One of the most overwhelming parts of planning and taking vacation is worrying about flying with your baby or toddler. Recently, my husband and I took a short vacation to Colorado, which required us to take the almost 2 year old twins on their first flight. I made sure to plan ahead and asked my mother’s of multiples group if they had any recommendations.
The biggest response was to get the kids their own seats. However, the thought of paying for four seats made us reconsider the trip altogether. We decided to settle for three seats, which seemed reasonable, considering that the kids were small enough to both fit in one seat if they had enough of our laps. It turns out that the third seat gave us some much needed wiggle room on a overbooked flight.
The next most important decision was how to restrain the kids. A friend, and fellow mother of twins, let us borrow her CARES units (Child Aviation Restraint System). These are approved for use on children from 22-44 pounds. They are a great little device that turn an airplane lap belt into a four point restraint. There is a belt that goes around the seat and under the tray table on the back of the chair. It has two straps that come down, buckle together at the chest, and then have loops at the bottom. The airplane’s lap belt then goes through these bottom loops. There are plenty of adjustment straps to make sure the harness fits your child well.
What is the point? The other responsible option is to bring a FAA approved car seat. While it is very nice to have your own car seat with you when you travel, it is a pretty big pain to lug it on to the plane. We decided to rent car seats with our rental car while we were in Colorado, but if you would rather have your own and save on the rental fee, checking the car seat is much easier than taking it on the plane!
Another great part about the CARES unit is that it is easy to install and is super compact to cary along. Please check out their website to learn more about them. They even offer a discount to parents of twins, triplets, etc. if you are buying more than one at a time!
In order to make the inflight travel go smoother, we bought some backpacks and stuffed them full of entertainment. I packed some sticker books, board books, and a few small simple toys the kids could play with. They loved checking out the back pack. It had zippers to play with, velcro, a snap and…. Elmo was fuzzy! We practiced identifying the numbers and letters on the back pack as well as the colors. This entertained them for a bit. They really enjoyed looking at the provided magazines in the seat pocket. My son spent quite a while just reorganizing the seat pocket by pulling things out and then putting them back in.
If I could recommend one vital item it would be a DVD player.
This wound up being a great decision. We also have tons of pictures on our laptop and when the kids got tired of watching Finding Nemo (with hardly any sound due to the airplane noise) we looked at pictures. What kid doesn’t like seeing pictures of themselves?
We also followed the advice of everyone and made sure the kids had a snack and drink during takeoff and landing to help their ears pop with the pressure changes. This, however, did not help my screaming son on a turbulent decent into Denver. After a loud burp upon landing he promptly fell asleep on me while everyone else got off the plane. My daughter was happy playing with her sticker book through the entire decent. Every kid is different but I am so glad I have other people’s experiences to learn from!