Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wailing Baby Survival Kit

Last week, I was flying across the country with Tate. He is 8 months old. And including our layovers, we had over 11 hours of travel time one way. Needless to say, I had a ton of anxiety about this. Not because Tate is not a good traveler. In fact, he is fantastic. But rather because I do think it is unrealistic for a mother, however bias she is, and however perfect her child may be, to delude herself into thinking that an 8 month old is going to successfully sit still on her lap on a plane without wailing, writhing, or otherwise disturbing fellow travelers. This was also the first time I was flying alone with Tate, so I was going to have to endure all the glares on my own. My anxiety about this kept me up at nights. Would Tate behave? What would I do if I got a middle seat? Where does one even change a diaper on a plane? And what if he just completely lost it? I considered many options. Unnecessary cold medicine. A little rum in his bottle. Chickening out and not taking him at all. Obviously, all of these seemed ridiculous. So ultimately, I decided on the Wailing Baby Survival Kit. And I have to tell you: it was a huge hit.
Here's what I did. I created a note that said the following:
"Sigh. Just your luck. Of course you would be sitting next to the 8 month old on the plane. Don't worry, we understand. We remember the feeling of dread well. Only now it has been replaced with a gripping fear that our baby will be that baby- the one making you absolutely miserable no matter how we try to placate him. Which brings us to this: the Wailing Baby Survival Kit. Although our fingers (and toes) are crossed in hopes that our baby won't be the wailing baby, we figure it can't hurt to provide you with all the necessities (and non-necessities) you could need just in case. Necessities include earplugs, Tylenol, and chocolate. Non-necessities include snacks for sustenance, crossword puzzles, and (should the situation become really dire), the alcoholic beverage of your choice, on us. In a nutshell- thanks for your patience. We hope we won't need it. The Holmboe Family"
And then I attached it to a glassine bag filled with earplugs, Tylenol, dark chocolate, a Clif bar, crossword puzzle, some hand lotion, mints, and other general goodies.

I placed each Wailing Baby Survival Kit on the seats of the two people sitting next to and/or closest to me on the plane. Of course, Tate did not act up, but the goodwill that the kits created were such that, had he been crying his little lungs out, I think the people next to me would have nodded in understanding while eating Dove chocolate and generally feeling good about the world. Truly, people, the fellow passengers loved them. I think I will do it from now on.
With a few small changes. First, I think I would transition to a small box. The bags got crumpled through the check-in process, and didn't look quite as cute. And then the note could be flat, preventing it from getting wrinkled. But even with these small kinks, this has to be one of the best ideas I have ever had.


  1. Oh. My. God. You should remove this post so that you can start making them to sell. BRILLIANT.

  2. @brigid: I am considering it. Seriously, wouldn't it be awesome if you could just pick one up in the airport? :)

  3. Great idea! I might need to copy this for our next travels but call it the Toddler Tantrum Survival Kit.


  4. Janelle! This is a sweet, creative, and brilliant idea! :) And I agree with Brigid - I totally think it could be marketable!! Glad to hear that the trip went okay in the end, and that the 'survival kits' were such a great hit with the passengers. I would have loved it had you sat next to me. :)

    -- Lindsay
    (wife of Danny, Zach's WU science buddy)

    PS - I didn't realize you had a blog! I just added your blog to our bloglist! :) One of these days we're actually going to have to meet in person so we can officially meet Tate and the gents can catch up. Hope you are well!

  5. Lindsay, so good to hear from you! Yes- let's all get together soon!

  6. This is such a great idea, but more so, very KIND!

  7. Your idea is catching daughter received one of these yesterday on her trip from South Dakota to Phoenix. An absolutely great idea ~ definitely marketable.

  8. Janelle, I love this!! We are flying to Hawaii in a couple of moths, my son will be nine months old and I'm totally going to do something similar! Thank you for the brilliant idea!! Your letter was superb! xox