Maybe cribs should come with a flight attendant call button


In the cockpit, when an alarm sounds, the first response is to “Identify and Cancel” the warning. This is the call to acknowledge the source of the alarm, silence the warning and then determine a course of action. If there are several warnings, you prioritize them - often based on the color of the alarm. Yes, our planes are color coded. Cyan = Let’s hope it stays cyan. Yellow = That’s interesting. Red = Put down your coffee. I often attempt to “Identify and Cancel” when the baby monitor sounds from across the room. Unlike the airplane, there is only only color for the alarm - Red! No option to prioritize. The alarm is either Red... or Red. It’s too bad the monitor can’t give me a cautionary Yellow Caution and Double Chime for “the diaper is full and it starting to leak around my thigh making my legs feel all sticky”. I’d put down my coffee for a Red warning and a Triple Chime for “a cat has crossed the 33rd parallel and is getting dangerously close to pouncing up into the crib with me.”

Up front with us, we have a big book listing the things that can be broken but yet it is still safe to fly off into the sunset. This is the Minimum Equipment List and it’s a master list of items on the airplane and ranks them on just how important they are to us. It will say something like, “There are two engines on board and both are required for flight don't go if one won't start”. Conversely, it may read, “you’ve got two working toilets... go ahead and go if both of them are broken just stop serving coffee and avoid bumpy air.” When we go with “broken” items, they are “deferred” to be fixed at the next maintenance base and an orange sticker is placed near the inoperative item to remind us that flipping this switch may have no result.

Often, when I’m leaving the house with the baby, I make a quick inventory of the diaper bag and consider my options if I’m a short a few things. I’ve created my own Minimum Equipment List for quick errands that take me away from home base. “Two diapers required... only one needed if the trip is scheduled to be less than two hours in length and a bowel movement has occurred in the last three hours.”

Maybe I'll bring home some of those deferral stickers to place on inoperative items around the nursery. “Sorry, you pulled that noisemaker off the play mat and the book says it’s not required for flight. I’ve got seven days to get that fixed. Here’s a sticker.”

I’m thinking of installing a Flight Attendant Call button above the crib. This way, we can teach him to ring us when it’s time for a diaper change or a feeding rather than sounding the single alarm monitor regardless of severity. The button could be a simple chime that sounds throughout the house and is an easy arms length away from him. I may install a reading light and a gasper vent while I’m there to offer climate controls and a courtesy lamp. Rather than a bedtime read, I’ll just incorporate a cabin briefing into the routine, “For you convenience, a courtesy light is located above your crib next to the flight attendant call button. If you should accidental press your flight attendant call button, press it again to extinguish the light. No need cry wolf.”

Actually, I think I’ll shelf that idea next to the thermally actuated automatic fire suppression system I considering installing in the nursery. The button may train him from an early age to be a needy passenger that flight attendants hate dealing with. Some parents don't want a stinky kid. I don't want to raise a bad passenger. The courtesy light may give him the idea that these lights are always operational... when often they are not. Although, it would be a good lesson in Minimum Equipment Lists. “Sorry sir. The Captain (your father) has decided you don’t need a light. Deal with it! Here’s a sticker.”