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Flying with a toddler in a car seat(24 Posts)
I'm going to be flying on my own with DD who will be just 2 and DS who will be 3 months. It's just a short flight and I've booked a seat for DD so I was starting to convince myself it might not be too bad.
I've been trying to think how to make the logistics easier so I was planning on having DS in the sling and DD in the maclaren up to the plane. We don't need car seats when we get there so thought that would be ok but when I started googling for any tips, there seemed to be lots about putting toddlers in a car seat for the flight? Is this the done thing? I don't think I've ever seen a toddler on a flight in a car seat. If this is what you're supposed to do, l'd need a new car seat because ours are rear facing but it seems crazy to buy one for a 1 hour flight!
You certainly don't have to but it can be a useful form of restraint (toddlers can easily slip out of a plane harness) and also it is much safer for them HOWEVER if your own seats won't fit then instead of buying a new one consider a CARES harness which is excellent for both restraint and safety, is small and light and easy to carry. About £150 but high resale value.
My ds is nearly 3 so having his own seat this time when we go away at Easter but I won't be taking a car seat. Ours weighs a ton and I'm not hauling it around an airport with luggage, a baby etc etc.
I have never seen a toddler in a car seat on a plane either and can't think if an advantage other than restraint. I'm planning on using electronic devises and bribery to restrain him!
Thanks Nightfall, I'll look into it. I don't want her to be unsafe, I just hadn't considered it wasn't safe! There's no way I could manage toddler in pushchair, baby in sling, hand luggage and a car seat through the airport so it would have to be the harness or nothing really.
Chipmunk iPad and snacks all the way for DD that day!
You can rent a cares haress which might be a better option if you don't fly often.
Thanks Mami, I'll look into it. We might fly once or twice a year so it might be worth buying if DS will use it as well in the future.
I'm even more confused about this now! There are lots of good points for the CARES harness but then also comments that the child can still slip through. Would my DD be too small for it? She's not small, about 12.5kg when we last checked.
Then I could get a forward facing seat that is approved for flying for cheaper than the CARES. But how on earth do I get it around the airport?
And how do I fit either of these with a 3 month old baby as well?
I also keep reading that toddlers have to sit on a lap for take off and landing, but surely I can't do that with a baby as well? I'm sure the airline policy states that one adult can travel with a child and an infant but I will ring to check.
If a child is under 24 months they must sit on your lap for take-off and landing. If they are over 24 months they must be belted into their own seat for take off and landing. I tried to keep my 25 month old on my lap when she was nearly asleep once, but no, definitely not allowed.
So you would not be able to fly alone with two under two, but you are not.
The seatbelt on a plane is afaik to stop you from hitting the ceiling if the plane suddenly drops due turbulance. Nothing to do with forwards motion like in a car. If you do it up tightly enough then your child won't slip out. I once didn't realise my 3 year old dd only had ber seatbelt on very loosely (i swapped seats with dp halfway through the flight). As we braked on landing she went flying forward in the seat, but she was still contained by the seatbelt iyswim.
You don't need a carseat on a plane. Imo.
Car seats on planes seems to be a US thing. I really don't get it. I fly a lot and have never seen it but I've heard of people doing it. It seems like far more trouble than it's worth. We flew with my just two year old last summer. We took snacks and a loaded iPad. It was great!
I think you are a bit confused about 'toddler must sit on your lap' if the child is over two they must sit in their own seat. Under twos can sit in there own seat, including for take off and landing provided you have a suitable car seat or CARES.
RE The CARES, I have only positive things to say about it. We've used one for DS since he was about 18 months and he is pretty small - 9th centile for height and weight - and very, very secure in it. He is 4 now but well under the weight limit for cares (which is 20kg max) so went in it when we flew this weekend - still a great fit.
I really wouldn't consider taking a car seat whilst battling with two DC and luggage unless you actually need it for the car personally.
Oh, and the CARES can and will stop the child from moving forwards in there seat on impact - unlike the normal airline seatbelt as PP mentions.
I did exactly this trip in Feb, with the added complication of a tiny plane so my toddler was across the aisle. It was fine. Toddler belted in and bribed with CBeebies mag and copious snacks handed over slowly; lots of smiling at fellow passengers while waiting at the gate so had several people carry my carry-on bag down the stairs to the plane and helping toddler keep up; baby in sling til I sat down then on my lap for duration. It was a million times easier than I thought it was going to be. People were kind but I found it better to be clear about what help I wanted ie could please pop my bag in the locker. Air hostess was lovely as well. Only drama was a loo trip with all three of us (literally the tiniest loo I have ever seen and had to balance baby in the handbasin).
Thanks all, think I'm definitely overthinking this now!
Nightfall I keep reading about people being made to sit their over 2s on their lap for take off and handing. I thought it was ok for an over 2 to sit in their own seat. And DD will be over 2 by 6 days! I'll consider the cares though, thank you for the info.
Caz I'm definitely worried about the toilet situation. Thanks for the baby in sink tip!
And I thought this was going to be easier than a 2 day drive!
If I was on a plane and someone had a two year old and a baby I wouldn't mind holding the baby if they needed the toilet. I wouldn't mind keeping an eye on the toddler either if they were not distressed by mum leaving them to change baby's nappy. You'll have to hope that the the people around you like kids. Good luck!
As you have correctly realised lugging your children a buggy and a carseat through the airport is undoable.
Definitely don't need a car seat for the baby on the plane, you'd need to buy and extra seat for it. I think it would be worth considering on a long flight to free up your lap but on a short flight baby just goes on your lap and 2yo in her own seat.
Be aware some airports (including Heathrow) don't give you your buggy at the gate on return journey. That can come as a bit of a shock when travelling alone with small DC.
You don't get your buggy back until baggage reclaim which can be a long walk - but most airports do have buggies that you can use right at the arrival gate so have a trolley toekn/pound coin/ euro with you in case
We do London to Sydney every year and have done since DS was six weeks, never used or seen a car seat, although have heard the suggestion. Our AU car seat would be illegal in the U.K. And vice versa, all that heavy hassle when they are fine just to sit, you are right there next to them and they won't end up on the floor
Short haul (<6hr) I wouldn't worry but long haul I've taken our car seat each time (17m and 2.6y), facing both rearwards and forwards. DS was secured using the car seat harness which meant he couldn't escape if I fell asleep, he was more comfortable and slept better in his car seat, it was familiar etc.
You do need a seat that is secured by a seatbelt (ie. not isofix only) and if you want rear facing you need to be in a bulkhead row as otherwise the seat might not fit.
As for travelling through the airport, I just used the seat strapped to a fold up dolly trolley using a man's belt. It was secure and DS was strapped into the seat. The trolley folded up and went into overhead bin for travel.
DH is lucky, he has never flown long haul with DS, it's always been me alone and so I would do whatever it takes to make life easier.
Don't be afraid to ask for assistance to get through security and at the gate when you are checking in, or beforehand if your airline offers it online.
Thanks Panda and Tea. I'd forgotten we didn't get our buggy back when we previously flew with DD. I might ask them if there's anyway I can have it back. Otherwise DD will just have to walk!
I have definitely abandoned any thoughts of car seats. Ours are ERF and isofix and I don't want to buy a new one for such a short flight. And I definitely don't want to drag it round the airport!
I've done many long hauls with toddlers and babies and have never used a car seat. I do check them in as luggage (they are always carried for free) as it's great to have them readily available at the other end.
I think I saw some buggies supplies by the airport last time I traveled at Gatwick - but you cannot rely on there being anything at gate. (memories of carrying sleeping 2yo on hip, plus hand luggage from further est away gate at Heathrow after 26 hours flying - ug! )
We've flown a lot with the DD's (now 3 and 20 months) and since turning 2 DD1 has always been in her own seat for take off and landing.
I'm in the US and opinions here are that your child is safest in their car seat on a plane than on your lap. Talking about under 2s though. Over 2 would need their own seat anyway.
I flew alone back to the UK with DS when he was 14 months and bought him a seat and used car seat. The thought of him wriggling on my knee for 8 hours was awful, and it worked great. He was strapped in and perfectly happy. For the airport I had a dolly that basically turned the car seat into a stroller.
In your situation I wouldn't take one though
If you are on your own with them i wouldn't bother with car seat. Not required for over twos and while car seat might be safer my opinion is that chances of plane crash not high and if it does a seat isn't going to help much. Also the seat needs to be air approved by CAA and ff.
I had to take one when i flew with my twins when they were under two as under twos must be in one. It was a pain to lug round airport before flight and then they didn't bring my buggy to steps and i was left trying to struggle off plane with twins, seat, and bags (luckily kind souls took pity!).
Can be hard getting toddlers to stay in seat for take off and landing - i heavily recommend exciting snacks!
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