Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lap Child, Car Seat, Seatbelt....OH MY

In preparation for that upcoming trip I mentioned in my last blog entry I started turning the house upside down looking for my daughter's seatbelt for our flight. Seatbelt? - you ask. A little back story needed here.

My husband is 6'3". I am 5'9". My husband has family members as tall as 6'8". So my children are at the top of the height curves. How I would love to have had them as FREE lap children until age 3 cut-off....especially as of today when American Airlines announced they will charge for your FIRST checked bag in the wake of the high fuel costs. But my daughter had her first paid seat at 16months and my son at 14months. Lap children that are nearly 3ft before age not only severely uncomfortable, but also a trial in patience I did not want to engage.

Then when it came time to move to car seats...well, our car seats are the Britax Marathon. That means among the highest rated for safety, but I would also dare to say the highest in weight. So when it came to the first trip in their own seats I went out and referred to American Academy of Pediatric Car Seat Guide as well as the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to purchase another car seat. I was on the hunt...for an affordable (dare I say cheap), light, yet, highly rated and FAA-approved car seat. Yes, I was a little shaken about not taking my Britax, however I was going with the odds. I've always heard most accidents happen within a few miles of home. And I did a great, highly rated, super light car seat for ~$50. We even put a baby shower gift to the test which was a car seat travel bag. Honestly, they are great and have come a long way since our first one which just had a shoulder strap. Our latest one has wheels as well as shoulder strap and backpack straps. These can also be used to check car seats once your child is old enough to sit in the airline seat versus having the airline put them in their plastic bag.

Which speaking of...I learned last year that in August 2005 the FAA stopped requiring children be in CRS's (Child Restraint System...or fancy acronym for FAA approved car seats, etc). However, they highly recommend a CRS is used and I agree for safety and well my sanity as it keeps my child from wriggling everywhere. So once my daughter's legs were falling asleep due to length or annoying the person in front of her because they were a little busy we moved on to a CARES (Child Aviation Restraint System). It's a great system that is used with the existing airline seat belt creating a harness similar to their 5 point car seat which she was already accustomed. It has a usability range of 1yr and 22lbs upwards to 4 years and 44lbs and 40 inches. It's 1lb and fits into a little stuff sack which can go in your...or into your child's carry-on. We love it...and most of my friends who do a decent amount of air travel have asked us about it and have gone on to purchase one.

For more information about traveling with children on planes check out the FAA's website.


Anonymous said...

Love the site! The CARES thing is awesome - Mike is going to rejoice about not having to lug our 2 Britax's throughout the airport for every trip now - now we can just check them, and bring the CARES with us. What a great suggestion!

Anonymous said...

Great site, and thanks for the info! Another nugget I've learned for those with infants: We have always flown Southwest, and we're even more loyal now that we have a little one. We have flown four times with our 4-month-old, and we take her on as a lap baby. Instead of checking her carseat, we bring it to the gate to gate-check. If there are any open seats on the plane, the gate agent will let you bring your infant carseat on board. Of our 8 legs, we have been able to bring our infant seat on board for 6. It is very handy to have a seat for the baby, especially one we didn't pay for!