Last summer, we boarded a plane with a tiny little baby to head to Cape Cod. This summer, though, we have a wiggly 23-pound toddler whose middle name is determined. Thanks to a quick flight when he was about 12 months old, I knew there was no way we could manage holding him in our laps for another flight, even though he could technically ride there for free until he is two. About the time I started thinking about our summer travel plans, I became increasingly aware of the recommendation that children under two have their own seat and also ride in an FAA approved car seat.
The American Association of Pediatrics has these recommendations, and the FAA doesn't mince words in outlining the safest way for a child to fly. So, we opted to buy three ticketed seats this year instead of two. Let me tell you, I've heard all kinds of things about this decision: it's too expensive, I've never seen a kid in a car seat on a plane, the carseat is too heavy, etc.
Despite these, I still feel it is the right thing to do...after all the stewardess stows the coffeepot, you're asked to secure your electronics and keep your seatbelt buckled when seated, but a baby can be precariously balanced on your lap with no restraint? Doesn't make sense. Most of us wouldn't think twice about not securing our children in a car going 65mph, so why don't we think it is necessary to secure them going 150mph down the runway? #endsoapbox :)
I did concede to the fact that our favorite convertible carseat was way too bulky and heavy to lug through the airport, so I started the search for an inexpensive, lightweight, but still recommended car seat. The best resource I found was Car Seats for the Littles. In addition to the great resources on their website, they have an active Facebook group with certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians volunteering to answer questions. I listed my child's height, weight, and the uses I needed for the seat and got a great recommendation on a $40 seat that weights just eight pounds and is 17.5 inches wide, perfect for air travel (much more manageable than our 25-pound regular car seat!).
With the safety details behind us, it's now time to start planning to ensure our trip goes as well as possible with details like entertainment and snacks! What tips do you have for flying with a toddler? Be sure to check back in August and I'll let you know how it went and what worked for us, until then, safe travels!