Sounds good, except the FAA has not made this a rule. They could order airlines and passengers to do this, but they haven't. What's even stranger is, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), another federal agency but one that's independent from the Dept. of Transportation (unlike the FAA), is currently pushing its Child and Youth Transportation Safety Initiative which would require "separate seats and restraints for all airplane occupants, and requiring children younger than 2 to be restrained by an appropriate child restraint system during air travel." However, the NTSB has no authority to make this law; they simply investigate accidents, see the results and - come up with initiatives like this one.
As more than one flight attendant has noted, if adults have to be belted in securely during rare but violent bursts of turbulence, why not kids? But maybe a better question is will parents pay full price for another plane seat if they don't have to? A final question: If parents did have to pay for lap-children, would some choose to drive instead of fly, which is statistically far more dangerous? I'll leave this one to the safety experts - and to you and your own common sense.
Meanwhile, there are a couple of things that can be done about screaming babies on planes. One mother I know follows Ogden Nash school of thought (as in "Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker") which means whenever her little one acts up, she buys nearby passengers a round of drinks.
Former flight attendant Taylor says when he saw passengers giving the fish-eye to tots-in-tantrum, he just started passing out headphones and that's always worked for me. If you ever see an oblivious, smiling man in the midst of a decibel-shattering scream-fest, that'll be me with the Bose headphones securely clamped on my dome.
The opinions expressed by Rick Seaney are his alone and not those of ABC News.