Babies and their gear can get pretty expensive, so I think I’ll spend a few hundred more dollars on her. We’re flying to San Diego in a few months, and we bought Miri a seat and we’re bringing her car seat on board.
Since the FAA is not yet requiring that infants under two ride in their own seat, in a restrained in a safety device on airplanes, it is left up to parents to make that decision. And while I believe there eleventy-billion ways to parent and most of them are probably right, and how you parent your own child is your own business, there are few things I just can’t abide. This includes breakfast burritos, any Tom Hanks movies post-1998, and lap babies on airplanes. The FAA requires all children over two years old to have their own seat, and even warns against lap babies for infants under two, stating on its Child Safety website, “the safest place for your child on an airplane is in a government-approved safety restraint system (CRS) or device, not on your lap. Your arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence.” An unrestrained infant becomes a deadly projectile in the event of turbulence or a crash. Just this past February, a United flight from Denver to Billings experienced such severe turbulence that an infant was thrown from its mother’s arms. In 1994 USAir flight 1016 landing at Charlotte experienced a microburst and crashed upon landing. Thirty-seven passengers died, two of them infants. The babies had been riding in their parents’ laps, were thrown upon impact, then died in the fire. Their parents walked off unscathed. Following this accident and the ensuing NTSB investigation, the Board recommended to the FAA that children under the age of two be restrained during takeoff, landing and during turbulence. While the FAA conducted tests of child safety restraints, it has yet to do anything other than simply recommend their use. That was in 1995.
I used to think that since having kids was probably pretty hard, parents should take advantage of whatever perks they could. Kids eat free, drive in the carpool lane, board planes first, save money on an airplane seat as long as you can. But once I started reading about car seat safety, and then infant safety on planes, I realized that just because the FAA doesn’t require infants to be restrained, it doesn’t mean they are safe on your laps. I’m a safety freak in most things, so now that I know this I can’t take that risk with Miri.
My other reason for buying her a seat on the plane is that she is simply the squirmiest, squirrelliest, wiggliest baby. She is only still when she’s sleeping, and then only for a few moments at a time as she does crib gymnastics in her sleep. Trying to hold her on your lap is an exercise in futility. You will wind up with a Glasgow kiss, your hair pulled, your eyeballs poked, a black eye, and your eardrums ruptured from her frustrated shrieks. She is much happier sitting in her car seat, even if I have to hold my iPad in front of her and press repeat on Daniel Tiger ad finitum. Other passengers and their eardrums will thank me. So yeah, my motives are also quite selfish and for my own convenience, I do admit.