Do Toddlers Need Car Seats on Airplanes?

Do Toddlers Need Car Seats on Airplanes?

Traveling with toddlers can be challenging, especially when it comes to ensuring their safety and comfort during air travel. Parents may wonder whether they need to bring car seats on airplanes or if it’s safe for their little ones to sit on their laps.

The truth is, car seats are strongly recommended for toddlers during air travel, not only to protect them in case of turbulence or other in-flight incidents but also to provide a more comfortable and secure seating arrangement.

Key Takeaways:

  • Car seats are recommended for toddlers during air travel for their safety and comfort.
  • FAA regulations allow for the use of child restraint systems on flights.
  • Selecting the appropriate car seat for airplane travel is important.
  • Tips for traveling with toddlers on airplanes include managing their sleep schedule and bringing essential items for the flight.

Understanding FAA Regulations for Traveling with Toddlers

Traveling with toddlers can be a challenge, especially when it comes to ensuring their safety on airplanes. Fortunately, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides guidelines for the use of child restraint systems on flights to help parents keep their little ones safe and secure.

The FAA recommends that all children under the age of 2 be secured in an FAA-approved child restraint system, such as a car seat, during air travel. While it is not required by law, using a car seat on airplanes is the safest way for toddlers to travel.

Child Restraint Devices Allowed on Airlines Notes
FAA-approved car seats Must be labeled with “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”
FAA-approved harness-type restraint systems Must be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions and labeled for use on aircraft.
CARES Child Aviation Restraint System The device is attached to the airplane seat and the passenger’s lap for children up to 40 pounds.
Lap belts Can be provided by the airline for use on infants held by an adult during the flight.

It’s important to note that the FAA does not allow the use of booster seats, inflatable seat belts, or lap-held child restraints during takeoff, landing, or whenever the seat belt light is on.

Child Restraint System Requirements by Airline

While the FAA provides guidelines for child restraint systems on airplanes, individual airlines may have additional rules and regulations. It’s important for parents to check with their airline before their flight to ensure they are in compliance with all rules and regulations.

Benefits of Using Car Seats on Airplanes

Using car seats on airplanes can provide several benefits for both parents and toddlers.

Firstly, a car seat can enhance the safety of the toddler during the flight. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommends that children under the age of 2 years old ride in an FAA-approved child restraint system, such as a car seat, for maximum protection. In the event of turbulence or unexpected turbulence, a car seat can keep the toddler secure and prevent them from getting injured.

Secondly, using a car seat can provide parents with peace of mind during the flight. When traveling with a young child, parents can often feel overwhelmed and anxious. Using a car seat can help alleviate some of these worries by providing a familiar and secure environment for the toddler.

Thirdly, a car seat can provide added comfort for the toddler. Many toddlers are used to traveling in their car seats, which can help them feel more relaxed and at ease during the flight. Additionally, a car seat can provide a comfortable and supportive place for the child to sleep or rest during the flight.

Overall, using car seats on airplanes can provide numerous benefits for both parents and toddlers, including enhanced safety, peace of mind, and added comfort.

Tips for Traveling with Toddlers on Airplanes

Traveling with toddlers can be a challenging experience, especially on airplanes. To make the experience more manageable, here are some practical tips and strategies:

1. Pack plenty of snacks and drinks

Toddlers often get cranky when they’re hungry or thirsty, so pack plenty of snacks and drinks to keep them satisfied during the flight. Opt for healthy snacks, such as fruit and yoghurt, and avoid sugary treats that could give them a sugar rush.

2. Bring along some new toys and activities

To keep your toddler entertained during the flight, pack a few new toys or games they haven’t played with before. This will help to keep them occupied and prevent boredom from setting in. Coloring books, stickers or small puzzles can also be great options.

3. Stick to their routine as much as possible

Travel can disrupt your toddler’s routine, which can cause irritability and sleep issues. To minimize this, try to stick to their regular routine as much as possible in terms of meal times, naps and bedtimes.

4. Consider investing in a travel car seat

Investing in a travel car seat can be a great option for air travel. Not only will it keep your toddler safe and secure during the flight, it can also provide them with a familiar and comfortable place to sit. Be sure to choose a car seat that is approved for airplane use.

5. Plan for naps and sleep time

Toddlers often need plenty of sleep, so plan ahead for nap and sleep time during the flight. Bring along items that will help them sleep, such as a small pillow or blanket, and try to schedule nap times in line with their regular routine.

6. Be prepared for potential challenges

Despite your best efforts, there may be times when your toddler becomes fussy or inconsolable during the flight. Be prepared for these situations by bringing along various distractions, such as books or toys, and remain patient and calm.

Choosing the Right Car Seat for Airplane Travel

When traveling with toddlers, choosing the right car seat for airplane travel is crucial for both safety and comfort. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a car seat for your little one:

Factor Considerations
Size and Weight Look for a car seat that is lightweight and easy to carry, yet sturdy and durable enough to meet safety standards. Make sure it fits within the size limits imposed by your airline.
Airline Compatibility Check with your airline for any specific requirements or restrictions regarding car seats for airplane travel. Some airlines may require certain labels or certifications.
Type of Car Seat Choose between a rear-facing or forward-facing car seat, depending on your child’s age, weight, and height. Infant car seats are also available for younger babies.
Installation and Security Ensure that the car seat is easy to install and can be secured properly on the airplane seat. Look for models with clear instructions and adjustable straps or buckles.

Remember that the car seat you choose must comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations for child restraint systems on flights. The FAA recommends that parents use a car seat for children up to 40 pounds or until they reach the age of four.

Ensuring a Comfortable Flight for Your Toddler

Traveling with a toddler can be a daunting task, especially on a long flight. However, with a little preparation, you can make the experience comfortable and less stressful for both you and your child. Here are some tips to help you:

Pack the Essentials

Make sure to pack your child’s favorite toys, books, and snacks to keep them entertained during the flight. Also, don’t forget to bring a change of clothes, diapers, wipes, and any other necessary items.

Stay on Schedule

If possible, keep your child’s sleep and meal schedule as close to their routine as possible. This will help them adjust to the time difference and feel more comfortable during the flight.

Manage In-Flight Meals

If your child has special dietary needs, make sure to inform the airline in advance. You can also bring your own snacks and meals to ensure your child is comfortable and well-fed. Be sure to bring a spill-proof cup or bottle for drinks.

Maintain a Routine

Stick to your child’s regular activities, such as reading before bedtime or singing a lullaby, to help them feel at home and comfortable. This can also help signal to your child that it’s time to sleep.

Provide Comfort and Support

Bring a soft blanket, pillow, or stuffed animal to help your child feel at ease and comforted during the flight. You might also consider bringing a carrier or sling to hold your child during the flight.

By following these tips, you can help ensure a comfortable and enjoyable flight for your toddler.

Addressing Common Concerns about Car Seats on Airplanes

Many parents have concerns about using car seats on airplanes, but it’s important to understand that the safety benefits outweigh any potential discomfort or inconvenience. Here are some common concerns and misconceptions, along with the facts:

Concern Facts
Car seats are not allowed on airplanes. Car seats are allowed on airplanes and encouraged by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Most airlines allow the use of FAA-approved child restraint systems, including car seats.
Car seats are bulky and inconvenient to carry on planes. While car seats can be bulky, many models are designed specifically for travel and are lightweight and easy to carry. Additionally, some airlines offer the option to rent car seats upon arrival.
My child will be uncomfortable in a car seat for the duration of the flight. While it’s true that car seats can be uncomfortable for long periods of sitting, there are ways to ensure your child is comfortable, such as bringing a pillow or blanket for additional cushioning. It’s also important to remember that an uncomfortable child is more likely to be fussy and difficult to manage during the flight.
My child will be too big for a car seat and won’t fit comfortably. Many car seats are designed to accommodate children up to 65 pounds or more, so it’s unlikely that your child will be too big for a car seat on a plane. Additionally, some airlines offer additional seating options for larger children, such as a harness system or booster seat.

Overall, using a car seat on an airplane is one of the best ways to ensure the safety and comfort of your toddler during air travel. Don’t let concerns or misconceptions discourage you from using this important safety measure.


Traveling with toddlers on airplanes can be stressful and challenging for parents. However, ensuring the safety and comfort of your little one should always be a top priority. The use of car seats on airplanes is not only recommended, but also required by the FAA. By using a car seat, you can provide your child with the same level of safety they would have in a car, and give yourself peace of mind during the flight.

Choose the Right Car Seat

When selecting a car seat for airplane travel, it is important to consider the size, weight, and compatibility with airline regulations. Look for a car seat that is lightweight and easy to install, and that meets the FAA’s requirements for child restraint systems on flights.

Keep Your Toddler Comfortable

Packing a few essentials, such as snacks and toys, can go a long way in making the flight more comfortable for your toddler. Consider bringing a blanket and pillow to help your child get some rest, and keep their routine as consistent as possible to help them feel more at ease.

Add Some Fun to the Flight

Managing your toddler’s entertainment during the flight can help keep them occupied and prevent meltdowns. Bring along some of their favorite toys, books, games, or even a tablet loaded with their favorite movies or TV shows.

Final Thoughts

Traveling with toddlers can be a daunting experience, but with the right preparations and mindset, it can also be an enjoyable one. Remember to follow the FAA’s regulations for child restraint systems on flights, choose the right car seat, keep your toddler comfortable, and add some fun to the flight. With these tips, you can make air travel with your little one a safe and stress-free experience for everyone involved.