I'm traveling with my baby. What should I do about the car seat? Gear You Didn't Know You Needed

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mother on plane with baby in car seat
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It's a great idea to plan a trip while your child is small and portable! But what do you do with that big heavy car seat while you're on the go? Here, a pediatrician and moms give their best tips for keeping baby safe -- and saving you some stress -- while traveling by plane, rental car, cab, or car service.

On a Plane, Baby Is Safest in a Car Seat

"When you have infant car seat, it's so easy to snap in and out of cars, I tell parents to use those. Having a car seat on the plane is really the safest way for your child to travel. But obviously it's a money issue for some to have to buy another ticket.

"Once your child is out of the infant seat, it gets more complicated. You can get a contraption that attaches to a convertible car seat [and] turn it into a stroller -- I liked using that but my husband hated it because security makes you...

"When you have infant car seat, it's so easy to snap in and out of cars, I tell parents to use those. Having a car seat on the plane is really the safest way for your child to travel. But obviously it's a money issue for some to have to buy another ticket.

"Once your child is out of the infant seat, it gets more complicated. You can get a contraption that attaches to a convertible car seat [and] turn it into a stroller -- I liked using that but my husband hated it because security makes you take it apart.

"They also make a special harness vest for older babies and kids that keeps them more secure than a lap belt, and you can do a car seat rental where you're going. I’ve never had good experience renting a car seat -- one was broken and they never were the greatest car seats, so check a rental seat thoroughly before using it." -- Lauren Levine, MD, pediatrician at ColumbiaDoctors and assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY

Get a Lightweight Seat for Travel

"We invested in the Cosco Scenera, a cheap but highly rated convertible car seat. It is lightweight and quick to buckle into cars and cabs, and certified for use in airplanes."

Try a Specialized Harness for the Plane

"I always invested in a separate airplane seat for my child, even when he was under 2. That way, we had more room to move around, and I felt safer having him strapped in if there was turbulence. Once my son outgrew an infant car seat, we got a CARES harness for him. It's a strap that easily folds up in a purse or tote and then buckles your child safely into an airplane seat. It's so much easier to carry around an airport than a car seat is! We'd either curb-side check our car seat or rent...

"I always invested in a separate airplane seat for my child, even when he was under 2. That way, we had more room to move around, and I felt safer having him strapped in if there was turbulence. Once my son outgrew an infant car seat, we got a CARES harness for him. It's a strap that easily folds up in a purse or tote and then buckles your child safely into an airplane seat. It's so much easier to carry around an airport than a car seat is! We'd either curb-side check our car seat or rent one at our destination, so we didn't have to lug it around."

A Car Seat Bag Makes Carrying Easier

"I put the car seat in a car seat bag to protect it, which also has a strap on it for easier carrying."

Consider Checking the Seat at the Gate

"If you're not bringing your car seat on the plane, I recommend checking it at the gate instead of at check-in. That way if your baggage gets lost, you aren't at your destination without a car seat."

Find Ways to Carry Less

"I always rent car seats instead of lugging them with me when traveling with my kids by plane -- I can't do two car seats, two kids under 4, and bags -- but I do recommend a car seat cover and one of those cool things with the wheels to cart it around."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.