Archive for the 'Travel' Category

7 Ideas for Entertaining the Kids While Traveling in the Car

Many of us will be traveling in the car over the holidays. Whether it’s a one-hour ride to Grandma and Grandpa’s house or a long journey, many of us will be looking for ways to keep our little ones entertained while driving. Nothing is worse than being stuck in the car with a couple of bored (and screaming) toddlers!

Some ideas/items that have provided Jasmine and me with countless hours of talking-to-daddy car time or even peaceful flight time are below:

(1) The Crayola Color Wonder Lap Desk

The Crayola lap desk comes with Color Wonder markers and paper. If you’re not familiar with Color Wonder markers, they are wonderful. The kids could (theoretically) write all over the inside of the car (not that we condone this!) and no one would ever see any color because they are designed to create color only on color wonder pages. Kids love these markers and if you save them for car use only, they’ll be a treat that will keep your kids entertained for long stretches of time.

The other thing I love about the lap desk is that it provides the kids with a mobile surface for reading, coloring, and/or working with the rest of the ideas below. I bought one to take on our last 10 hour drive to Boston. Unfortunately, my kids ended up fighting over it the entire trip. So I have since bought another one when I found it on sale at Target.


2) Magnetic or Felt Storyboards

Storyboards are wonderful for the kids because they can create endless creative combinations and stories using their imagination. Jasmine picked up Disney princess magnets from the dollar bins at Target and a $3 magnetic whiteboard for each of her girls, and they were busy for hours talking to their princesses. I’ve also seen Disney and Melissa and Doug magnet boards, with everything from Princess magnets to insects and athletic magnets (i.e. clothe a princess magnet in various clothing and accessory magnets, or dressing a boy in sports clothing, hockey masks, sticks, etc.).


3) Sticker books

Sticker books are always a huge hit in our house, especially the ones that come with specific pages for a set of stickers. If the kids can create or populate a landscape with stickers, it gives them something more than plain paper to focus on. And some sticker books have a special surface that allows the kids to unpeel and re-stick the stickers.

4) TAG Reader

The TAG reader pen is perfect for traveling because it is small and compact, and the kids can follow along books by themselves while you’re driving. They also come with a host of games, which we’re only beginning to discover on ours after owning our Tag for over a year. Make sure to pack extra batteries, though, because they will be very upset when it runs out of juice!


5) Sliding Puzzles

Recently my daughter discovered one of these puzzles while we were in a pediatrician’s waiting room. I didn’t even know they still made them because I haven’t seen them in stores in ages. No fear, Amazon has them and they are inexpensive.


6) “I Spy” Game

My kids always ask to play “I Spy With my Little Eye” when we’re in the car or running with the kids in the jog stroller. Even my two year old participates. Traveling at night makes the game a little difficult, but we always find lights inside/outside of the car to focus on.

Photo source

7) Portable DVD Player

When all else fails, we whip out the portable DVD player – a sure way to calm bored, tired, or anxious children. We usually don’t let the kids watch a lot of tv, but we make exception for long trips. If you don’t have screens built into your car, a variety of mounts can be purchased that will secure a portable dvd player to the car’s headrests, such as the ones found here and here.

What are your favorite games or activities for your young children while traveling?

Travel Safely this Holiday Season

My husband came across this video the other day, and I found it so incredibly powerful and touching that I couldn’t resist sharing it and its message. As you and your loved ones travel this holiday season, please wear seatbelts and ensure that your children are restrained properly. It is tragic at any time of year, but it is all the more heartbreaking to hear of families torn apart during the holiday season because one or more people chose not to wear a seatbelt. If you were as touched as I was by this message, please pass it on to your loved ones and friends.

Wishing you a happy and safe holiday season.


Related articles:
Is Your Car Seat Installed Correctly?
Is Your Baby Ready to Face Forward in the Car?
Is Your Booster Seat Safe? IIHS Releases 2010 Booster Seat Ratings

When Duty Calls…Traveling Away From Your Breastfed Infant


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It’s never easy to travel away from the little ones, and last week I found myself away from my darling kiddos for 3 days and 3 nights. It was the first trip I would take away from my youngest who is still breastfeeding. Fortunately, I don’t have to do it often, but traveling away from a nursing baby presents a number of challenges, the first of which is making sure she has enough milk while I’m away.

For over a month in advance of the trip, I prepared by adding an extra pumping session in the evenings in an effort to accumulate extra milk and freeze it for the time that I’d be away. Ideally, morning is the best time to add an extra pumping session as your supply is stronger then, but my daughter wakes early and usually sneaks in a feeding at 5:30 am and 7 am before going off to daycare so that wasn’t really an option for me.

After accumulating all the milk I thought she could possibly need and then some just in case, the next challenge became figuring out what to do while I was away. Ideally, I wanted to be able to pump while I was away, freeze my milk, and return home with it. I didn’t want to wait to freeze it until I got home because I wanted to preserve it at its best. However, I would be attending a 3-day seminar with workshops running from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm with the typical 10-15 minute morning and afternoon breaks and a hotel room a mile away from meeting rooms with no freezer. Aargh. When would I pump? Where would I pump? How would I freeze my milk?  Would I have to pump and dump, or would I be able to return home with my precious liquid gold?

When I arrived at the hotel, I asked the front desk what accommodations they could make for me. They offered to store my milk in the freezer at bell services and suggested that I talk to the conference organizers when I registered the next morning. There were no mother’s rooms available in the conference center, so the organizers would have to assist me in finding a private space. I dreaded the potentially awkward conversation should I have to address a man, but thank goodness the organizer was a woman…and she must have been a mother too because she was all over my request. I had approached her confidently and kindly and indicated that, because there were no mother’s rooms in the center, I would need a private space to pump milk for my infant at home, and she immediately insisted that I see her whenever I needed a space and she would make a room available for me. Phew!

What a godsend – each time the sessions broke and at lunch, I sought her or her assistant out, and they immediately cleared the speaker-ready room for me and stood guard at the door (no locks!) for me. As an extra precaution, I’d find the outlet furthest from the door, turn my back to it, and pray no one would walk in on me.

I kept a soft-sided cooler in the freezer at bell services. Each morning, I’d pick up the freezer gel packs that I had left there overnight in order to keep my expressed milk cold during the day. At lunch time and in the evenings, I’d stop in and drop off my milk to be frozen. I came to know the folks at bell services very well.  By the end of my trip, I’d managed to pump at least 5 times a day, including mornings and evenings in my room. When it came time to leave, my next challenge was figuring out how to get home with my precious frozen milk.

I had to leave the hotel around 3 p.m. for a flight at 6 p.m. that wouldn’t get me home until nearly 10 p.m. – 7 hours I had to keep my milk frozen. Yikes! During my trip, I’d transferred my milk to Lansinoh milk storage bags and laid them flat in the soft-sided cooler for freezing. I then bagged them all together in large ziploc bags squeezing out as much air as possible, placed them back in the cooler with a freezer gel pack, and stuffed clothing in the extra space within the cooler to eliminate any remaining air pockets. The soft-sided cooler then went into my checked luggage (the cargo space is cooler than the main cabin), and when I arrived home it was still frozen solid. Success!!!!

In addition to my frozen breastmilk, I did also travel with about 12 oz of expressed breastmilk that I was not able to freeze before traveling home. I carried it on the plane with me in the Medela carry case with a frozen gel pack, and it also made it home cold!

More importantly, though, I was back home with my little girls.

If you’re going to be traveling away from your nursing child, here are a few tips for maintaining your supply and returning home with your precious milk:

1) Call ahead and find out what accommodations are available. Ensure that a refrigerator will be available in your room at a minimum, and find out about options for a freezer if you plan to freeze your milk. If you will be attending a seminar, contact the conference organizer to ensure available space if necessary.

Don’t be shy. Be upfront with people about your needs in order to provide milk for your baby. People will be quite helpful if you explain. There is a freezer somewhere in the hotel – don’t be afraid about asking to use it. I read online of one mom who had her milk stored in a meat locker once! The sooner you can get your milk into a freezer, the better. Dr. Lawrence at suggests that you limit refrigerator time before freezing to 6 hours max. Refrigeration slows down enzyme activity, but doesn’t halt it.

2) Bring along your breastpump and battery pack, milk storage bags, freezer gel packs, and a soft-sided cooler. Milk storage bags can be laid flat for freezing allowing you to conserve space and eliminate air pockets which can contribute to thawing. I prefer Lansinoh bags because they are thicker than some others, and they have a double zipper seal. Gel packs will keep your milk colder than ice. A soft-sided cooler will allow you to more easily fit it into your luggage.

3) Pump often to maintain supply and prevent clogged ducts. Stay hydrated as well. It’s easy to get dehydrated while traveling which can affect your supply. I bought an extra water bottle before boarding each plane and made sure to drink lots of water and avoid carbonated beverages while at my conference since I wouldn’t be able to pump quite as often as my daughter would have nursed.

4) Check frozen items in your luggage, and insulate them well. Check with the airline in advance, but most airlines should allow you to check frozen items and gel packs without restriction. You can always declare it at check-in just as a precaution. Make sure it’s labeled as well in the event your luggage gets inspected. The nice thing about Lansinoh storage bags – they’re labeled “My Mommy’s Milk”. As I mentioned earlier, insulating well eliminates air pockets which would otherwise contribute to thawing of your milk. You can carry on frozen items, but the cargo area of the plain will be colder than the passenger cabin.

5) Breastmilk is allowed through security in reasonable quantities. You are allowed an exception to the 3-1-1 rule for breastmilk, however the TSA website isn’t specific as to when you are traveling without your child. The CDC says breastmilk is exempted regardless, though, and recommends that you travel with a printed copy of this webpage to prevent any problems. I have never had a problem getting through security with breastmilk, freezer gel packs, or my breastpump when traveling alone, but be prepared to possibly have your breastmilk tested at security.

6) Look for family bathrooms at the airport should you need to pump while traveling. Unfortunately, I was not able to find one at my terminal, but I’d pumped just before I left for the airport and was able to manage until I returned home.

If you have any other tips or experiences traveling away from your nursing child or transporting your breastmilk while traveling, please leave us a comment. We’d love to hear it.


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Related Articles:
CDC Issues Breastfeeding Report Card for 2010
10 Tips for a Successful Start to Breastfeeding
Got Milk? Maintaining Your Milk Supply When Returning to Work
Miracle at Birth: Mom’s Final Goodbye Brings Life to her Child

Is Your Car Seat Installed Correctly?

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This week is Child Passenger Safety Week, an annual campaign to bring attention to the importance of properly securing children in the car every trip, every time. The campaign ends on Saturday with “National Seat Check Saturday”, a day when certified child passenger safety technicians will provide child seat inspections and advice for free.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 3 out of 4 car seats are not used correctly. The following excellent list, compiled by Lisa Carneal, a certified passenger safety technician, identifies some of the most common errors parents make when installing their child’s car seat or buckling them into it.

Common Car Seat Errors

LATCH and Seat Belt Errors

  • Using LATCH in a center seating position when it is not allowed by the manufacturer – most vehicles do not permit you to install a car seat in the center, using the two inner LATCH anchors from the side seating positions. Check your vehicle and child restraint manuals. If nothing is specifically mentioned to allow it, don’t do it.
  • Using LATCH and a seat belt together – you must use one system or the other, not both. Either method is safe when used correctly, so go with the method that gets you the easiest/best install.
  • Not using the top tether anchor when the lower LATCH anchors are used for a forward facing seat – the top tether MUST be used when a seat is installed forward facing with LATCH.
  • Using the LATCH system beyond its weight limit – most vehicles and car seats have a weight limit for using LATCH, usually 40 or 48 lb. Check your vehicle and car seat manuals for this information. Sometimes it is not in the vehicle manual and you will need to contact the manufacturer by phone, or ask a CPST to look up the information for you in their LATCH manual. If the vehicle and car seat manuals defer to one another, err on the side of caution and assume a 40 lb limit.
  • Incorrect seat belt routing on a booster – make sure to read and follow the instructions for how to route the seat belt correctly over your child. Many boosters have arm rests that need the lap belt routed under them instead of over.
  • Seat belt not locked – a seat belt must lock at the retractor or the latchplate to hold a car seat securely. If it locks at the retractor, you must pull the seat belt out as far as it goes and then feed it back into the retractor. Sometimes a ratcheting noise is audible. Gently pull on the belt to test and make sure it is locked. Ask a CPST for help in identifying the locking mechanism on your seat belts if you are unsure.
  • Loose car seat install – a car seat must be installed tightly enough that there is an inch or less of movement in all directions at the belt path when pushed or pulled on.
  • Incorrect belt path used on convertible seat install – you must use the belt path designated for the type of install you are doing. Usually the rear facing belt path runs under the child’s bottom/legs and the forward facing belt path runs behind their back.

Harness Errors

  • Harness in the wrong position – straps must come out at or below the shoulders for rear facing; at or above for forward facing.
  • Harness twisted – straps must lay completely flat every time the seat is used. A twisted harness will not distribute weight correctly in a crash and could cause injury.
  • Harness too loose – straps must be very snug; you should not be able to pinch a horizontal fold in the harness webbing at the child’s collar bone.
  • Improperly routed harness – make sure that the harness is going through the same slots on the cover as on the shell of the seat. This mistake usually happens when the straps are moved to a different slot or when the seat has been taken apart for cleaning.
  • Chest clip out of position (usually too low) – the chest clip should be at armpit level at all times.
  • Thick coats/snow suits/buntings/seat liners (including the Bundle Me and similar items) – bulky items can cause the harness to be too loose to adequately protect the child, and items that go between the baby and the seat/harness can interfere with correct positioning of the harness. To test the thickness of a clothing item, put it on your child and then strap them into their car seat with the straps tightened normally. Unbuckle them without changing the harness tightness and remove the item of clothing. Strap them in again, still leaving the harness at the same tightness. If you can fit more than one finger under the harness at the collar bone, it’s too loose and the item of clothing is too bulky for the car seat. To keep kids warm safely, use fleece jackets/snowsuits/ponchos, “shower cap” type covers for infant seats, or, after the child is securely buckled in, put a blanket on them or put their coat on backwards.

Car Seat Limit Errors

  • Forward facing too soon – a child must be at least one year old AND 20 lb before forward facing. Keep in mind that this is a very bare minimum; children are MUCH safer rear facing for as long as possible. Research has shown rear facing in the second year of life to be 5 times safer than forward facing.
  • In a booster too soon – children, especially those under 40 lb, are best protected in a 5 point harness. A child must fit the seatbelt appropriately and be able to stay correctly positioned in a seat belt for the entire car ride if they are in a booster. Most children under age 5 do not yet have this maturity, and most of them are also too small to get a good fit. Use the harness on your child’s forward facing car seat until they outgrow it or at least until 5 years and 40 lb.
  • In a seat belt too soon – children need to pass the 5 step test before they can safely ride in an adult seat belt without a booster. 1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat? 2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat? 3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm? 4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs? 5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip? If the answer to any of these is “no,” the child should ride in an appropriate child safety seat or booster.
  • Using a seat beyond its limits – read your seat’s manuals and labels carefully to be sure your child fits within the limits. Many of them go to 80 or 100 lb as a booster, but only to 40 or 50 lb with the harness. Height limits are more arbitrary since children are all proportioned differently, but weight limits are set in stone. A rear facing seat is generally outgrown when the child reaches the rear facing weight limit OR their head is less than an inch from the top of the car seat’s shell. A forward facing harnessed seat is generally outgrown when the child’s shoulders are above the top harness slots OR the tops of the child’s ears are above the shell of the seat OR the child reaches the weight limit on the harness, whichever happens first.

General Misuse

  • Aftermarket accessories (head positioners, body padding/positioners, strap covers, hanging toys, under car seat mats/upholstery protectors, mirrors, suction cup window shades, seat belt tighteners/ratchets, bunting bags/liners, custom car seat covers, etc.) – if it did not come with your seat or is not specifically allowed by your car seat manual, don’t use it. The less “stuff” involved in your car seat install, the better. Nothing extra should go between the car seat and vehicle seat, the baby and the car seat, or the baby and the harness. Toys, mirrors, and window shades can come loose in a crash and injure passengers. Mats can interfere with an install. Many manufacturers will void the seat’s warranty if aftermarket products are used. There are no safety standards for these items, so even those that claim to be “crash tested” or “meet all federal safety standards” (there are none!) cannot be trusted as safe.
  • Using an expired car seat – car seats are made mostly of molded plastic, which degrades and becomes brittle over time. Because of this, along with ongoing advances in safety research and technology, car seats have an expiration date and should not be used beyond it. Check your car seat’s manual and the shell of the seat itself for this information. Most brands have a 6-7 year lifespan from the time of manufacture (NOT from the first use of the seat).
  • Using a seat that has been in a crash – due to damage that cannot be seen from looking at the car seat, most manufacturers say to replace their seats after ANY crash, even a minor one. Check your seat’s manual to see what the manufacturer’s policy is, and always err on the side of caution if you have any doubts.
  • Using a seat with unknown history – buying a used seat from a stranger or a consignment shop, or renting a seat can put your child at risk because you don’t know if the seat has been maintained appropriately, if it has ever been in a crash, if it has been recalled, etc. Don’t put your child in a used car seat unless you can investigate the history of it and trust the previous user’s answers with your child’s life.
  • Improperly cleaning a car seat – most seats have a removable cover that is hand or machine washable, but harness/LATCH/tether straps should NEVER be washed in a washing machine or with harsh cleaners. This can stretch them or otherwise weaken the fibers. Check your seat’s manual for specific instructions on what can be done to clean your seat’s straps. If they are beyond cleaning, you can usually order a replacement set from the manufacturer. Be very careful to reassemble the seat correctly after cleaning it.
  • Using a car seat for a function it does not perform – make sure you follow the instructions for your seat. Infant seats should NEVER be installed forward facing, and convertible seats that do not become boosters should not be used as a booster.

I will admit, after reading this list, that I’m guilty of a few of these mistakes myself – using the BundleMe on our infant car seat, buckling our daughter in with her coat on (though pulling the front flaps out of the way of the seat belt – appears that may not be good enough), and using a mat under our car seats.

According to Lisa, even if you think you have everything right, it’s always a good idea to have your seats checked. It is a CPST’s job to help parents use their car seats properly.

Inspection stations featuring certified technicians can often be found at police stations, hospitals, fire stations, and AAA offices.  You can use NHTSA’s searchable database to locate the inspection station nearest you, including those hosting Child Passenger Safety Week events. I’ll be looking to take advantage of this weekend’s opportunity to confirm whether my children’s seats (especially with the mats) are installed properly.

For more information and advice regarding car seat safety, check out the forums at

Please leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts.

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Related Articles:
Is Your Baby Ready to Face Forward in the Car?
Is Your Booster Seat Safe? IIHS Releases 2010 Booster Seat Ratings

Getting Through the Airport with your Kids…AND your Sanity

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Whether traveling by myself or with my kids, I dread the task of getting through airport security and getting to the gate on time. Perhaps that is because I frequent Dulles airport which, in my experience, has the world’s slowest and least traveler-friendly (never mind family-friendly) security and, until recently, was one of a handful of airports that still used “people movers” to transport people between gates and the main terminal. But I digress…

Any parent traveling with a child feels some level of anxiety about getting through security, and I think that anxiety is multiplied tenfold when you have to either do it alone or with multiple kids.

Imagine how I felt after our most recent trip, our second in 2 months with 2 girls (ages 2 1/2 and 4 months), when we received comments from fellow passengers and airport/flight personnel like “You look like you’ve done this before” and “You all are quite efficient.” We even managed to get through security with no evil stares or rolling of the eyes! Yay!!! In fact, after we made it through security, we were stopped by a man who asked us for some tips for his daughter and her 4 week old who he expects will do some traveling in the near future. Can you believe it? I think we’re getting the hang of it!

Not to say that we’ve got it all figured out, but I thought I’d share our “system” and a few tips that have helped us get to the plane on time and with our sanity in tact:

How we I pack:

Let’s face it – in most families I know, Mom does most of the packing. In our house, Dad is responsible for the technology – cameras, phones, portable DVD player, chargers, etc. He waltzes in the last half hour of packing – throws in his toiletries and a few shirts and pants out of the closet, and voila, he’s done. He makes it look so easy after I’ve spent the whole night packing for me and the girls and preparing for every contingency: cold, hot, rain, not…

So we have our suitcase or two that will get checked. And below are the items we take to the airplane. Now, you could check the car seats and take a double stroller, but my preference is to have the kids in car seats on the plane, and we often don’t need a stroller at our destination. A carrier for the baby will usually do. So here is how we accomplish it:

For the infant

A lightweight travel stroller,with a large storage basket for your things. Lightweight and compact means it will be easy to lift and put on the belt for the scanner. Make sure it is easy to fold and that you remember how to fold it (I forgot how to fold my stroller one time since I hadn’t used it in a while and ended up fumbling at security until finally they said just bring it through).
Infant Car Seat (minus the base). We take our infant car seat to the gate in hopes that we can snag an extra seat on the plane. Otherwise, we’ll pack it up in the carrier bag and gate check it.


Car seat travel bag. See above. This and the remaining items get packed in the stroller.


Baby carrier – for boarding with baby. As my babies get older, I take the Ergo; but with my infant, I love my Moby. For those who have one and are concerned, it’s really not too difficult to put on in a public place. I just keep the ends off the ground by setting them on the baby’s car seat. And keep in mind, the ends just hang around your waist – they don’t touch the baby, so if it happens to grace the ground, it’s not the end of the world.
Diaper bag. I prefer a backpack– when your hands are full, you’re not bumping it into passengers as you go up the aisle on the plane.


For the toddler

A rolling suitcase.


A toddler car seat. We take her seat on the plane because she’s much more comfortable and able to sleep than she otherwise would be.


Traveling Toddler car seat accessory. A simple $15 contraption that uses the LATCH system on the car seat to attach it to the suitcase. Voila – you have a stroller.


Squeaky shoes. We never go to the airport without these. Wherever our daughter steps, her shoes squeak. Not that she’s ever walked away, but we ALWAYS know where she is.


Before the trip:

Check the TSA website for the latest updates and restrictions before you pack.

If you’re traveling with a toddler, prepare them for what to expect. While my daughter has traveled numerous times, her anxiety about things changes with the wind so this year I bought the book, “Going on a Plane”. She loved the book and, when we got to the airport, was very excited about security and baggage claim because she’d seen them both in her book before the trip.

Give yourself plenty of time. Plan an extra half hour when traveling with kids. It’s no fun for any of you to be rushed.

Be organized and have a plan. Decide who will be responsible for each child and for which travel items. My husband was in charge of our toddler, her car seat, his laptop/bag, and the suitcase. I took charge of our infant, her car seat, the stroller, and all the items in it. A few tips:

Have liquids easily accessible. Note: Breastmilk, formula, and baby food are allowed through security in amounts over the general limit and do not need to be in a Ziploc, but they will need to be tested. Be prepared to hand them over to a security agent once you get through the scanner.

Make sure your pockets are empty, and don’t wear any jewelry.

Designate one person responsible for travel documents – that way you’re not getting to the other side and asking who has the boarding passes. This is a good idea for the entire trip – My husband is always in charge of our boarding passes and driver’s licenses.

Wear shoes that can be easily removed – that includes your kids. They will be asked to remove their shoes too. Skip shoelaces or buckles, and go for Velcro or slip-ons.

Arrival & Check-in:

Everything gets unloaded – baggage before the kids so you can get everything situated. We traditionally have 3 suitcases as we tend to take long trips to visit family, so two of them get hooked together while the third, our carry-on, is reserved for our toddler and her car seat. We load up the travel stroller, and then our carry-on and stroller are ready for the kids.

Both the girls are taken out of the car in their car seats – that includes our toddler. My husband just releases the LATCH system and picks her up in her seat and sets her on the curb. The infant is set in the traveling stroller in her car seat, and my husband attaches our toddler and her car seat to the carry-on.

At check-in, ask about available seating for your infant if you haven’t purchased a seat. You can ask again at the gate, but sometimes a friendly check-in agent can rearrange seating for you and your family next to an available seat and even make note for gate agents not to reserve that particular seat.


Use the designated “family” lane if available. You’ll find security agents and fellow travelers who are much more sympathetic and usually helpful here.

Remember: Everything goes through security. I’ve heard people mention that they’ve been able to push their strollers through security or carry their babies in a carrier, but more often than not you’ll be asked to take the baby out of the carrier/stroller/car seat to send it through the scanner. If it doesn’t fit on the scanner, it’ll have to be wanded.

Okay, so here’s how we do it: We leave the kids in their car seats until the last possible moment. As I mentioned, hubby gets the toddler; I get the infant.

  1. Remove everyone’s shoes and toss them in a tray.
  2. Disconnect the toddler’s car seat from the carry-on, and remove the infant car seat from the stroller leaving both kids strapped in their seats for the time being.
  3. Empty the stroller, and place all your things on the belt. Remove liquids.
  4. Fold your stroller, and place it on the belt.
  5. Remove kids from their car seats, and place seats on the belt (upside down).
  6. Walk through security, and gather your things on the other side, starting with the car seats. If possible, move out of the way of other travelers to a separate bench or table.
  7. Put the kids back in their car seats, and take inventory. Off you go!

Gate check and boarding:

Check in with the gate agent. As soon as you arrive at the gate (and/or as soon as an attendant is available),

  1. Ask (again to confirm) about available seating for your infant.
  2. Get your gate check tags for your stroller and car seat, if necessary.
  3. Ask for pre-boarding for families. Most times, this is a given, but sometimes the attendants forget or are crunched for time. You’re going to need a few minutes at the bottom of the ramp to unload your gear, and being able to walk up the aisle and get situated before everyone backs up behind you is going to be a major sanity-saver.

Bag and tag your car seat, tag the stroller, and put baby in the carrier. You are ready to board. I like to walk with my baby and get her asleep before boarding because she’ll sleep right through take-off much better than she will nurse or suck on a pacifier. (FYI – you will need to take the baby out of the carrier during take off, so be prepared to open up/remove your carrier).

Boarding the plane. My husband wheels our toddler down the ramp, while I carry the baby and the diaper bag and wheel the stroller down the ramp. At the bottom, he disconnects our toddler, and I fold the stroller. If we’re taking the infant seat on the plane, I’ll carry it on. Otherwise, I’ll help with the carry on and my husband will carry the toddler in her car seat onto the plane. Alternatively, we get the toddler out of her seat, let her walk onto the plane while my husband carries her car seat in one hand and the carry on in the other. This is the part we think could still be improved – we’re thinking of getting my husband a carry strap for the car seat so he can put it on his back before we even head down the ramp.

You’ve made it!

Now, if only you can make it to your destination with what’s left of your sanity. For some tips, read Keeping the Peace a Mile High – 6 Tips for Traveling with Baby.


Is Your Baby Ready to Face Forward in the Car?

Ask most parents when is the proper time, and you’ll hear what pediatricians have said for years: when your child reaches the age of 1 year and a minimum of 20 lbs. Surprisingly, though, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its policy statement on car safety seats in 2002 to add:

“If a car safety seat accommodates children rear facing to higher weights, for optimal protection, the child should remain rear facing until reaching the maximum weight for the car safety seat, as long as the top of the head is below the top of the seat back.”

Yet many parents are still advised only of the one year and 20 lb rule.

More recently, however, the AAP has changed its tune. 2 is the new 1. A commentary published by the AAP in March 2008 recommends that all children under the age of 2 ride in a rear-facing seat. This recommendation is based on the findings in a recent study, most notably:

(1) Children under the age of 2 years are 75% less likely to die or sustain serious injury when in a rear-facing seat.

(2) In children between the age of 12 and 23 months, the odds of severe injury were more than 5 times higher when forward-facing.

Did you hear that? Our babies are 5 times safer and 75% less likely to die in a rear-facing seat! So if your child is not yet 2 and is forward-facing, please turn your baby around.

If you need a little more convincing, check out this video on rear-facing vs forward-facing.

While the AAP’s official policy statement has not yet changed, the President of the AAP, Dr. Dave Tayloe, comments that pediatricians should “encourage parents to keep their children in rear-facing car seats as long as they do not exceed the size limits of the car seats.”

Update: In April 2011, the AAP finally issued an updated policy statement eliminating the minimum requirement.

Now what is also interesting to note: The study cites statistics that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4, but the study only analyzed data for children up through age 2. This is because few children in the US use car seats rear facing past their second birthday, so data was not available for older age groups. Because of this, the commentary on the study says that it is not currently possible to determine at what month of age the study’s findings are no longer applicable. However, I think conclusions can be drawn from the fact that children in Sweden have been riding rear-facing until the age of 4 and very low death and injury rates have been reported.

I turned my 2 ½ year old forward-facing at the age of 2 because it seemed her legs were getting a bit cramped, but I’ve just taken her measurements and realized she has not yet maxed the limits of her convertible carseat. So you can bet I’m going out to the car tonight to turn her seat back around.


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