Baby Hammocks on a Plane: Yay or Nay?
I am honestly not sure what to make of this new "baby hammock" product. Part of me is somewhat horrified by the idea, and part of me thinks it is kind of great in some circumstances. A few readers have emailed me about this new option for traveling families (thank you!), and there is also a MilePoint thread on the same topic. Taken from the FlyeBaby website, the product is described as:
FlyeBaby is a hammock-type seat that can be used on an airplane during the cruise portion of the flight as a comfortable and convenient place to put your baby. It can also attach to most dining room chairs to serve as a portable high chair.
Everything looks "hunky dory" in the photo from their website, but I can't help but wonder a few things. First, what if the person in the seat in front of you quickly reclined? That has happened to me when my daughter was in a car seat sleeping and it pinned her legs and she woke up screaming.....and that was just her legs, not her whole body. The instructions do say that if your baby is long enough that their head is touching the tray table, then they are too big for the product. It also says you should let the person in front of you know you are using the product, and ask them to let you know when they are going to recline. I'm not sure I would want a stranger to be impacted by me hooking a baby to the back of their seat (nor am I sure I would trust a stranger to let me know when they are going to recline). If you had someone in your party sit in the seat in front of you then that issue could be mitigated. In fact, that arrangement is actually what I recommend when you are using a forward-facing car seat as well in order to avoid the "leg crush" issue that we have experienced with our daughter. I've never seen one of these hammocks in action, but I am also somewhat concerned about relying on the tray table latch to hold my child that can weigh up to 25 pounds per their website. I can only assume that it must work fine most of the time, but that just seems a bit beyond what the tray table latch was designed to do.
Okay, those are some concerns I have, but there are some things I do like about FlyeBaby. I absolutely see the value in having somewhere to put your baby that isn't your lap. Having your hands free can make a big difference. Of course if you purchase a seat for your baby that problem is solved, but presumably this product is primarily designed for those who aren't willing or able to purchase an additional seat for their lap infant. Face to face interaction with infants is also a good thing, so I can see the value in that set-up. Even if you had a seat for the child, I can see that having somewhere else to move to during the flight could be really valuable. Just like adults, little ones often don't always want to stay in the exact same place for the duration of the flight. I also like that the hammock has a built-in five point harness. As their website points out, this is not for use during take-off, landing, or turbulence. However, if the child is in the hammock and some turbulence begins, at least there is some level of restraint available until you can secure them back in their car seat (or in your lap).
Unless you are in Economy Plus or some other premium seating, I just can't imagine how their is enough room between your seat and the one in front of you for this product to really work. Their website says that it was designed with a business class seat in mind, but I imagine that many that would consider purchasing this would often be in economy seats. Clearly I am a bit conflicted on this product. I love the idea of a product designed to make family travel easier, and I do think their are some real benefits to FlyeBaby, but I have some real concerns as well. My daughter is far too large to use this product, but I would love to hear from families that have seen or used the hammock. Even if you have never used this product I would love to hear your initial thoughts. Good idea? Horrible idea? Somewhere in between?