In addition to barbeques, splash pads, and late nights, summer also often brings air travel. As a caregiver of young children, the idea of traveling can be daunting, especially the first time. I first flew with my son when he was 7 months old. We took two airplane trips with him alone and another when he was 3 and his little sister was 10 months old. Babywearing was a lifesaver for all three of those trips!
Getting Through the Airport
There are many considerations for managing belongings and children as you get through the airport: strollers, car seat carts, walking, and babywearing. After we get dropped off at the airport, we strap our car seats with bungee cords to our rolling luggage and our children to our backs with carriers. We prefer to use babywearing for getting children through the airport so hands are free to manage everything else. For a child old enough to be worn on your back, I prefer to back wear so I have more range of motion for carrying and bending. On our most recent airport adventure, my husband wore our 3.5 year old and I wore our 10 month old, both on our backs.
Getting Through Security
In most situations, you are able to wear a child through security. We have never personally experienced an issue wearing an infant, toddler, or preschooler through the checkpoints. However, I have heard of situations when a TSA agent would not allow it. In that case, don’t get yourself detained, have a back-up plan. You might have to remove your child from the carrier and walk through with them in your arms.
We prefer to wear our children through security because there are so many things to juggle at that time. I prefer not to worry about keeping an eye on my children too! When they are in a carrier, I know they are with me, and safe.
After arriving at security, you will follow the same procedures as everyone else, which may include taking off shoes, removing liquids, emptying pockets, and putting all items on the screening belt. When you get to the front of the line, request to go through the metal detector. After going through the metal detector, your hands will be swabbed with a cloth to test for explosive residue. Then you are free to go and gather all of your things.
When choosing your carrier, it is best to pick one without metal (for example, ring slings have metal rings) because the metal can set off the metal detectors. Otherwise, choose a carrier that is comfortable for the person who will be doing the wearing through the airport!
On the Airplane
You can wear your child in the carrier throughout the airport and onto the plane. I prefer to take off the child I am wearing and put them in a seat while I install the car seat (so I don’t bonk their head on something!). A child can be worn in a carrier before, during, and after a flight. Although it is not mandatory, the FAA recommends that all children have their own seat and are in a properly installed and used car seat. When it is time for take-off or landing, children in a carrier must be removed, and held in an adult’s lap or put in their seat, per FAA requirements. A carrier is not a restraint device and cannot securely hold a child during an issue with take-off or landing. In the case of a crash, the child would become the “airbag” of the wearer. After take-off, you are able to put your child back in the carrier until landing. After landing, you can put your child back in the carrier to deplane and make your way back through the airport!
Traveling with little ones involves so many logistics, a huge amount of stuff, and a lot of planning. Using babywearing as a tool can take one thing off your plate and make the rest of it just a little easier to manage.
For specifics about air travel with car seats, you can read my post here.
Stephanie Hopkins is a contributing writer who is a Center for Babywearing Studies graduate. Follow her story at redbarnbasics.com.
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