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My daughter is young enough to fly for free. Here's why I buy a seat for her anyway.

Elianna Perez   

My daughter is young enough to fly for free. Here's why I buy a seat for her anyway.
  • Kids under the age of 2 can fly for free on an adult's lap.
  • I've taken my daughter as a lap child on flights before, but it's not super comfortable.

It was Christmas Day, and we were about to fly from Miami to Panama City. Before we even took off, my husband was ready to lose it, not because of something the airline did or an annoying passenger but because of the lack of space.

My daughter and I were in the window seat, my husband was in the middle, and a stranger was in the aisle. We were four people squeezed into a small row of seats.

He ended up trading seats with our 8-year-old nephew, who was also on the flight and took a window seat a few rows in front of us. The move offered me more space by sitting next to a kid as opposed to my adult-sized husband, and my husband was able to enjoy a stress-free flight.

I, unfortunately, did not get the same result. I dealt with my daughter climbing all over me and her cousin, feeding her endless snacks, cleaning up her messes, and dealing with a blowout diaper. The stranger in the aisle seat gave us a few looks but was kind enough not to say anything.

While it was uncomfortable for me since my daughter is bigger and more active than ever, I can handle the discomfort for a limited time. What bothered me was how uncomfortable it was for the innocent passenger in the aisle seat.

That's why I started buying my daughter her own seat every time we travel.

It's safer for kids to have their own seat

Another argument for children having their own seats is the safety of it. The FAA has stated that "The safest place for your child under the age of two on a US airplane is in an approved child restraint system (CRS) or device, not in your lap." The FAA is advising that not only should children have their own seats, but they should be strapped into car seats.

During bad turbulence, lap infants can become projectiles. This has become increasingly relevant since the Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max flight, where the emergency door broke off mid-flight.

In 2012, a lap infant died after being ejected from his mother's arms after a plane crash, while everyone else survived, according to Forbes. That said, the death of children in planes is rare, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2003. Statistically, you're more likely to be in a car accident driving to the airport than have serious turbulence or an emergency door falling off mid-flight.

I buy my toddler a seat now

As for our trip to Panama, I purchased my daughter a seat for our return flight as soon as we landed. Since then, we've flown three times, and each time she has her own seat. She continues to sit on my lap for most of the flight or will spread out on her seat and mine despite her tiny frame. But it's worth it for the extra space it allows me and to disturb fewer passengers on the plane.

Personally, I believe that ss long as the child is small and contained, they should be allowed to stay in their parents' arms where they will be the most calm and least likely to disturb others. But once a baby becomes a toddler and starts crawling and walking, parents should be required to buy seats for them, even if it increases the budget for their trips.

I recognize that if you have more than one child and can take up the entire row, you can do the cost-benefit analysis for yourself. But when a stranger is in the row with you and is forced to share with three other people, it's just mean.

Elianna Perez currently resides in Hollywood, Florida, with her husband and daughter. She can be reached on her Instagram @aroundtheworld_inbabydays.

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