Air travel has changed a lot over the years, especially where babies are concerned. These days babies are placed in car seats just like they are when traveling in cars, but in years past, that was not the case. Of course, the invention of the car seat has saved countless lives in car and air travel. Nevertheless, years ago people didn’t have car seats. In those days babies were often held on their parents laps, but even that wasn’t as odd as the way babies traveled in the mid-1950s.
It was thought that babies needed to be able to sleep on the trip, and so the planes had a “cradle” that attached to the baggage area, and the bed folded down. Called skycots, the beds allowed the baby to lay down and maybe sleep through the flight. If you have ever traveled with a baby, you know that if they get fussy because of things like ear pressure from being so high, it is going to be miserable for everyone. Air stewards were actually tasked with attending to the children during the flight. The babies were pretty much in the skycot for the duration of the trip. It was almost like putting your baby in the luggage bin…not something most of us would even consider these days. Parents were required to hold their baby during take-off and landing, of course, because the babies were not buckled into the skycots. I don’t suppose they would have liked it if they were, but there really wasn’t a way to do that anyway, so they were just placed in the sky cot like a cradle or crib. To me it also seems an odd way to do things, because what of the baby who could sit up or climb over the side? The whole thing would make the average parent worry, but in those days it was just the way it was…just like having your kids in the car unbuckled…which was completely normal when I was a kid.
While pictures seemed to show the happy babies relaxing in their sky cot, the reality is that planes in the 50s were noisy, and turbulent. My guess is that the pictures taken before takeoff, were not exactly how the flights went. In addition, many babies are not too keen on the idea of some stranger taking care of them on the plane, especially since they can’t always see their parents. Parents gave their babies a bottle of milk in an effort to appease them and lull them to sleep. I wonder just how well that worked.