Car Seats Outside The Car: The Inside Scoop
Every parent knows car seats are an essential piece of hitting the road with the kids but what about all of the other places your kids are “in motion” – planes, trains, and, taxicabs are all tricky. You might sigh with relief with one less thing to worry about or you might wonder – how safe is this – really? So what’s the scoop? And when do you need – or demand – your kids be buckled in?
You aren’t required to use a car seat on an airplane. Children under two years old can snuggle on your lap for the duration of the flight. If you buy an extra seat, some airlines require they’re also in a car seat – though many family flyers we’ve spoken with stated it was never insisted on by the flight crew, just requested on the website.
Here’s the airline scoop, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents use FAA-approved restraints for any child on any flight. Turbulence could send little travelers flying, out of regular seats or from mom or dad’s arms.
Most standard car seats will fit on plane seats, but be sure to contact your airline to confirm widths and look into any other considerations. Some airlines, for example, won’t allow car seats in aisle or window seats, while others mandate how many rows away from an exit they need to be. Having this info upfront will help your family plan, especially if you’re traveling with multiple kids. The good news? Some airlines offered lower-cost tickets to kids under two, if you opt to purchase a seat for them.
Public buses don’t typically have seat belts or lower-latch anchors which means even if you lug a car seat onboard there’s no way to strap it in properly. While not ideal, most experts say your best bet is keeping babies and infants in a front-pack carrier such as a BabyBjorn, Ergo, wrap or other sturdy carrier.
Many long-distance buses also don’t have adult seat belts or latches – however, some do. Contact your bus company to confirm whether you’ll be able to strap a car seat in.
Most trains don’t have seat belts or restraints, making it impossible to secure a car seat. The good news? Because trains are big, solid, heavy, and traveling on their own tracks, the likelihood of being involved in a crash or other accidents are fairly slim. However, accidents happen, and it’s important to keep your kids as secure as possible – in other words, keep them out of aisles, bathrooms and areas between cars. A jolt or sudden stop could send them flying.
Like some airlines, Amtrak offers 50% discounts for young passengers, so be sure to investigate before booking your next trip. Families are also invited to board first, so it’s easy to find enough seats together for your crew.
This one boggles the minds of countless city parents. Why would a child need a car seat in a car, but not in a yellow cab – which, let’s face it, is just a regular old car? In most states car seats aren’t required in taxi cabs. This oversight seems unsafe and purely anchored in ease – in other words, it’s easier for parents to leave car seats at home and simply hop in a cab with their kids.
Some states, though, are moving to increase safety surrounding kids and cabs. California, for examples, mandates car seats for all kids until they’re six years old or weigh more than 60 pounds. That said, there’s no reason you can’t voluntarily bring a car seat into a taxi. While your regular car seat may be a little too cumbersome to lug around town, there are plenty of portable options on the market that can easily be popped into a stroller or, even, a diaper or handbag. Then, when you have to jump in a cab, you’ll have something at the ready to secure your child until you’re safely at home.