Airplane Travel with 15-Month-old

Updated on June 24, 2010
K.P. asks from Babylon, NY
12 answers

I have two questions about traveling with my 15-month old on an airplane. We purchased a seat for him on the airplane (he needs the restraint to sit still!) We were planning on just bringing his car seat to strap him in, but now I'm wondering if we should consider spending the money on either the adapter that turns the baby's car seat into a stroller or one of those CARES airplane safety straps. They are both quite expensive so I was wondering if anyone has any experience (positive or negative) with any of those options.

Also, does anyone have any tips or suggestions of things to bring on the plane to keep him occupied? It's so hard to find toys for little ones that keep them interested and are small, but don't make a lot of noise. Obviously we're going to bring snacks and drinks, and I also plan to bring a portable DVD player- but those things only last so long!

Thanks so much for any ideas!

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answers from New York on

I have the Cares and never used it. Waste of money.
I just got back from a trip with my daughters, 4 and 2. I thought my 2 year old would never sit still in the seat, but at the last minute I decided to not take her car seat (I went alone) and it worked out just fine.
I looked into all these options before going. I read that the car seat adapter is really just a luggage cart, which you can buy cheaper. There's also a product that allows you to wear the car seat like a backpack if that's something you're interested in.
Everyone else has written good ideas about what to bring as far as toys. Snacks are the best. One thing I's really annoying when all the little toys fall on the floor. One thing I wish I had doen was bring triangular crayons instead of the regular

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answers from New York on

There is a whole website devoted to your question, Product reviews, activities, etc.

I traveled for 5 hours with my toddler in his Roundabout (installed rearfacing) and he was very comfortable. Bring little toys that you can secure to your wrist (like a ball with holes), nothing he will throw and will be hard for you to find. He also loved playing with a half empty bottle of water, securely closed.

Never travel with a child in your lap, even if airlines allow it. Everything in a plane - passangers, carry ons, trays, etc is strapped in for a reason - in case of turbulance or worse you can crush your baby or he will fly out of your arms. To put it into perspective, it's like holding your baby on your lap while you're in a car - except you're going at 500 mph.

The CARES harness is good but better for an older child. At 15 months, he may be too small for it. It's easy to bring your car seat (check that it's FAA approved in the manual or on the car seat itself), board a little earlier, and have your spouse buy the seat in front of baby's car seat in case the seat in fron can't recline. For tips on install, search "Roundabout" on amazon, I posted several customer pics.

For lugging the car seat, try the innovative "Traveling Toddler Car Seat Travel Accessory" sold on amazon - it's tiny, affordable, and it really works.

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answers from New York on

FYI - Because you bought the seat, your son will need to be strapped into it at takeoff (unless you have a really sympathetic flight attendant). It doesn't matter that he is young enough to sit in your lap. Whether you use his car seat or CARES or just the seatbelt is up to you.

Make sure the stickers on the bottom of the carseat state that it is approved for airplanes, I only had one flight attendant ever call me out on this (and I was convinced I had bought an airline-approved model until he showed me otherwise). I had to gate check the seat and my daughter flew without it - one of the few times she "really wanted" to sit in her seat.

You can check when you know what airline and plane you are flying. It has information on which seats (if any) have power points - so you can plug in the DVD player. In addition, bring a favorite stuffed animal or comfort item to cuddle with, and several different toys (that aren't likely to roll or bounce) to keep him occupied. I would also buy one new little thing (could be a happy meal toy) just so it is something he can be excited about.

When you do select your seats, if you have the option of selecting "bulkhead seats" these are nice IF you are using the carseat. If you are not, I wouldn't choose them, because the trays fold between the seats, so he can't lift the armrest and lay across your lap. seatguru will also give you the positives and negatives of the different seats on the plane.

Happy traveling!

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answers from New York on

If you'll need a car seat when you get there, why not just bring your own. The baby will be used to it and probably more comfortable. Also last time I flew, The baby could check on his stroller for free with the luggage. This way you save a lot of money and the baby has his own things. For the plane ride we bought him a back pack he could carry and filled it with brought books to read to him,and little toys, not too many though, I dont know how long your flight will be but you dont want to have to clean up a thousand things. A few new toys is best. Have a great trip!

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answers from Dallas on

I traveled a lot with my little guy the first year or so of his life, so I got that go-kidz thing and it was very helpful. I actually carried my son in the Ergo babycarrier through the airport and wheeled the seat along - I put my backback & diaper bag in the seat and pulled it along.

If you're traveling a lot, it would be worth getting.

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answers from New York on

We live in Switzerland and purchased the CARES harness for my now 26 month old. We used it for her when she was 14 months because she absolutely hated her car seat. I have a 10 month old and we also used it for her on our last trip back to the US. I love it! They both were so excited to sit in their own seats. I guess it depends on whether or not your son will sit in the car seat.

As far as things to do, we always pack a backpack for each child filled with new things. They don't get them until we get on the plane. Stickers, post it notes, and blank notebooks are really good. We bring crayons and last time we brought playdough (don't know if that will make it thru security, ours did but I guess you have to be ready to toss it if necessary). Plain white paper is always fun because it makes noise and you can draw on it or fold it to make fun stuff. A favorite book or stuffed animal is also good. Good luck with the flight!

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answers from New York on

We have used the CARES several times and like it a lot. The first time we used it we rented it, so we could see if we liked it enough to buy it. You might want to try that. There are a couple people renting them through eBay. We used this one:

and it worked out great.

Good luck,

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answers from New York on

it really depends on your child and their age. last summer we went to europe with our 18 month old. he sat in his car seat and slept for most of the flight. no problems. i also had CARES just in case. he was too small to fit into it! i LOVE the go-go baby (the wheelie thing that goes onto the car seat) if you bring your car seat- u must have it. it is so easy to wheel around.
we brought crayons, stacking cups, books, favorite blankie, dvds for the plane. good luck- enjoy your trip
also- i do want to add though- a few months ago we went on a shorter flight to the DR. (he was 2 at the time) this trip he wanted no part of that car seat. he threw a fit and we were stuck sitting next to a car seat and holding him the whole time. it really depends on your child. i think at 15 months a car seat is a great idea because 1-they are too small to sit in the seat and safely be constrained, and 2- they haven't hit the terrible 2's and a world of temper tantrums yet. at age 2 (terrible 2's!) you may not want the car seat. on the way home we checked the car seat at the gate and let him lie down across us, try to sit in his seat. he was still acting up even without the car seat so i think it's his age.
my advice for this trip- take the car seat and get the go go baby!



answers from New York on

We traveled with a 4 mo old and a 2 1/2 yr old. I actually didn't take a carseat on the plane because they didn't require it. He was strapped in. I was fortunate that my 4 mo old was able to have a bassinet. ( They have weight requirements.) I did take both strollers..umbrella type and a convertible type. A family member had a toddler seat in Portugal so it was one less thing to carry. Mind you, we were 3 adults traveling oversees for about 8 hours for 3 weeks. My poor husband. We were exhausted...and cranky by the end of it but it was still worth it.

I took the DVD and snacks, and prayed that they would fall asleep. It was overnight so it helped ever so slightly. It was hard though. I wish I could give you good advice. Try to rest before the trip and remember that you are going to be tired. Your baby will not be himself most likely. He's not going to be in his element. He's going to sense your mood as well.

Good Luck.. You will have a great time... the plane will become a distant memory after you get there. Hopefully, he'll be ok.




answers from Miami on

I would definitely go inside his nap time or sleep time with the plane so he sleeps most of the way. I'd plan on walking up and down the plane with him. You might want the one that converts to stroller because otherwize you will be carrying seat and him up and down the walkways. Makesure you request first board and first off. Bring snacks and plenty of toys. I do not agree with those who say give him cough medicine. Just totally against it. But be prepared for the crying on landing and take off because of the ear popping. I hope its not a long trip. Dont think long trips in planes are good for kids unless totatlly necessary because illnesses that are in the plane and the fact that you will drive everyone crazy with the babies crying.



answers from Boca Raton on

I never brought a car seat into the airplane. First, they are already bulky and if your child decides that he had it being strap the whole trip, then you are going to have it there. I feel so bad when I see the parent's frustration when they bring the car seats, and the child doesn't want to use it once inside the plane and they can't get rid of them....... I never thought about the adapter either.
I can tell you that there's nothing great that having an extra empty seat right next to you. He can stretch, or sleep, or just play. Or you can stretch and have you kid sleep on you.
I just came back from our vacation and I can tell you that with all the restrictions that the air lines have, the last thing you want is more stress.
The plane had more kids than adults, since the flight was going to Orlando (Disney), and it got kind of crazy. Specially for parents with kids on car seats. Some of them said they were not going to do it again....
I used to bring stickers, model magic, crayons, scissors for kids, beads, puzzles and anything that will maintain his attention. The portable dvd is a good idea. One thing that I found is that small toys got their attention better than the big ones. Talk to him and explain to him how people travel, what they have to do inside once you get to your seat; hat he might have to take his shoes off at the air port, all those things that we all have to go through when flying....
I wish you good luck and let us know what you decided.

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