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Three Ways to Keep a Toddler from Kicking the Airplane Seat in Front of You

toddler flying with CARES

Providing maximum leg room (and support) by using CARES is just one way you might help keep your toddler from kicking the airplane seat on your next flight.

Worried your toddler will not stop kicking the airplane seat in front of you on your next flight? You are not alone. Chances are there are a half dozen parents on your same flight worried their child may do the same, not to mention passengers on your future flight who may be seated in front of you.

Fear not. There are some steps you can take to help prevent this from becoming a problem–at least where your child is concerned. 😉


1. Book seats on the bulkhead row–Eureka!

The easiest way to keep a toddler from kicking the airplane seat back is to simply choose seats on the bulkhead row. Let’s face it, you can’t kick a seat that isn’t there. Just remember, the arm rests are usually fixed in place on these rows and can’t be raised out of the way, which can be helpful if you are planning on using a car seat for your child. If so, make sure you use a car seat with the narrowest possible footprint, and I encourage you to call the airline in advance to make sure your plane won’t have the lovely exploding seat belts on these rows (read up on airplanes with air bag safety belts in this post and see recommendations of the Best Car Seats for Travel on this page).


2. Turn around testy flights–before they begin.

If you are flying with a toddler that is still fairly small (up to 20 mos and older for some children), you may be able to install her car seat rear-facing on the airplane instead, which will avert the kicking-seat crisis altogether, while it also may help her focus on other, more constructive activities (in addition to low-sugar snacks and a video on your tablet or phone, see 5 screen-free favorites to keep kids busy in flight in this post and get loads more ideas in Planning Your In-Flight Entertainment in Chapter 16 of the new edition). Installing convertible car seats rear-facing on airplanes will not work in all situations, however, and some airlines simply won’t allow it (make sure you read the Exceptional Airlines section in the new edition of Travels with Baby and check for warnings of any airline you might choose to fly in the Airlines Table before flying with a rear-facing car seat of any kind).


3. Maximize leg room with CARES.

One final tip that can can help keep your toddler from kicking the airplane seat is to use the CARES flight safety harness instead of a car seat on airplanes. Not only is it easier to install on a bulkhead row with fixed arm rests, if that’s your plan (two preventative measures in one), but it can be used in virtually all non-emergency row seats on the airplane–this can help when your family has, say, three seats together and there are only two passengers on the row in front of you. With a car seat, your child must occupy the window seat, directly behind another passenger who no-doubt wants the window seat on his row. The other big advantage I’ve found in using CARES instead of car seats on flights with toddlers is leg room. Virtually all FAA-approved car seats will position the toddler closer to the seat in front of him, whereas the CARES harness will allow him the maximum sneaker-to-seat back distance. Be sure to read my full review of CARES here if you’re considering it.

And on that note, don’t forget there’s a CARES giveaway in progress!

Smoother travels ahead with the CARES flight safety harness and new edition of Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Travel with Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler.

Smoother travels ahead with the CARES flight safety harness and new edition of Travels with Baby. Let’s travel!

Follow this link for details on how you can win a CARES flight safety harness and new 2nd edition Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Travel with Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler. Ends midnight PST this Thursday, Feb. 13.

How about you?

Have you suffered through, survived, or conquered an airplane seat-kicking episode (share your wisdom with a comment to this post)? Do you know someone who should read this post? Thanks in advance for your shares!

Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby and Take-Along Travels with Baby   facebook   twitter   about the author   

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