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Why it's Worth Buying Toddlers Their Own Seats on a Plane

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For Women & Co., by Heather Spohr, TheSpohrsAreMultiplying.com

One of the perks of having a child under the age of 2 is that you can take them to so many places for free. Amusement parks, baseball stadiums and zoos are just a few favorite spots that charge no admission for the littlest members of our families. You can even fly with a child under the age of 2 as long as they travel as a "lap baby." This can mean major savings, but is it worth it?

Being able to skip buying a plane ticket for your little one sounds wonderful in theory, but unfortunately in doing so, parents are putting their child's life in their own hands -- literally. Lap babies are secured only by their parent's arms, and this puts them at the risk of harm throughout the entirety of the flight. A Safety Alert released by The National Transport Safety Board warns against traveling with lap babies because parents may not be able to maintain a secure hold on their child during take off, landing or severe turbulence, and tragically, children under the age of 2 have died while riding as lap babies -- deaths that could have been prevented with the use of a child restraint system.

I can understand the allure of a free flight for your little one. In the past, I traveled with my daughter, Annabel, as a lap baby, but I wouldn't do it again. I remember at one point during the flight the pilot ordered the flight attendants to sit and fasten their seat belts, and it occurred to me that my daughter (and any other lap babies on the flight) were the only people on the plane who weren't fastened in. That was a sobering thought, and reason enough for me to buy my little ones their own seats in the future.

Buying your child his or her own seat is just the start of ensuring your child's safety. You will also need to bring a child restraint system (typically a car seat) for your child to sit in on the plane. Be sure to measure it ahead of time to make sure it is less than sixteen inches wide and will fit in a plane seat, and also confirm that it is government approved (if it is, it will have the words "this restraint is certified for motor vehicles and aircrafts" printed on it). If you have a child who is older than 2 but weighs less than forty pounds, bring a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved harness-style restraint for him or her to wear. For more great child safety tips, check out this informative list from the FAA.

While there are some things in life we can cut corners on, there others, like the safety of our loved ones, that we never should. Be aware that you may be able to get your child a reduced priced seat by contacting your airline directly. Many airlines now offer discounts of up to 50 percent for lap baby-aged passengers, so don't be afraid to ask. And, take heart -- you may have to buy your little one a ticket on your family's next plane ride, but he or she is still free at the amusement park, baseball stadium and zoo all summer long!

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