you can put your headphones in and turn up the volume on your Netflix binge, podcast, or playlist while I try everything I can to calm my baby down while also trying not to burst into tears myself.
So if you're one of the assh*les that selected "baby" over all the other unfortunate options of passengers to share airspace with, maybe consider a little compassion instead of judgment. Be one of those awesome people you read about that help calm the baby down, instead of one of those not-so-nice people who make a stressful situation even more stressful. And while you're at it, keep your elbow off my armrest.