Babywearing on a plane

Can I wear my child on an airplane? Can I use the carrier during take off and landing? And then… What carrier should I take?

These questions are frequently asked in parenting and Babywearing groups and at times the specifics are a little light on detail and heavy on “well this is what I did…” So, this week, for Tips Tuesday we will spell it all out for you.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority Advisory Publication related to the Carriage of Persons states that fabric style infant carriers are carrying devices and unsuitable for use as a restraint system.

After reviewing the regulations and associated publications here is the Australian specifics…

– during TAKE OFF and LANDING, and any time the seatbelt light is illuminated, any child travelling on your lap MUST be using the loop seatbelt attachment provided by the airline.
– you may NOT use the seatbelt and a carrier over the top when seatbelt light is on. The advisory publication specifically covers this and states that they may not be used in conjunction with the loop belt as the action of the restraint will be altered, with possibility of increased injury to the child. Airline staff are thus carrying out their job should they ask you to remove your child from the carrier or sling.

– You CAN use a carrier to walk up and down aisles and in your seat in between the above times, providing the seatbelt light is off.

For babywearing travellers there is quite the advantage to using a carrier over a seatbelt during flight so that child can be settled and comforted using a familiar parenting practice. Should it become necessary (turbulence/preparation for landing) the carrier can be quickly slipped off and child is on lap of adult carer with provided seatbelt already in place. Whilst regulation specifically covers that it may not be used together when seat belt use is compulsory there was nothing noted to restrict dual use at other times.

The last point of discussion to cover is what carrier? Every Babywearer will have a different favourite carrier, or a favourite for a specific purpose, or just one or two carriers in which case the decision is easy!

A soft structured carrier is a very popular option for travelling as it is quick and easy with minimal adjustments required, it can allow front and back carries, and you can leave the waist belt buckled. Negatives to a SSC include something additional around your waist with potential for discomfort over lengthier periods of time and that it is bulkier to put in a carry on bag when not in use.

All things considered my favourite would be my trusty ring sling. Whilst as a downfall it does require some adjusting – for in seat use perfection isn’t necessary! What it does offer to a regular ring sling user is that it is quick to put on to board, can easily put it on whilst seated, takes minimal space in carry on if not in use, if seated the carrier can even be used as a makeshift cover/security blanket, it is comfy to have on when sitting for long periods, and then when time comes to remove the carrier in preparation for landing… Well I hope you can see that a picture (or in this case a movie) is worth a thousand words! Safe travelling!