Car Seat to Use After Airplane Travel

Updated on June 07, 2008
M.K. asks from Dobbs Ferry, NY
44 answers

I will be traveling with my 5 month old baby in a couple weeks, visiting my family. We will be flying to our destination, but will be using car transportation once we get there. We will be visiting for several days and will be driving around while there. We are planning on flying with our baby on our lap and do not want to have to worry about installing a carseat as soon as we get there. My parents (grandparents) are considering buying a convertible carseat and having it installed, and it can be turned around and used again for following visits. However, we are not sure when the next visit will be....it may be a year from now. Any recommendations for this situation?

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K.K.

answers from New York on

evenflo makes a wonderful carseat that lasts up to 36 lbs rearfacing and up to 50 lbs forwardfacing. Plus, the straps lock in so they are very easy to adjust. Perfect for kids different ages. A little bit pricey -I think we paid 180 at BRU but well worth it.

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M.L.

answers from New York on

Britax is a great convertable car seat and can hold most children until they are 65 lbs, so may years of visits ahead.

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A.G.

answers from New York on

Contact the transportation company and tell them you have a 5 month old and will need a car seat. It will probably be a small daily fee but they should (must in most states) provide one. Just do it now and not when you arrive. They should have it installed when you arrive and it should be clean and ready to go. A.

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K.R.

answers from New York on

I'd suggest the Cosco Scenera. You can get it for about $40 at Wal-Mart/Target/K-Mart.

I'd advise against the Alpha Omega listed below. The Graco ComfortSport, Evenflo seats, and the Alpha Omega 3-in-1 type seats are "small" seats - meaning, most kids will outgrow them in height long before you ever get to the weight limit. In fact, most will reach the height limit on those $80+ 3-in-1s around the same time as the $40 Cosco Scenera.

Remember, to be safe in a car seat, you must fit both the weight AND height requirment.

By the time your child outgrows the Cosco Scenera in height, he/she will probably be old enough to need a seat purchased on the aircraft, so then you can just bring your seat from your car for use on the plane.

1 mom found this helpful
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S.P.

answers from New York on

I was in your exact situtation this Christmas, but my baby was almost 4 months old. She was able to hold her head mostly steady so I had her grandparents buy a convertible car seat facing backwards that could be used until she's about 3 or 4 as most convertible car seats go until.

I had them buy her a Graco Comfort Sport, costs about $80. It was reviewed to be very safe and highly recommended as a "grandmom's" car seat. At almost 4 months, I sat in the back with her b/c when she fell asleep her head would bop down.... but then when went back down to see them again at 7 months and it was a great fit and will continue to be a good fit as she grows. I really do recommend doign this, it's reassuring to have a reliable car seat that you will continue to use for a few years rather than buying used or renting.

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C.W.

answers from New York on

if your parents buy a convertible car set, they usually can hold a child until about 3-4 years old, depending upon the weight. Also, you could always "gate check" your car seat, like you would your stroller. Just a thought.

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R.L.

answers from New York on

Hi M.,
I'm not totally sure I understand your dilema, but you'll be using a car seat for your baby for A LOT of years. The car seat laws are pretty strict now I think your child has to be certain weight and/or height. For instance, my friend's daughter is just turning 6 and still has a booster. So, it would be pretty easy to have your parents buy one that is convertible. You can also rent one through a car rental company (if you are planning to rent a car), you can also contact a baby rental company. When we traveled to CA recently, we rented a car seat, pack and play, booster seat for eating and a box of toys for 4 days for $90. It was great! Everything was in great condition and worked perfectly. We rented from babysaway.com. Good luck!

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A.T.

answers from New York on

Hi M.,
I recently traveled internationally with my 6-month old and although having the carseat is a pain in the airports (you have to take the baby out to send it through the security scanner), it is worth the hassle to have it once you get to your destination. As soon as someone picks you up at the airport you have to have the carseat to strap her into the car. It is also a safe, known environment for your baby so that she is as comfortable as possible. Finally, if the airline gives you an extra seat for her to put the carseat in, you don't have to wake her up if she's fallen asleep in her stroller or in the carseat...you can simply transfer her back and forth still strapped in.

If you are definitely against the idea of traveling with the car seat, another option would be to rent a car on the other end with a carseat incorporated. All major rentals offer them, and it's probably more worthwhile than buying a new carseat that you may or may not be able to use again.

Good luck!

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M.P.

answers from New York on

Are yolu renting a car when you get there? If you are the car rental place may have car seats. This way you or your parents dont have buy the car seat that may only be used once a year.

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E.M.

answers from New York on

When my son was 5 months old we flew to Fla for a few days. We gate checked his Graco snug ride (w/out the base) so we were able to use the seat (perfectly fine) in the car service to the airport and while we were driving there. He rode on my lap for the flight. Once we arrived we were picked up at the "drive thru" area, installing the car seat in the middle of the back seat took around a minute, so there wasn't a hassle with it.

Good Luck!

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M.M.

answers from Rochester on

I agree with renting but there is another option. We just bought my daughter a convertible booster seat. It will seat her up to 100lbs. Just a thought!

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C.O.

answers from New York on

Hi!
Whatever you do, don't rent one from a car rental company. It will cost you a FORTUNE - more than what a car seat would cost.
I think it is a good idea for the grandparents to get that convertible car seat - it will be well worth the money - they don't have to get a fancy one so it shouldn't set you back too much at all. Even if you go back once a year - you still will need a car seat (and eventually a booster) and it will be one less thing for you to be concerned about. Plus, your baby will be safe.

Have a great trip!
Celia

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J.C.

answers from New York on

Hi M.,

I think it depends how big your little guy is as to whether you can use a convertible seat. My kids always outgrew the infant seat by 4 months. If he's big enough, I'd recommend the Britax Marathon. It's a bit expensive, but you'll always know that he'll be safe when you're with his grandparents. My 5 year old, who's 44 inches tall and 50 pounds is still in it--I believe it goes up to 65 pounds (maybe higher, but at least 65), so you'll get a lot of use out of it. It's easy to install (although it's easier forward facing than rear, so if they can have a pro do it til they get the hang of it, that would be great).

Enjoy your trip!
J.

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J.C.

answers from Utica on

Call the car service a lot of times they have carseats to use normally at no additional cost. That would be what I did first. Second really your only other option is to have the grandparents by one or you check his carseat so that when you get your baggage his carseat will be there.

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D.S.

answers from New York on

Your family can buy a car seat from a children's consignment shop and then sell it back once your visit is over. That is what I did when I went to visit my parents who lived far away and I held my son on my lap on the plane. It worked out great!
If you decide to get one and check it on the plane...remember that right now a lot of airlines are charging for any bags or items that you check.

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D.M.

answers from New York on

Hi
I am in the same situation - My parents found that renting the car seat is a great way to go. My parents live in Boca Raton FL and there are two companies that focus on renting family products for just this reason. I have a niece and a nephew that are 1 and 4 and have been going to FL for a couple of years now. Each time they go, they rent the appropriate car seat, toys, cribs etc and it works amazingly well. If your parents are near there, let me know and I can find out the names of the companies.
D.
[email protected]____.com

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J.B.

answers from New York on

Britax car seats are great and they last for a very long time and have a good range in terms of being appropriate for babies and for toddlers.

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D.A.

answers from New York on

Bring your own car seat and just check it when you check the rest of your luggage in.

It's the easiest way and then you won't waste w/ buying another car seat that you're only going to use once. (possibly..)

(AND she may grow OUT of it by the time you visit the grandparents again....)

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M.L.

answers from New York on

Are you renting a car? Many car rental agencies have baby seats to lend out with the cars. We are actually going through a similar situation right now - my niece is visiting in a few weeks and her Mom doesn't want to travel with the huge car seat. I found one on Freecycle that will work. You could also check with friends and see if there is a carseat to borrow for a week?

If none of those options work, you can find inexpensive, lightweight and safe carseats at Target or another similar store. Graco is a good company

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D.

answers from New York on

I just bought a Alpha Omega carseat by Graco (I think). It is a convertible car seat that also turns into a booster seat and can hold a child upto 80lbs. This is my 2nd one as I have 2 kids and my mom watches my kids during the day and needs her own set of seats. I love this seat. And I bought it at BJ's for $80.

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B.F.

answers from Rochester on

I agree with the recommendations to borrow one. Another suggestions is craigslist.com. You can purchase items by location. For instance I look at the Buffalo, NY area because it is close to my home. A lot of times infants are not in the "infant carseat" for very long. Usually they sell for a fraction of the original price, because as you well know w/ a baby you can only have room for so much baby stuff. Another idea is that if they insist on purchasing new have them purchase a model that goes from infant to toddler and then to booster seat. In NY we are required to have them in a booster until they reach a certain age or certain weight I believe (my kids are older so I forget the specifics). Anyway the booster helps to position the seatbelt correctly on the child and is safer. I found a model at Walmart for about $100.00 that does just this. This way depending on the size of your child as they grow the carseat can be used from birth through - for my niece 7 yrs old. Hope this helps.

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A.P.

answers from New York on

If it's the hassle you're worried about, I'd just practice installing your own seat a couple of times before you go (that's what I did). Then, it's very quick to install. Because I can almost guarantee you that you will find a carseat easier to install than your parents will.

I don't have any recommendations if you want to buy, except to maybe get a carseat with a high weight limit, so you'll get the most use out of it. But you can also rent. I think one of the baby equipment rental places is called babies away? If you're interested in going that route, maybe just try to google "carseat rental" or something similar. Good luck and enjoy your trip.

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G.T.

answers from Rochester on

You're only going to be there for a few days and may not return for a year so why not see if your parents can borrow a car seat from a friend? I'm sure they have friends that either have grown children or grandchildren and may have a car seat they don't need all the time and can part with for a few days. This way they can have the seat already installed in their car when you get there (all you will have to do is adjust it to your baby) and they won't have to store the seat for a year after you leave. If you were going to visit more often I would say go ahead and buy one. For a visit once a year why go to that expense and bother?

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S.K.

answers from Albany on

If you are going to buy one you can get the ones that go from 5 to 80 or 100 pounds. I have the alpha omega elite and that is how it works when my daughter gets to big for the straps the seat turns to a belt positioning booster.I really like the seat. Good luck with the decision.
Sherri

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J.H.

answers from Buffalo on

M.
My cousin has been traveling with her baby since she was born. She has a Graco Travel System. Because the infant seat is attachable to the stroller, she uses the stroller through the airport. All the way to her gate. She then checks it in at the gate and they store it until she reaches her destination. So she has her stroller plus carseat without having to check in at baggage claim. Using your stroller at airports gets you access to shorter security lanes also! And that is always a blessing!

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L.H.

answers from Albany on

If you are renting a car you will be able to also rent a car seat, however they will not install it for you (at least not Hertz) due to the liability. If you are using a family members car you can ask them to see if they can borrow one from a friend or find one at a consignment shop. Here in NY our local police dept will install them for us and ensure they meet all the proper requirements.

Good luck.

P.S. Did you notice yesterday another mom had asked about air travel, maybe there is more good tips for you there. I recommend getting an umbrella stroller for the airport and keep it as a carryon.

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L.P.

answers from New York on

Hi M..
When my second son was born I flew twice with him before he was 6 months old. Since your son is 5 months I assume that he is still in a baby carrier/car seat (whatever that thing is called) :) Do you use the one that is attached to your stroller? When I flew I had a sit a stand stroller (pretty big) plus the car seat that clipped in. I just gate checked it and the people there were all VERY helpful. It was no problem at all. If I was you I would call the airline to check, but when I flew it was no problem at all.

Anyway, hope you have a good time with your family. :)

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G.L.

answers from New York on

The best thing to use is if you have an infant seat like a graco snugrider. I had one with the snap and go stroller frame. I was able to take my baby up to the gate in the stroller, and the crew took it apart and put it on the plane at the last minute. It was waiting for me when I got off. This way, you have both things. You can jsut strap the seat into the car later. My daughter is small, so it worked on a recent trip (she was 22 months old at the time) and also when she was 3 months old.

G.

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S.B.

answers from New York on

You can have your car seat or a stroller "gate checked", whihc means you carry it till the last minute, and you get it back as soon as you get off the plane. You can also check your car seat, which they will gladly box for you. You can usually "curb check" all of your checked bags, so you drive up and drop them off, check in for your flight and then park your car on the way to the gate. Unless the grandparents want to buy a birth to booster seat, those are some reasonable options.

Traveling with children does not have to be the ordeal it looks like at first. remember, any people or place you visit will have access to laundry facilities, and there is usually a store close by to pick up whatever you didn't *think* you'd need... Pack light - and as an extra tip, pack all of your things in nesting suitcases - pack your stuff into the smaller one and nest it into the large one, empty, then check it - now you have plenty of room (a whole extra suitcase)to bring home the stuff you'll pick up on your trip and the gifts "everyone" will give for the new baby. The more relaxed you are about your trip, the more enjoyable it will be for everyone - you, the baby, and the childless couple sitting next to you....

S., whose kids think everyone uses planes, trains and automobiles equally...

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H.A.

answers from New York on

Ask the airline to put a note in the seat next to you that you are traveling with an infant. This way, they can try to fill this seat last. If the seat is still available during the flight, you can use it for your child. You might want to bring your car seat (if you have an infant seat as part of a stroller, you might want to bring it anyway). You can just gate check your stroller and car seat (if you need to). This way you have the car seat with you for the flight and your destination.

If your parents are going to buy a car seat, I agree with the Cosco. I've heard good things about it.

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M.L.

answers from New York on

I agree with the Cosco one from Walmart..I got that one for my daughter and it was around $40...its very affordable and easy to install and uninstall...they have a nice flower pattern for girls that they didnt have when I bought mine..but for the price who can complain!!
Meg :)

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M.L.

answers from New York on

HI There - I did the same thing - my parents have a place in FL so we bought an inexpensive but safe costco car seat at KMart to keep there ( I did not want to lug my heavy Britax)...it can go rear facing or forward facing and I think the weight limit was pretty high to last a few trips.......My daughter sat on my lap on the plane. Now that my daughter is almost three, our last trip down we got a small backless booster seat that we used the car seat belt for to get us from the aiport /rental car to the house...then switched it out for the good seat.Traveling with kids is a whole new ballgame...so much more stuff...Itry to only bring essentials...for the most part nowadays you can get everything wherever you are going....good luck.....

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E.S.

answers from Richmond on

M.,
iwould let your parents purchase one, they can get a nice reliable one at a decent price and because your child will not be using it everyday until he is out of it they do not have to get a top of the line one. is there other famiy where you are going? would it be possible for them to borrow one from a family memeber or friend for the time you are there? also if they do purchase one they could get one that has a higher weight limit on it so you would be able to use it if you visit next year. if they purchased a pricier one would they be willing to let you take it home and then you would have one for when you were ready to put your son in it full time.

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A.B.

answers from New York on

you should check the weight requirements. i'm pretty sure 5-month olds cannot go in them as they don't sit up straight yet. a baby certainly could not go in our convertible seat. it is very easy to check an infant car seat with your luggage. some airlines even have big carseat bags; otherwise, bring a large trash bag. when you arrive, just use the seat belt to attach the car seat. it is easy and not the troublesome kind of install i think you are thinking of. also, if your baby sleeps in the car (both of mine did a lot!), it is better to have the infant car seat that cradles them. you may even need to drive your baby around for naps or to calm down.

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B.G.

answers from New York on

If they want to buy it thent tell them to go to One Step Ahead.com.. There is a car seat that is for traveling.. Check it out. :) barbara G.

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N.F.

answers from New York on

We fly all the time with our little one. We just bring the car seat and base with us and gate check it. Then you can just plop it into the car and go when you arrive at your destination. The airport staff is really lenient when it comes to gate checking baby stuff. They let us gate check a stroller and car seat.

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C.K.

answers from New York on

i would defenitaly let them get a car seat for the baby. it saves you from bringing your own. tell to get one that goes from infant to toddler. that would be the best. my husband plan on going to see my family in canad with our son for christmas and he will be a year, i would love for some one in my family to have one for us saves on us bringing it with all are bags. good luck

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J.H.

answers from Albany on

Ask your family to purchase one with a full money back return policy (common enough for people to buy seats and be dissatisfied with the way they fit the car).

Your parents could then have the option to keep it or return it after your stay is completed

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N.L.

answers from New York on

Absolutely. Hands down this was the best solution b/c we just had to go through this for a flight with my then 6 month old.

I'm hoping you had a Graco Snug Ride or similar carseat model? Ours of course has a base, but if you read the instructions you really don't need it. All you need is a side backseat passenger seatbelt that goes diagnol. It fits into hooks (which you might not even have noticed are there until you need it now) and snaps right in. FYI, the base is more about convenience than safety. Then what you do is bring the Snap-N-Go stroller frame. It is light weight and doesn't occupy as much space as a full stroller (or by the way, you can bring the full stroller b/c the carseat fits in that also). You can wheel the baby around with you right up until you are about to load on the plane. Then they give you a ticket and they store it somewhere easy access for them b/c they will have it ready for you as soon as you get off the plane also.

It resolves multiple problems involved with traveling with an infant- trust me! Also, I'm adding a bit of un-solicited advice here; but try to plan his feeding schedule so that he is hungry as the plane lifts off. It will help reduce the air bubbles in his eardrums substantially for him to be swallowing at that ascending point. I also brought squishy ear plugs that can be shaped to your baby's ears and taped them onto her (don't go crazy, just a little scotch tape). It worked like a charm and we had no ear infections or ear pain screaming episodes.

Also, be sure to take all remedies and potential remedies with you. And no, it doesn't sound like it'd be worth it for them to buy an infant carseat b/c he really will be out of it by the time you're likely to return. If my advice doesn't apply, let me know and I'll give you another suggestion.

Good luck!

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E.G.

answers from New York on

triple A auto club offers car seat loans for 2 weeks if you call in advance.

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N.M.

answers from New York on

The car seat my son has, he has been in since 4 mo. It is an Eddie Bauer convertible car seat. It goes from 5-40 lbs, rear facing and front facing. It's great. My son just turned four and he is still in it, and will be for probably the next 6 mo to a year, until he hits 40 lbs. Hope this helps.

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T.M.

answers from Utica on

if they contact their local freecycle.org, they may be able to get one with out cost and the local police department will be happy to let them know that the seat they recieved is safe and will also help them install it. infact if they contact the local police department there maybe and organization in their area that offers to lend carseats and they can pass it on or return it when your visit is complete, then they can go this route again when you decide to visit again. T.

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J.W.

answers from New York on

Are there any other family members that still have car seats in the area of your parents? You could also have them rent one, we did when I went to visit my mom in Florida. They have all of the up to date standard car seats at rental places, including cribs and high chairs, they could also go to a thrift shop for the high chair.

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