Kids Archive

Travel Carseats: The Ultimate Guide to What You Want to Take on A Plane

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Flying with Children

Airplane -rf CCOIt’s a lucky parent who hasn’t had to travel by plane with a young child. Some minimalist parents have it down, but the rest of us use up every last cubic inch of space we’re allotted, stuffing it with things we might possibly need like hair ties, mismatched infant socks, carabiners, and Ziploc bags that get thrown out eventually. Think back to your last trip on a plane alone when there was a small child—what was that child doing? Standing on the parent’s lap screaming? Waving at uncomfortable adults who waved once but then wanted to disengage from the outgoing child? Were you trying to eke out that last bit of nap before descent when that screech jolted you out of slumberland? Did that parent look happy or like she was going to cry herself?

happy flyerKids have that natural tendency to want to move and explore their environments when they’re in their parents’ arms. Parents naturally provide a safe place for a child . . . everywhere except in a moving vehicle, which is what an airplane is. Most of us who have traveled with children and carseats can attest that our kids have been better behaved in their carseats and have found their carseats to be safe pods for them. When was the last time *you* were comfortable in an airplane seat, after all? Kids in harnessed carseats are protected against turbulence and against runway incidents, such as aborted takeoffs and landings, and overshots. And think about it: coffee pots and Coke cans are required to be secured during flight. Don’t our kids deserve the same respect?

04-13-15 incident

Can I take any harnessed carseat on the plane?

Maybe. It must have a sticker on it that says the carseat is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft. That part will be written in red ink so it’s easy to find. Your owner’s manual will also have this wording. Be prepared to show the sticker to a gate agent and/or flight attendant because they may ask to see it as you board the plane.

Pria 85 - FAA certification

Can I use a booster seat on the plane?

Let’s get our terminology down first. A booster seat is a belt-positioning booster used by older kids. It’s used only with a lap/shoulder vehicle seat belt. Since a commercial airplane doesn’t have a lap/shoulder seat belt, no, you cannot use a booster seat on the plane. A harnessed seat isn’t called a booster seat. If your seat has a harness that also can be used as a booster later on, we call that a “combination seat.” Most combination seats are approved for use on airplanes only when used with the harness; that’s because you can install it with the plane’s seat belt. You can, however, take your booster seat on the plane with you as carry-on luggage for your child to use in the car when you get to your destination. If you have a backless booster, it fits perfectly under the seat in front or in the overhead bin. If you have a folding booster, it fits in the overhead bin. If you have a booster where the back comes off, you can pack the back in your suitcase and carry the bottom on with you.

What are my rights regarding carseat use onboard an airplane?

We have an article that explains what you need to know. Also, know where the certification sticker is on your carseat and bring a healthy dose of patience. Between oddly intimate security searches, our knees being jammed into the seats in front of us, and man spread by guys in the center seat, flying saps the last bit of patience of everyone. Flight attendants receive very little to no training on carseats on aircraft, so the best tactic is one of “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” If there’s confusion, it’s OK to show them the carseat owner’s manual and smile. Remember that they can (and have in the past) remove ticketed passengers from flights.

How far should I push the rear-facing issue?

If you’ve been online at all, you’ve heard of travelers who have had problems rear-facing their kiddos: the flight attendant misinterpreted the flight attendant handbook, which requires carseats to be installed on forward-facing passenger seats, and they had to turn their 3 mo. old forward-facing. At some point you pick your battle with the flight attendant (with a smile–remember, he or she is just doing their job) and the likelihood that something catastrophic will happen is slim. Turning an 18 mo old forward-facing on a plane probably isn’t going to end the world. If you’re still unsure, I suppose you could whip this regulatory requirement out.

What are the best travel carseats?

The Pinch Test

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How do you know if your harness is tight enough? Give it the Pinch Test.

Pinch TestYour child won’t be safe in his carseat unless his harness is snug. The Pinch Test is the accepted method for testing harness tightness.

An outdated method for checking tightness is to stick a finger (or two) under the harness at the shoulder, but because we all have different finger sizes, it can lead to very a loose harness.

It’s never been acceptable to “pinch an inch” of harness for tightness.

 

The Not So Angry Vitamin

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Natrol offered CarSeatBlog a chance to review some vitamins, and given my kiddo is usually down to try just about anything, I took them up on the offer.

A few weeks later a package with two bottles arrived in the mail. Liam was jumping up and down because of course he loves playing Angry Birds on the iPad and these vitamins just so happen to be Angry Birds themed.

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I got two different bottles, one containing vitamin gummies and the other containing vitamin chews.
The gummies came in a red bottle with 60 gummies per bottle. It retails for about $5.99 at Amazon.com. Kids are to chew 2 gummies a day, which of course Liam had no problem with. They taste great (yes, I had to try them too!) and don’t stick to teeth as much as your run of the mill gummy treat so I like that aspect since anything gummy related usually makes me cringe. I typically avoid gummy vitamins altogether but these really weren’t bad as far as stickiness goes! They don’t contain as many minerals as the chews do, but have higher amounts of the ones they do contain. They are sweetened and colored with fruit juice extracts. They do contain tree nuts (from fractionated coconut oil) but are free of egg, fish, shellfish, wheat, peanuts, soy, yeast, and artificial colors or flavors.

The chews came in a big blue bottle with a count of 180. They retail for about $6.95 at Amazon.com. These are the more classic chewable vitamin, with a light berry flavor. They have more of the typical vitamin taste- I believe it’s probably the iron, which the gummies do not contain. Liam ate them no problem, and I didn’t find them offensive in the least. The instructions are to chew 3 tablets daily, which is quite a bit considering they are on the larger side in the first place. Plus 180 seems like a lot but you have to remember you’re taking 3 a day. However, it’s still about 60 days worth of vitamins for just over $20 so that’s still pretty darn good for a quality multivitamin! The chews contain additional B1, B2, B3, K, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, manganese, and molybdenum, all of which the gummies do not contain. They also contain beet root powder, artichoke extract, bilberry extract, carrot powder, and cranberry extract. They are free of milk, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, yeast, and any artificial colors or flavors. They do contain wheat, but are a good choice for those with peanut or tree nut allergies!

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All in all, we liked them. I do wish they contained more whole food additives since we try to avoid most synthetic vitamins but they were much better than typical mainstream vitamins you pick up at the drugstore. I also wish the B12 was methylcobalamin instead of synthetic cyanocobalamin, but to be fair, it is very difficult to find methylcobalamin in most supplements. They tasted great, are fun for the kids (who doesn’t like an Angry Bird?), won’t empty your wallet, and are easy to obtain. Plus they came with a fun little bird prize that unfortunately had to go live on top of the refrigerator so our vacuum, I mean baby, doesn’t suck it into his esophagus.

Thank you to Natrol for the sample bottles and the chance to review the vitamins! This review and all opinions are entirely my own and myself or CarSeatBlog were not provided any monetary compensation from Natrol.

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Where do they grow these giant kids?

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Boost_Til_8We’ve all seen it before. I’m talking about the information in pamphlets and flyers regarding kids and booster seats. Most read like this: Kids should remain in booster seats until they are at least 8 years old, unless they are 4’9″ tall.

Excuse me? I don’t know where this age 8 came from but where I live we don’t see too many kids who are almost 5 feet tall at 8 years or younger. I’m sure they’re out there but seriously, most 2nd and 3rd Graders are NOT the size of small adults. So what gives?

Honestly, I have no idea why it’s so common to see age 8 listed as the “magic number” when kids can graduate to the adult seatbelt. Yes, I realize that it often says “at least 8″ but trust me when I say that it’s not the “at least” part that most parents remember. Most don’t even remember the 4’9″ part of the message. So where does that magic #8 come from? They sure aren’t referencing the CDC growth charts!

Maybe it’s a social change thing. We’re still getting a lot of parents used to the idea that their 6 and 7-year-olds need a booster. Perhaps we’re worried that we’ll turn them off completely and they’ll think we’re all nuts if we tell them the truth. And age 8 seems like a reasonable number for most parents to ditch the booster seat, right?

8 year old still needs a booster!

Wrong.

Most 8-year-old kids do not fit safely in the adult seatbelt of most vehicles. Sure, there are always exceptions, like some 3rd row seats which are clearly designed with smaller people in mind. But generally speaking, most kids do not actually pass the 5-Step Test until they are at least 57″ (4’9″ tall). For many kids even 57″ tall isn’t tall enough to get optimal belt fit.

Now, let’s have a look at those handy-dandy CDC growth charts. An 8-year-old boy who measures in the 95th percentile for both weight and height is 35kg (77 lbs) and 54″ tall.  And an 8-year-old boy who measures in the 50th percentile for weight and height is 25kg (55 lbs) and 50″ tall. According to the growth charts – a boy who measures in the 95th percentile for height won’t hit 4’9″ (57″) until he is 9 years old. That kid in the 50th percentile won’t get there until he’s 11. And a kid in the 10th percentile for height will be 13 before they reach 4’9″.

So I’d like to know where they grow these huge 8-year-olds that everyone seems to be referencing? We know that we’re failing epically at keeping kids in boosters until they are really big enough to fit properly in the adult seatbelt but maybe our “helpful” literature and awareness campaigns are partially to blame? I think it’s time to ditch all references to 8-year-olds and move to something more realistic like 10-12.