EVERY human on a flight deserves protection – especially babies & toddlers. Your arms, a carrier (like a Baby Bjorn or Ergo), or the bassinet on a long haul flight can NOT hold a child during turbulence or worse… but a car seat can. A child on your lap can easily fly out of your arms in rough turbulence and hit their head on the overhead bins. Surprisingly, many plane crashes are survivable. This 3 year old was the only survivor of a plane crash – and was found uninjured in the wreckage, hanging upside down in her car seat.
A recent study found that lap infants were much more likely to suffer an in-flight injury than children who had their own seat on the plane. “Examples of in-flight injuries included burns, contusions, and lacerations from falls in unrestrained lap infants; fallen objects from the overhead bin; and trauma to extremities by the service cart or aisle traffic.” By virtue of requiring kids to sit next to the window (so they don’t block an adult’s exit to the aisle) AND having a restraint the child can’t climb out of, car seats automatically prevent much of these in-flight injuries. For example, kids in car seats can not get their hands or feet hurt by the service cart or aisle traffic, can’t have things fall on them from the overhead bin, and can’t fall off an adults’ lap. Burns are also much less likely to a child in a car seat as they are far away from the service cart and no one will be passing hot liquid over them to another passenger.
You will usually need your car seat to get to and from the airport safely. Kids who don’t ride in a car seat on the airplane, often don’t ride in a car seat on the ride to or from the airport – which is exceptionally dangerous (and usually illegal too). Also, you are more likely to install a car seat properly if it is one you are familiar with – not a random rental car seat from Hertz or one you borrow from Grandma’s friend Betty.
If you check your child’s car seat – even gate checking it – it can get lost or broken as it goes the same place the luggage does. If your car seat gets lost or broken, your child likely won’t be able to leave the airport safely, a trip which usually involves highway driving.
Have you ever tried to hold a toddler on your lap at a restaurant or sporting event? It often feels like holding a flipper whale on your lap!
Most kids can’t climb out of their car seats. But, even a 9-month-old will quickly figure out how to open the airplane seat belt and then play a fun game of standing up and pulling the hair of the person in front… sure to endear you with your fellow passengers.
Check out our travel toy guide for babies, toddlers, and big kids – you’ll find 100+ screen-free ways to keep kids entertained.
Children are more comfortable in the car seat since it is familiar and just their size. The fact that your child can’t climb out of the car seat makes it more likely they’ll go to sleep when it’s nap-time or bedtime during the flight – for the same reason toddlers sleep in cribs and not beds that they can climb out of! And when your child goes to sleep, you can go to sleep too!
When in a moving car or a moving plane the car seat is the safest place to be for any child – of any age, awake or asleep. Even on a 12+ hour flight we want kids – including infants – in a car seat while awake and asleep. You might be tempted to loosen baby’s car seat straps on a long flight – especially if baby is going to sleep. Make sure you keep baby buckled snug – as loose and partially buckled straps introduce the risks of strangulation and asphyxiation. Co-sleeping on flights has the same risks as it does on a couch or your bed at home. Kids in car seats have their own safe place to sleep and aren’t at risk of being dropped or suffocated by an adult rolling on top of them.