Traveling with an Infant

  • Long road trips with your baby are not recommended.
  • A baby’s head is heavy in proportion to their body, so sleeping at an angle in a car seat can lead to suffocation.
  • If you must travel, stop often and take your baby completely out of the car seat to help them breathe better and more easily.
  • For babies four weeks old and younger, travel no more than 30 minutes in a car seat whenever possible.
Child Safety
Car Seat Safety
Car Seat Recommendations

Car Seats

Your child's height and weight determines the type of car seat needed

Rear-Facing Car Seats

Newborn to 2-Years

For a newborn to a child two years of age, a car seat must be able to be rear facing. This means the car seat is designed for the child to face the trunk of the vehicle at an inclined angle. Often, the first seat parents buy is called an “infant carrier.” These often have low height and weight maximums and become too small to be safe for your baby at or before they turn one year old.

Another option is to start with a “convertible” seat, which can be a rear-facing seat, then become a forward-facing seat as your child gets older/bigger. Convertible seats have larger weight and height limits for rear facing and will allow your child to be rear facing for a longer period. Learn more about child safety in cars from the CDC.

A child under the age of two does not have the neck strength to handle a car crash while forward facing; rear facing protects their neck and spinal cord from major injury or even death.

If you start with an infant carrier as your first car seat, then a convertible car seat is the second car seat you will buy.

In rear-facing car seats only, shoulder straps should start at or below the shoulder level from the adjustable strap slots.

It is safest to keep your child rear facing in the convertible seat until they reach either the height maximum or weight maximum (even if past two years old). Your child can become too tall or too heavy, depending on how they grow, and then it is time to have the car seat forward facing.

Always use a car seat when traveling

Most car seat manufacturers recommend not having an infant in a car seat longer than 2-hours at a time due to restricted breathing.

Learn MoreAbout the 2-Hour Rule

Front-Facing Car Seats

After 2-Years-old
Read your car seat's manualGenerally, a LATCH system and a seat belt will not be used at the same time to secure your car seat unless the manual for your seat states otherwise.

Learn Aboutthe 2-hour rule

When your child is over the age of two, forward facing is the next step. This is when you turn your convertible seat “forward” and adjust the angle and positioning the seat to face toward the front or hood of the car.

A forward-facing car seat will NOT be at the same angle as a seat that is rear facing. Read the owner’s manual for your car seat to see how to adjust the angle and install the seat for forward facing.

As always, with a car seat using a harness, the chest clip goes at armpit level and the strap is secure to shoulder. However, the shoulder harness should be at shoulder height or above the shoulder, not below, to keep your child safe in an accident when forward facing.

How to install different types of car seats and how to select the right seat for your child
Remember to always use the correct belt path.

In general, a rear-facing car seat will have a seat belt path at the bottom of the seat, while a forward-facing car seat will have the seat belt path towards the middle near your child’s back rest. A convertible seat will have both belt paths.

A car seat belt path must be “switched” to a locking mode or a belt clip must be used to secure the seat.

Simply threading a seat belt through the belt path is not safe for your child and will not properly secure the car seat.

How to Secure Car Seats

Car Seat Bootcamp

Enroll in our FREE Car Seat Bootcamp to learn how to securely install different car seat styles for use with newborns all the way up to kids who are ready for seat belts at 4 feet 9 inches tall.

The center of the headrest should be at ear level, the chest clip should be at armpit level, and shoulder straps should be snug to your child’s shoulder so that you cannot “pinch” the harness strap. This means that, even if you try to get extra material from the shoulder strap using a pinching motion, the strap stays flat and secure on your child’s shoulder.

Flying with an Infant

  • When flying domestic, one adult passenger may hold one infant in their lap. If you are traveling alone with two children under age 2, you must purchase a second seat.
  • Newborns may not be able to travel by airplane. Most airlines require babies to be anywhere from 2 to 14 days old at minimum and some airlines may even require a doctor’s note. If you must fly due to an emergency, check with your airline before traveling.
  • Newborns are at greater risk for infection by communicable diseases (diseases spread from one person to another) when traveling by plane. Talk with your health care provider if you plan to fly with your infant.
  • Breastmilk, formula, and juice for your infant or toddler can be carried in amounts larger than 3 ounces when flying. When going through security, let the TSA officer know if you have any of these liquids. The officer will x-ray and/or open the liquids. Ice packs or cooling gels are also allowed for keeping your liquids at the correct temperature. You may request that the liquids not be opened or x-rayed, but security will then need to take additional steps to complete the screening process.
Traveling with Children
Traveling while Breastfeeding