9 mo on plane- lap or carseat? - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-15-2010, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband and I will be traveling from east coast to west very soon with our 9 1/2 month old, and I'm not clear on whether we should hold him on our laps (and/or in ergo) or buy a ticket for him and put him in the carseat... any advice appreciated! thanks!

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Old 06-15-2010, 07:57 PM
 
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A carseat is safer and easier. But it can be cost prohibitive. You actually are not allowed to have him in a carrier of any sort (ergo) on take off or landing.

-Angela
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Old 06-15-2010, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Angela, that's sort of what I was thinking... I guess we'll check the ticket prices and go from there...

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Old 06-15-2010, 09:07 PM
 
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I know that they say you aren't allowed to have the baby attached to you for take off and lading, but I've had the baby in a woven wraps a couple times and no attendant told me otherwise. I also found having a boppy or other nursing pillow helpful as a spot for the lil one to lay down across the armrests (which are very hard)
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Old 06-16-2010, 05:41 AM
 
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Please never have your baby in a carrier for take-off and landing. There is only a lap belt on the plane and your body weighs more than your baby's. On forward impact, the baby wouldn't stand a chance.

Even if a F/A doesn't see you, you are still putting your baby at great risk by doing this. You don't even have to remove the baby from the carrier. Just somehow detach it from yourself. I used to unhook carriers from behind passenger's backs before take-off and landing. The baby could stay in the carrier-as long as it wasn't attached to the parents' body. This is why "belly belts" are banned on U.S. and Canadian companies.

During the "cruise portion" of your flight, you can wear your carrier as you wish since there is no risk of forward impact and turbulence is the threat. At the point, the baby is safer in the carrier.

If you need your car seat at your destination, be sure to bring it to the gate and at least try to get it on board. Mention this (nicely) at check-in and they'll see if the flight is full. Be sure to gate-check any seat if you can't get a free place. Never check a car seat as luggage. They get lost and damaged all the times by airlines and compensation wont be offered. It's considered a "delicate" item. Many people claim their seats are fine after checking but the truth is that the damage might not be obvious and they'd only find out if they were in an accident and the seat didn't protect their child as designed. Scary thought! Let's hope they never find out!!

How to decide? First of all, if you are headed to a destination where you wont need a car seat (i.e. big city with good public transport) or your parents have one where you will be visiting, you might go for the lap deal. You can even order an inexpensive car seat on line and have it delivered to the home of whom you're staying.

Is carrying a baby on your lap less safe? Yes! BUT air travel itself is VERY safe and there is very little chance of anything going wrong. This is where you are placing your bets. Some parents are very comfortable with this idea and others aren't. Getting your car seat safely to your destination might play a bigger role since the real threat to children is on the road, not in the air. Arriving at the airport without a safe way to transport your child is more the risk you're facing.
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Old 06-16-2010, 07:20 AM
 
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Thanks for this thread. We'll be flying with our LO a lot.

If you do bring a car seat aboard, is there a way that it attaches to the plane seat? And is rear-facing safer on the plane as well? Or does that fall into the it-doesn't-make-a-difference because turbulence is the real threat category?

Thanks!

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Old 06-16-2010, 08:15 AM
 
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you can use the airplane seatbelts to attach the carseat just like in a car. I don't think it makes a huge diffference whether you RF or FF safety wise but for use RF was MUCH better comfort wise. DD is used to it, she can keep her toys in her lap (they fall off FF) and she can't kick the seat in front of her. The Scenera (our travel seat) installs very nicely in most airplane seats.

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Old 06-16-2010, 11:27 AM
 
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I will share a little about our infant travelling experiences.

For the first year and a half or so, we didn't purchase a seat for DS. We were always lucky enough to be seated next to an empty seat. (we had to ask for this) But from what I have heard lately, empty seats are increasingly rare now. If you choose not to purchase a ticket, it can't hurt to ask to be seated next to an empty seat upon check in.

We never had a problem securing the carseat with a seat belt. Just board early and take your time.

I know all kids are different but DS was more than happy to stay in his seat, snoozing the entire flight. Often, he would fall asleep before take off and sleep the entire flight (these flights were under 3 hours)

There is a podcast called the Crew Lounge, which is a bunch of airline employees talking about their jobs. They did an episode (#14 I think) that talks about flying with kids, safety issues and such. It is very worthwhile listening to if you can. The one female FA talks a lot about turbulence and the dangers of holding a child. I don't want to be an alarmist or stir trouble but there is a lot of debate about "what is the chance of turbulence and injury?" whenever the lap-baby subject comes up and the podcast addresses their (FAs) opinion on the subject.

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Old 06-16-2010, 12:13 PM
 
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I held my 9month LO for her 3 airplane rides... and I was glad I did. The air pressure changes really did a number on her and I breast fed her on the way up and down. She also slept for most of the time on me (after breastfeeding for take off).

I'm didn't even consider trying to get an empty seat for the car seat. I may try that next time.
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Old 06-16-2010, 12:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Eclipsepearl View Post
Please never have your baby in a carrier for take-off and landing. There is only a lap belt on the plane and your body weighs more than your baby's. On forward impact, the baby wouldn't stand a chance.

Even if a F/A doesn't see you, you are still putting your baby at great risk by doing this. You don't even have to remove the baby from the carrier. Just somehow detach it from yourself. I used to unhook carriers from behind passenger's backs before take-off and landing. The baby could stay in the carrier-as long as it wasn't attached to the parents' body. This is why "belly belts" are banned on U.S. and Canadian companies.

During the "cruise portion" of your flight, you can wear your carrier as you wish since there is no risk of forward impact and turbulence is the threat. At the point, the baby is safer in the carrier.
I wasn't trying to suggest being sneaky. I've only flown with my daughter for 4 trips (8 times) in the past year. Flight attendants have seen her in the wrap and no one has told me she shouldn't be in there.
My thoughts on safety were this: If there was a crash or impact I doubt there would be much chance of survival of a lap baby (no wrap) either (i'm thinking the speed of a plane taking off or landing is much faster than a car and a baby just help in a car would have little chance of survival from a front impact). I figured since the statistics say that most injuries on a plane occur due to turbulence that really the scary part would be mid air. If I brought a carseat with me on the plane I'd probably have her out of it in mid air because my DD howls bloody murder in carseats. I was just kinda trusting in the low incidences of plane accidents, as opposed to bus accidents (which we use regularly with 0 seat belts, because there are none)

Eclipse, it sounds like you've done a lot of research on the subject. Can you direct me to the studies, or websites, or whatnot that I need to be reading? I'm happy to be schooled in this. TYVMIA!


Oh also the flight attendants said they had to put me next to an empty seat because there had to be an oxygen mask available for the baby.Not sure if this an airline rule or not but it happened each time I was seated somewhere else.
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Old 06-16-2010, 01:21 PM
 
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On one side of the plane there are 4 masks at least. It's required. Some planes have four on each side (this is talking about 3 across aisle 3 across planes). So there are enough. But usually they only allow one lap child per row because of this.

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Old 06-16-2010, 01:30 PM
 
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I was on planes with 1 seat on one side and 2 on the other. Does that make a difference?
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Old 06-16-2010, 02:21 PM
 
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I've never really understood the wrap problem.

On frontal impact so strong that the baby would be crushed between you and the seat in front of you, if not restrained, the baby becomes a projectile. Does it really hvae a better chance as a projectile?

And how likely is that scenario compared to the risk of the baby being thrown or getting whiplash from an unexpected jolt?
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Old 06-16-2010, 02:24 PM
 
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One other thing I want to know about airplanes: Why on earth won't they allow booster seats?

I can't travel with three carseats -- I just can't carry them and my three kids. But the waist straps on the seat cut right across my sons' bellies. I spent $130 to get to CARES units, only to find that rather than protecting my kids, those straps actually make the lap belt even worse. I can't get it tight enough that my kids don't slip out hte bottom without also making it painful. I've brought a booster seat on board and found that it is MUCH better that way -- the seat belt fits properly. But I've never been allowed to leave a kid in a booster on teh plane.

Any idea?
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Old 06-16-2010, 02:32 PM
 
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I have read (could be outdated though) that the safest place (besides the carseat) for a baby during a rough landing/ crash is on the floor

We have traveled a lot with our son! We have done it both ways, with a seat for him and in our laps. When he was really little he only wanted to be held anyway! Even when he was over 2 he wanted to be held the whole time!!

Obviously it depends on your child and what you are comfortable with. But I feel like flying is safe, and sometimes an extra ticket is just so expensive!
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Old 06-16-2010, 02:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Dov'sMom View Post
One other thing I want to know about airplanes: Why on earth won't they allow booster seats?

I can't travel with three carseats -- I just can't carry them and my three kids. But the waist straps on the seat cut right across my sons' bellies. I spent $130 to get to CARES units, only to find that rather than protecting my kids, those straps actually make the lap belt even worse. I can't get it tight enough that my kids don't slip out hte bottom without also making it painful. I've brought a booster seat on board and found that it is MUCH better that way -- the seat belt fits properly. But I've never been allowed to leave a kid in a booster on teh plane.

Any idea?
No booster seat is allowed to be used with a lap only belt, vehicle or plane, that is why.

Though I've never had an issue with the plane seats cutting across my kiddos tummy, and he's skinny. They sit so low.

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Old 06-16-2010, 03:14 PM
 
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I found having a carseat on the plane actually a lot more of a hassle. The reason is, during takeoff, landing, and any other time that the seatbelt sign comes on, your child MUST be in the carseat. You are legally bound to have the child in that seat. That was just wonderful when there was a tiny bit of turbulence and my kid started SCREAMING and I wasn't allowed to unbuckle him and soothe him. If I had a 9 month old, I would lapsit as that's where they would want to be the entire time anyways.

Also, the carseat must be in the middle seat. So, it makes it almost impossible for the person at the window to get out. Also the carseat puts the child's feet in PRIME position to KICK the seat in front of them. Yah, it's fun to get them to stop doing that. But you have to...it's the only polite and courteous thing to do.

I learned my lesson and the next time I travelled with my son at 2 yrs old I just checked his carseat at the gate and had him sit in his own seat without a carseat. The belt buckle was fine and he was SO much happier and content. jmho.

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Old 06-16-2010, 03:29 PM
 
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I have always found it much easier to keep my young kids in the lap during 60+ flights, most of them international (always brought our RF seats with us though). While I work with car seat safety full time I disagree with a car seat being easier on a flight. Everyone, especially staff, hate car seats on board. I have also found a majority of kids being very unhappy in their seats on the plane.

Unhappy kids in a car is no reason for not keeping them rear facing since vehicle accidents are the number one killer of children in US. Airline travel is completely different since we don't have any children dying or being seriously injured unless the aircraft crashes and kill everyone on board.

Keeping a child on the lap is extremely safe. Using a car seat might be slightly safer but the difference is too small to matter. It's irrelevant for safety which all data, stats and ral life experience show. Don't take my word for it, check any airline statistics and the answer is very clear.

The priority should as always bee on having a car seat for your child as you arrive since traveling on the ground is thousands of times more dangerous than being in a plane.

Enjoy your trip!

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Old 06-16-2010, 03:31 PM
 
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Also, the carseat must be in the middle seat. So, it makes it almost impossible for the person at the window to get out. Also the carseat puts the child's feet in PRIME position to KICK the seat in front of them. Yah, it's fun to get them to stop doing that. But you have to...it's the only polite and courteous thing to do.
I don't think this is right - as far as I know the car seat must be at the window just so it doesn't impede the person in the window seat from getting out.

And if you install RF (if you can), that avoids the kicking the seat in front problem, which is a major PITA. Installing RF might prevent the person in front from reclining their seat, but I believe the child in the seat has the priority to be installed RF rather than the passenger being able to recline their seat.
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Old 06-16-2010, 03:44 PM
 
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My 13-month-old has flown with me on five round-trip flights in the past ten months, mostly recently from New York to San Francisco and back, and we've never used a carseat or carrier. I just hold her on my lap, and if we're lucky to have an empty seat next to us, we spread out. She breastfeeds for takeoff and landing. Air travel with her has been tiring but otherwise easy.

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Old 06-16-2010, 03:55 PM
 
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I travelled with my 6 mo and he sat in my lap. The only complaint I had was that I was travelling my myself and he really wore me out because he was wide awake the entire time! I guess I did a good job of entertaining him cause after the flight, several people said that he was good. Next time, I will fly with someone else whose lap we can trade off!
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Old 06-16-2010, 03:59 PM
 
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This is a hot topic for me. I will try to sum up:

1. A child in a lap is four times more likely to die in bad turbulence or a mild crash than a child in a car-seat.
2. Due to gravitational forces, a parent (even a strong man) cannot physically hold the baby to her or himself should there be a sudden drop, even if the drop is otherwise surviveable.
3. http://www.mothering.com/discussions...&highlight=faa
4. http://flyingwithchildren.blogspot.com

It is much, much safer to fly with children in a seat.

As the first reply said, though, air travel is much safer than driving. So I guess it depends on how you calculate the risks.

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Old 06-16-2010, 04:04 PM
 
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In a plane without a middle section, the seat HAS to go in the window seat. If you do fly with a carseat (even in an unpaid-for seat) the child HAS to be in that seat whenever the light is on, so takeoff, landing, turbulence, etc. Some pilots keep it on the whole flight.

I flew with DD in my lap until she was about 1.5, then I started getting seats for her if there was one available. I found it much easier to just hold her as a tiny baby (first flight at 3 months) and much easier to use the carseat RF in our most recent flight (2yo). She's had more than 20 flights since her birth. I think the carseat got easier around 12-18months, prior to that I preferred the lap. DD did not like her carseat as an infant though - serious carseat screamer for the first 9 months or so.

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Old 06-16-2010, 04:14 PM
 
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I have only flown once with DD. She was 3 months old and we were travelling alone, and I knew flights to where I was heading were usually fully booked, so I jumped at the chance to buy her own seat (very discounted for an infant) and take along her carseat. We needed it anyway at our destination. This is not necessarily from a safety perspective, but having two seats to ourselves was great, and I had the option of either holding her or letting her sit in the carseat. I might be a little braver now and do the lap thing with our upcoming baby, but at the time, I didn't regret it at all. The flight was packed and we would have been very, very cramped had she not had her own seat. Her seat was at the window and it fit RF easily with the seatbelt. If I had been travelling with my husband, we probably wouldn't have bought an extra seat, but for travelling alone with a baby, I'd say it was worth it.

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Old 06-16-2010, 04:18 PM
 
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We have always purchased a seat for our kids, regardless of age. I was not willing to risk it. My DH was on a plane with awful turbulence where bags flew up to the ceiling of the cabin etc, and a couple of my friends have had similar experiences. It does happen.

They usually snoozed away in their car seats for much of the flight.

We were able to get half price tickets for the kids up to age 2. I am not sure if any airlines are still doing that or not.

When my kids were babies, I took the bucket seat along with the base and used the lap belt to install the base, just like you would in the car, and it has to go RF. Otherwise you can string the lap belt along the top of the bucket and not use a base. I opted to use the base because I was on a plane where my seat belt had dried vomit on it and I figured I didn't want a filthy seat belt right in front of my baby to be pawed at. (The base fit into the bottom basket of the stroller I took with, and the seat fit into the stroller, and I draped my carry ons over the stroller and the car seat. I wore the baby.)

And yes the car seat has to go in the window seat, so you would probably be in a middle seat depending on the configuration in the plane.

Good luck. There is no easy way to travel with kids, IMO.
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Old 06-16-2010, 04:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by alegna View Post
A carseat is safer and easier. But it can be cost prohibitive. You actually are not allowed to have him in a carrier of any sort (ergo) on take off or landing.

-Angela
This pretty much sums it up.

I flew with my then 14 month old without a carseat (because we could not afford the tickets with one) and it was a huge PITA. I really wished I had had it. If I fly with him again, he is definitely going in the car seat, or I won't go. It sucked.

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Old 06-16-2010, 04:45 PM
 
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We have flown many times with both kids when they were under 2 (at least a dozen trips each, some long-haul int'l flights), and in almost every case they've had their own seat and carseat. We do this both for safety--I've been in enough turbulence that I *know* would have been challenging/scary/unsafe for a lap child--and for the comfort, space, and ease of the flight. Not major, but I also like having the carseat within sight the whole time.

With a bucket, I didn't use the base (I stick it under the seat in front)--we fly a lot on SW, and I've had the carseat get pretty stuck in those seats just because of the length and buckle location on the seatbelts, and using only the bucket works just fine.
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Old 06-16-2010, 05:01 PM
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I still don't understand how holding a baby is safer than having the baby in a carrier (obviously NOT withing the lap belt with you). I know that it's the rule, but I don't get why. And I agree the safest place is in the carseat. I'm just trying to figure out the physics of the thing.
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Old 06-16-2010, 06:00 PM
 
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No need to feed on take-off and landing. If you are using a car seat, be sure your LO is in it during those times. The critical time to feed your baby is not during either but at the TOP of descent (usually 40 minutes to an hour before landing). This is when the pressurization reverses in everyone's ears (you'll feel it too). The AAP says to have the child awake. Any head movement, gurgling, talking, laughing, etc. helps their ears. You don't have to force them to feed. Just keep to a normal feeding routine!

Landing is too late for the ears.

I made sure that we scheduled a trip to the doctor to make sure they didn't have an ear infection. My son had a history of them (the only one who had formula since he was mixed fed from 5 months on). The few times there were problems were babies who were or recently been sick. They were in real pain and no sucking helped. I rarely saw ear problems.

Boosters aren't allowed because they're only to position a shoulder strap-which airline seats don't have. Airplane seats also collapse for emergency reasons, unlike a car, so there's no support behind them. It has to be a hard shell seat with an internal harness to have any benefit.

The FAA allows rfing seats. If you have a plane with decent pitch, you're fine. You can also put a family member in front if kicking is a problem. Car seats have to go by windows, except if there are two aisles. They they can go in a middle seat in the center section. Everyone has to have access to the aisle without a car seat in the way.

Someone posted here that there is an airline which allows certain seats in aisle seats. Apparently if the design doesn't let the seat protrude or some logic like that. I can't confirm but it certainly doesn't hurt to ask!

My flying experience, both as a mom and as a F/A, are that there are fewer problems when you bring the seat. One reason is that their feet are above the real "kick zone" at the bottom of the seat in front of them. Often, children without a car seat have their legs sticking out and they bump the seat in front of them every time they get out. They sleep better and can see out the window. No, you do not have to have your child in it every minute.

Mine spent most of the time in my lap and then I had the seat for either when they slept or take-off and landing. It was nice to be able to get out of my seat when they were asleep and not worry that they would be hurt in turbulence.

Don't worry if they cry on take-off and landing. It's not because of their ears! (since crying clears the ears better than sucking so if they don't stop...) Everyone is awake, or should be. I found it easier to have them strapped in and comforting them than to have a squirmy toddler jumping out of my lap. There are cases of families being "off loaded" due to not controlling their toddler. I'm alone with three children and I don't know how I could have coped with my wiggly youngest!

Yes, your child is safer loose in your lap if you don't use a car seat on board. Children have survived, even thrown whereas they don't have a chance in your lap. Forward impact could happen even in a "lesser" crash (for lack of a better word) where the aircraft slides off the runway.

I don't want to go on about this especially since much of it was learned in class, with yukky photos that weren't released to the press. The airlines, whether by law or tact, don't reveal all the gory details of a crash to the press.

Let's just say about keeping your child loose in your lap, take my word for it! The carrier also could get in the way in an emergency. It's a FAA regulation so it's easier to take the carrier off when and how you want than 2 minutes before push-back, have some bossy F/A scolding you!
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Old 06-16-2010, 07:17 PM
 
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You've gotten some good info, so I'll share my opinion. I've done both. With one (mostly temperamentally content) child, lap holding worked just fine. With several children, especially my more active ones, they have been happier in seats. I recommend rear-facing especially with kick-y toddlers. They lose out on having a tray, but you'll get fewer nasty looks.

Laura, mama to J (15), N (12), E (9) , M (6), and our little caboose, R (3).
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