It’s almost summer – and that means many families are getting ready to hit the road or skies for family trips! Incorrectly installed car seats are the leading cause of death in children under 12. Parents often wonder how to better install car seats in their own cars as well as when traveling in rentals cars, taxis and planes.
This week, we held a highly informative and very important teleclass on travel safety for babies and toddlers, expertly facilitated by Sarah Tilton and generously sponsored by BRITAX. Sarah covered such topics as car seat safety in your own car as well as rental cars, general car seats safety, most common mistakes and misconceptions with car seats, riding safely with babies/children in taxi cabs and buses, traveling on airplanes, and best products and tips for traveling.
In case you missed it, you can listen to the recorded class HERE.
For your ongoing reference and support, here are some links that Sarah shared during the class:
Mommybites newborn expert, Dr. Gina Lamb Amato, mirrored what Sarah Tilton said about travel safety for babies:
While there is no hard and fast rule about when you can take a baby on a plane, it’s usually recommended unnecessary air travel during the first 2 to 4 weeks of life, when your baby is still adjusting to life outside the uterus. Air travel exposes infants to lots of people and their microbes (germs), especially in recirculated cabin air. However, newborns can travel if needed and are usually fine.
The hardest part of traveling with an infant is the preparation more than the flight itself. Infants can experience ear pain because fluctuations in cabin pressure can cause temporary changes in middle ear, which can be painful. Sucking helps equalize the pressure in ears; therefore, you should breast or bottle-feed your baby during the plane’s ascent and descent.
When traveling with a baby, it’s important to use a child safety seat that’s properly installed and secured in a seat next to yours. Most child safety seats are certified for air travel. American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child is best protected on an airplane when properly restrained in a car safety seat appropriate for the age, weight and height of the child, meeting standards for aircraft until the child weighs more than 40 pounds and can use the aircraft seatbelt. You can also consider using a restraint made only for use on an airplane and approved by the FAA.
Wash your hands frequently and bring hand sanitizer to prevent illnesses during travel. Consult your pediatrician before flying with a newborn or infant who has chronic heart or lung problems, with upper or lower respiratory symptoms, or if flying within two weeks of an ear infection or ear surgery.
Finally, make sure you take enough baby supplies – especially bottles – if you are not breastfeeding.
We also asked some of the Mommybites team for some great traveling ideas for keeping toddlers occupied on a plane or car trip:
Parenting Expert, Marsha Greenberg
Traveling with a toddler can be tough if it is a long trip, but here are some ideas to help:
Bring masking tape. Let your toddler unroll it, stick it on the seat in front of you or the car window. Wad it into balls and let them throw them around: it’s great fun! If you are flying, you can also use the airplane tray and help your toddler make tape tracks to use with some special toy cars you bring out just for this occasion.
An empty oatmeal box is a great cave for little animals: play peek a boo, where is the squirrel?, or tell a story about where the animals hide. Cut out a small door for more interest, especially with an older toddler.
Put some clear contact paper on the window and hand your toddler a bag of pom poms in mixed sizes. They will be able to stick them up and pull them down over and over – they can even throw them against the contact paper and they should stick.
Bring along a puppet. Use the puppet to be silly, sneeze or hide. Or, if you are on an airplane, take your toddler and puppet on a walk. Let the puppet look for something – maybe an elephant or a dog. Toddlers love these imaginary games.
Mommybites Mom, Katie Gilbert
With all our extended family living a car or plane ride away, we have traveled a LOT with babies and toddlers! Sadly and fortunately, technology has changed our traveling in the just the past year, with the option of constant entertainment from the rear DVD player, an i-Phone, or an i-Pad. However, we didn’t always have those things, and we do feel the need to limit their tech time during travel, resorting back to the classic ways to be entertained.
Food is our number one go-to! We pack lots of snacks, from apple slices and grapes, to gummy bunnies and pretzels – all placed in snack traps to avoid huge messes. Books are always great for plane rides and can be read over and over again. Our Etchesketch is always a crowd favorite for long car rides too, and if we have two adults in the car, we practice our letters, numbers and short words. And just recently, we were excited to teach our daughter the classic “I Spy” game!
Mommybites team, Elise Jones
We have traveled quite a bit with our children since they were newborns. We have found it is really important to be prepared. Here are some of the ideas we have used for entertainment on planes and long car trips:
Pipe cleaners (fun to make things with and can bring cheerios to string on them to make jewelry); new magic marker coloring book (with those markers that don’t write on anything but the special paper); wrapped small gifts (dollar store finds wrapped in fun paper); great snacks and drinks (bring something new you know they’ll love); movie players (pick a new movie or show they’ve never seen) and books (bring favorites and something new).
It also helps to give them their own rolling bag to pack all of these items in so they can feel like a big boy or girl walking through the airport and/or hotel. Understand that they like to move at this age, and it is important to take breaks and walk around. Talk about what you see, strike up a conversation with a amiable stranger and discuss societal manners when in this new situation. Everything’s a learning experience!
Sarah Tilton is the Child Passenger Safety Advocate for BRITAX Child Safety, Inc. As an active CPS Technician (2002 and Instructor (2004), Sarah is the spokesperson for BRITAX within the advocacy community participating in child passenger safety activities at a local, state and national level. Sarah serves on the new product development, technical writing and marketing teams at BRITAX. In addition, she managed and developed the training curriculum for the BRITAX Consumer Services department and organized and implemented a permanent checking station at BRITAX during 12+ years with the company. Sarah is currently active with the Safe Kids South Carolina, Safe Kids York County (SC), Safe Kids North Carolina, and Charlotte Mecklenburg (NC) coalitions. She is also a member of the NC Child Passenger Safety Training Committee and the National Child Passenger Safety Board representing the At Large population and the Vice-Chair of the Manufacturers Alliance for Child Passenger Safety.
The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.