Flying with your baby may be challenging enough with luggage, possible outbursts and passenger judgments, but what about safety precautions? Current Federal Aviation Administration regulations allow children under the age of 2 to fly free if they’re sitting in an adult’s lap, but the debate has been circling for years about whether or not this is safe?
If small children have to be buckled in the car going an average of 10–60 mph, why not in an airplane cruising at 550–600 mph? As per the FAA rules and regulations, it is completely reasonable for parents and guardians to hold their young ones sans seatbelt in flight. What about in the case of extreme turbulence? It’s a safety concern to consider, and the FAA does strongly encourage parents and guardians to secure young children using a child restraint system.
Similar to a car seat, a CRS is a hard-backed safety seat for children to sit in in their own seat on the plane. Complete with a secure harness safety buckle, children are snuggly secured into their own seat, forward facing. However, this requires the purchase of a ticket.
For slightly older children weighing between 22–44 pounds, the FAA recommends the CARES Child Safety Device. This government-approved harness restraint is a more flexible seating arrangement for those who do not like the hard-shell back of the CRS. The CARES device uses a range of belt configurations to strap the child securely in their chair and restrain them against the softer back of the airplane seat.
Although these devices are similar to your everyday child safety car seat, most of those devices are not within FAA regulations to bring on the flight. Rather than lug your home safety devices on your next flight, check the FAA site and airline site for more information.
Check out the FAA’s site for tips, tricks and advice on the various child safety procedures. Watch installation videos and get familiarized with the various products before your next trip.
For children with special needs, there is an entire section devoted to their safety and personal interests. Be sure to check with your specific airline on whether or not they accept the use of these devices or have some on loan for your flight.