It’s Our 2 Yr Bloggiversary! Join Our “Help Save a Child” Giveaway!

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 11:36 am

We want to jump up and down and shout from the rooftops…
It’s been 2 YEARS since we launched Pediatric Safety!!

Back in 2009, our goal was to create a place where everyone who cares about children’s health and safety could get together to stay informed on the topics that have the potential to affect them and the children in their care. Since our launch, we’ve had the fortune to meet and work with some wonderful folks – a pediatrician, a nurse and child safety expert, a family psychologist, a water safety specialist, a dentist, an environmental safety lawyer, an EMS safety specialist and a special needs parenting expert – all of whom volunteered their time to help make this site a community where you can find answers and hopefully give answers to others when they need them.  At it’s heart, it’s a place where people can support each other – the village needed to raise a child.  If we’ve been able to accomplish even a little of that, then this has been 2 years well spent

So where does this “Giveaway” thing come in???   We want to celebrate…and we’re hoping you’ll join us AND maybe help save a child’s life all at the same time!   🙂

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, (NCMEC), is a private, nonprofit organization created over 25 years ago to serve as the nation’s resource on the issues of missing and sexually exploited children.. As of 1984, police could enter information about stolen cars, stolen guns, and even stolen horses into the FBI’s national crime computer – but not stolen children. That is no longer the case. Thanks to NCMEC, more missing children come home safely today and more is being done today to protect children than anytime in the nation’s history.  And in light of the recent tragedy in New York where a young boy was abducted and killed after getting lost on his way home from camp, we’d like to lend them a hand…

Introducing: Pediatric Safety’s “Help Save a Child and We ALL Win” Giveaway

Something for the kids…and a little something for you too!!

  • For each person who signs up to join the Pediatric Safety community, we will donate $1 to NCMEC
  • And for two first place winners – to thank you for helping us celebrate 2 years of making a difference, we’d like to give you each
    a $25 Amazon gift card.

Here’s How it Works:

For your MANDATORY ENTRY:

  • Register to join the Pediatric Safety Community by clicking here and select “I just joined” on the form below. . If you are already a member of Pediatric Safety, then select “I am already registered” on the form below Also, it’s not required but we’d love if you leave us a comment below.

For your BONUS ENTRIES:

  • Retweet one of the following:
    • “Amazon gift card 4 u & $1 for Nat’l Center for Miss & Exploited Children! Help celebrate our 2 yr Bloggiversary http://tinyurl.com/3m3f3m5”  (you may tweet this once daily = 1 entry)
    • “Help celebrate 2 yrs for @pediatricsafety! Join us & we’ll donate $1 to the Nat’l Ctr for Miss & Exploit Children http://tinyurl.com/3m3f3m5” (you may tweet this once daily = 1 entry)
  • Click on the “Share This” at the bottom of this post & submit this to your favorite social network  (= 1 entry)
  • Blog about this giveaway and link to this post http://tinyurl.com/3m3f3m5  (=2 entries)

Below you will find our CONTEST ENTRY FORM. After you have completed either your MANDATORY entry or one of the BONUS entries please fill this out.  For simplicity you can use this form for each bonus entry – simply skip the mandatory entry box and check the “bonus entry” box

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Contest Rules:

Giveaway is open to readers in the USA and Canada only. Giveaway starts Tuesday July 19, 2011 (our Bloggiversary) and ends at 5pm EST Friday July 29, 2011.  Please fill out a separate form for the mandatory entry and for each bonus entry so we can make sure each entry gets counted. (…that means if you completed a bonus that has 2 entries, please submit 2 forms). Please make sure each form has your name and a valid email address. Winner chosen using random.org. You will have 48 hours to email us if you win.  Good Luck to all entrants!

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**THE GIVEAWAY HAS NOW CLOSED**

Our 2 Winners are:

#17 Paul Shearer

#12 Christel Ide

Thank you to all participants!

Einstein Your Thinking and Keep Your Child Safe Around Water

Last updated on July 2nd, 2018 at 12:09 am

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  …Albert Einstein

Sometimes the usual methods just aren’t as effective as innovative ways of teaching.

Ballroom dance can teach students how to respect the opposite sex. Huh? Ballroom Dancing? Yes. Watch “Mad, Hot Ballroom” or “Take the Lead” to learn how schools in New York are using ballroom dance classes to help improve children’s self-esteem and to teach respect for the opposite sex.

One child drowns every minute. Drowning is the leading cause of death globally for children ages 1-4. Yet conventional wisdom says that we need to keep young children away from the water until they are old enough for swimming lessons. The problem? Toddlers are escape artists. It takes only 2 minutes to drown. True coordination for swimming rarely occurs until children are about 5. And we, rightfully so, make water fun for children from the time they are babies and then don’t teach them how to be safe in the water. We give them mixed messages and we wait too late. Water safety isn’t just swimming or avoidance.

Don’t fall into the trap of following conventional wisdom when it comes to water safety. Young children need to be taught how to relate safely to the water the same way they are taught to cross the street safely. Positively, repetitively, and age-appropriately. Start when they are infants – teach them to never go near water without an adult. Show them their limits in the water by gradually introducing them to the water and teaching them how to hold on and turn around, do monkey hands around the side of the pool, and how to push off the bottom of the pool to grab the side.

Contact your local YMCA about Parent and Me swim classes or use the book Jabari Makes A Splash to talk to young children about water safety. Start when they are very young.

Listen to Einstein.

Co-sleeping and the Older Child – A Family Controversy

Last updated on August 19th, 2015 at 11:09 pm

We’ve had an ongoing controversy in our family the past few years….all about “sleepovers”. In our house “sleepovers” have been defined not as kids in sleeping bags, junk food, and late night silliness, but as an occasional night in bed with either mom or dad – though usually with mom. Our son has always had challenges going to sleep and staying asleep – and really likes company….human company. So an occasional parental “sleepover” is a real treat for him.

So where is the controversy? Although our sleepovers are totally innocent and just give the opportunity for extra time together – including chats, silliness and cuddles – there’s frequently a negative view in the US about kids sleeping with their parents – also known as “co-sleeping”. At a minimum people generally have strong opinions on the subject. My husband frowned on this occasional sleeping arrangement, seeing it as undermining our son’s independence – especially given that he turned 9 this year. And a couple of psychologists I know said that co-sleeping, particularly with one parent, could affect his emotional development.

Why did we do “sleepovers”? My work over the past 5 years was very intense and involved significant overseas travel. So every few weeks I would be gone for a week or two – and when I got back I would be jet-lagged. My son missed me and I missed him – but I didn’t always have the energy or the patience to really be there for him when I got home. So sleepovers were a way for us to get more time together – either before or after a trip. And we had developed some fun rituals for the events – like staging a stuffed animal fight (think snowball fight – but with stuffed animals), drinking hot cocoa before bed, and him telling me original stories as I rubbed his back and head. The arrangement also meant I could just settle in for the night and get a good sleep uninterrupted by his frequent night-time visits. Plus don’t underestimate the power of the mommy guilt when he said he missed me and begged for a sleepover.

What are the potential issues? Most co-sleeping literature focuses on infants – and in this situation the biggest concern is safety; generally regarding suffocation from bedclothes or a parent or sibling rolling onto the baby. In fact, both the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warn against having infants sleep in adult beds. But co-sleeping advocates, such as Dr. William Sears, say these warnings go too far – that with proper consideration for safety, the benefits of the family bed outweigh any risks (click here for a good Parenthood.com article about co-sleeping risks and rewards – also see these articles for a perspective from Confessions of a Dr. Mom).

As children age, concern shifts to the development of their independence – will they be too clingy with parents or not be able to eventually transition to sleeping on their own? Psychologists also highlight potential effects on emotional and gender-role development from blurred child-parent boundaries and seeming to come between the mother and father when co-sleeping with just one parent. Finally, issues can be more about the parents – the desire for privacy or couple time – or opposing views on co-sleeping, which can create marital discord.

Different perspectives. Given what I’d been told about the potential negatives, I became worried that we’d done this so long. However, in researching the issue I’ve learned that other cultures see things differently. A friend in England with twin 7-year old girls has regular pint-sized bed-mates and was horrified to hear that I’d been counseled against a bonding opportunity with my son. And I spoke with a colleague from Asia who slept in the parental bed most of the time through age 12. In fact, co-sleeping, even at older ages, is quite common in other parts of the world. This was borne out by a 2006 study in Singapore where over 70% of the children participating slept with parents or another adult. While the co-sleeping children were younger than those who slept alone, the mean age of the co-sleepers was nine years.  Even here in the US views are shifting, though many proponents of co-sleeping aren’t comfortable admitting the practice – even to close friends and family. A lot of advice on the topic concludes with the recommendation to do what feels right for your family.

So what did we decide? We didn’t eliminate “sleepovers” entirely – but we have scaled them back considerably, using the occasion of our son’s ninth birthday as the trigger (”you’re getting too old for so many sleepovers”). The practice was becoming too much a norm or expectation for the little guy – and I realized that I was also doing it for my own needs. But I feel reassured from what I’ve read that it hasn’t created an issue for him. He’s extremely independent – able to handle away-camp and visits on his own to grandparents; he only wants hugs and cuddles from mom in private (“no hugs or kisses in front of my friends Mom!!”), and is exhibiting a healthy developing curiosity about girls and relationships.  And he’s much better now about sleeping on his own through the night.  Who knows, maybe our past co-sleeping helped him better deal with his sleep challenges.  Either way, I”m just glad we’re all getting a decent night’s sleep!

What are your family’s sleeping arrangements? Do you admit to co-sleeping or a family bed?

Our Miracle Baby: Aidan’s Story of Surviving CDH

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 11:39 am

When I was asked to write a post about my son and the life-threatening birth defect he was diagnosed with at 37 weeks…I jumped at the opportunity. My son is a survivor but many are not, and I have been doing everything I can to help spread the word and try to increase awareness. The birth defect is called congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). It’s definitely a mouthful but in layman’s terms, it means a hole in the diaphragm. I’ll get into more detail later, but even though the diaphragm is kind of a forgotten muscle (especially when the baby is still in the womb), suffice it to say that when there is a hole…the survival rate is only 50%.

The diaphragm’s main purpose when the baby is in the womb is to separate the abdominal organs from the chest organs. When there is a hole in the diaphragm, the abdominal organs can pass through that hole. At the very least, the extra organs in the chest cause the lungs to be underdeveloped (due to the extra organs taking up the space the lungs need to develop properly). However, when organs don’t develop in their proper location it can lead to all kinds of other issues such as heart defects, chromosomal abnormalities, premature labor, etc.

We found out after 37 weeks of what we thought was a perfect pregnancy that our son’s stomach had passed through a hole in his diaphragm and caused his heart to be pushed to the wrong side of his chest.

As I mentioned earlier, CDH has a mortality rate of 50%. It occurs in 1600 babies per year in the US and is just as common as spina bifida and cystic fibrosis. However, there is very little research on the cause and there is no known cure other than treating the symptoms with surgery and/or medicine. So basically we went from what we thought was a picture perfect pregnancy to being told our son had only a 50% chance of survival due to some birth defect we had never even heard of. We were devastated! I can honestly say that Monday, 5/24/2010 was the worst day of our lives. We felt lost, alone, blindsided, and had no idea where to turn.

If there was any good news from the events of 5/24, it was that we had (hopefully) enough time to make arrangements to prepare for Baby R’s arrival. We wanted to make sure that we were comfortable with all the doctors that would be taking care of our son as it could mean life or death. In fact, the first surgeon assigned to us could not find the time to meet with us for at least a couple weeks. A couple weeks, I didn’t think we had. Since my wife’s fluid levels were elevated, there was a high likelihood that she could go into labor early which meant at any moment.

At this point, I started researching alternative hospitals and doctors. After visiting two hospitals in Chicago, we settled on staying in Chicago and having our son delivered at one hospital and transferred to Children’s Memorial after being stabilized. We were extremely pleased to learn that the head of pediatric surgery at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago was extremely knowledgeable about CDH which calmed us down as much as possible That is to say…just a little bit.

Fast forward to June 17, we got to the hospital around 7:15 on 6/17/10 for the scheduled c-section. Things were going really well from the start. As always, Amy’s vitals were great and so were Baby R’s / Aidan’s. At around 10 am, Amy was brought to the OR to give her the spinal anesthesia, etc. I had to go to the adjoining recovery room until they were ready for me.

That was probably the longest 25 minutes of my life. I was in my scrubs, pacing back and forth just waiting for them to come get me. I had nowhere to go, was nervous for our son, and anxious for Amy.

I was finally brought into the OR to see Amy. There were 2-3 OB’s, 3 neonatologists, a couple anesthesiologists, and I think a couple other doctors there for support. The main OB (who happened to be the one who diagnosed the CDH in the first place) was great at giving us as much play by play as we wanted.

And then all of a sudden, we heard a little cry. I have never been so happy to hear a baby cry in my life. Many CDH babies don’t have enough lung capacity to even cry at all. That fact that Aidan gave out a little cry was a great sign (we hoped), and Amy and I both let out a collective sigh of relief.

I could see Aidan struggling and catch a glimpse of a finger or toe periodically. The doctors said he looked great, great color, and the fact that he was fighting the doctors was another good sign. He wanted to breathe on his own. Finally they called me over to cut the cord, and I was able to get my first good look at him. He looked amazing…my face, Amy’s nose and hopefully someone else’s height…

I went into overdrive at this point to ensure Amy got a chance to see Aidan. I snapped a quick picture on my phone so Amy could at least see what he looked like. Then suddenly it was time to wheel him away to the NICU.

In route to Amy’s room, we stopped by the NICU, and we were able to spend 15-20 minutes with Aidan. He looked great but was fighting with the doctors big time. We found out that the transport service was already on the way.

Aidan was doing so well after being transported to Children’s Memorial, that the surgery to fix his hernia (the hole in his diaphragm) was scheduled for 6/21 (when he was 4 days old). Typically surgeons do not rush to fix the hernia through surgery. Current research has shown that it’s actually more beneficial in the long-run to stabilize the baby and allow him/her to get as strong as possible before doing surgery. This can mean days or months before some CDH babies are ready for surgery.

After 2.5 hours of surgery, the surgeon came out to the waiting room to talk to us. Her first words were, “he’s a miracle baby—with a great name”. She told us that the surgery went really well but that he was actually in much worse shape (before surgery) than everyone thought. Since he had been so stable since birth, everyone thought that his lungs would be in great shape and that only his stomach and some of his intestines would be in his chest (at the very worst).

The reality was that everything was in his chest…his stomach, small & large intestines, spleens (yes he has two), etc. Basically everything but his liver was in his chest. All those organs in his chest caused his left lung to be moderately underdeveloped and his right one to be slightly underdeveloped.

In addition, he had no diaphragm at all. This was all a shock to the surgeon since Aidan was basically stable from the minute he was born. His breathing, oxygen levels, blood pressure, etc. were so strong and stable that is was a bit of a surprise that he was actually in such bad shape technically. But his right lung was relatively well developed which obviously was able to compensate for the weak left one.

The doctor had to move his organs to their proper places and then make a new diaphragm using Gortex. It is very common for surgeons to patch the existing diaphragm but Aidan didn’t have enough muscle tissue to do that. The surgeon also had to create a new hernia or hole in his abdomen. This is sometimes done when there isn’t enough room for all the organs once they are moved back to their proper locations. Basically Aidan’s abdomen is not used to having so many organs in it, so they created a little extra room for his stomach to grow for the time being. He will need to have another surgery on 7/21/11 to close this hernia (and put his stomach back in its proper location), but it will be “minor” surgery compared to what Aidan has already been through.

Once Aidan was moved back to the NICU, we got to see the incision and see how he was doing. The incision was about 4-5 inches across his stomach area. But the neonatologist made a point to tell us that she rarely sees a baby come out of such major surgery and need so little oxygen. He was completely sedated (and was using a ventilator to help him breathe 100%) but his oxygen level was almost already back to normal. I got another update from Aidan’s nurse that evening. He was barely awake; however, he was already starting to breathe on his own in addition to the ventilator.

We had our ups and down post surgery. Aidan was extubated, weaned off all medications, etc. only be re-intubated less than 24 hours later and put back on all medicines (with methadone added to the mix). But in the end, Aidan came home after only 29 days in the NICU. We were pretty naïve to what other CDH families went through at the time, but I had a feeling that 29 days was a short time to be in the NICU. I now know that with such a severe defect, we were extremely lucky that Aidan was able to graduate from the NICU after such a short period of time (or even survive past the first day for that matter). Aidan was able to come home with basically no signs of CDH other than a large scar on his abdomen.

Aidan had no reflux (a very common side effect of CDH that can last for years) and no other chromosomal abnormalities or heart defects. He was basically a normal 1 month old. However, Aidan would still need to have a hearing test every 6 months for the next 5 years. His surgeon has seen some high frequency hearing loss in CDH babies up to the age of 5.

My wife and I went through a lot to educate ourselves on this defect that we had never heard of in order to prepare for our first born. But this entire ordeal has definitely made us stronger, and we appreciate life, love and our son more as a result.

In hindsight, I feel ignorance was actually bliss to a point. I am almost glad I didn’t know as much about CDH (before Aidan was born) as I do now. If I had been as informed, and realized that of the 1600 cases per year in the US only 50% of the children survive once diagnosed with a hole in their diaphragm and that children without a diaphragm at all are even less likely to survive…if I had realized that there was no known cause or cure and that very little research has been done to try to find the cause…if I had known that often CDH babies have to endure multiple surgeries throughout their lives (which sometimes are cut prematurely short), I think I might have actually been even more scared than I was. For a child with such a severe defect (no diaphragm at all), Aidan blew away the odds which was more than anyone could have every anticipated.

In the end, Aidan was 1 of 800 babies to survive in 2010 after being diagnosed with CDH – a defect virtually no one has ever heard of.

7 Prevention Steps to Reduce Child Deaths from Hot Cars

Last updated on July 10th, 2017 at 02:18 pm

Thirty-eight children, on average, die each year from heat stroke after being left in or becoming trapped in a hot car, according to KidsandCars.org, a website dedicated to improving child safety around and in cars. Unfortunately, in 2010 the number of children who died was 49 and there have already been numerous deaths this year, only part of the way through the summer season. There are several steps parents can take to lower the risk of these preventable deaths and keep their children safe.

NEVER leave a child of any age alone in a car for any period of time. Too often a parent will think that they will “only be gone for a minute”. That short “minute” almost always turns into longer than the parent realizes and it only takes a few minutes for the temperature inside a car to dramatically increase by 20 or more degrees.

According to KidsandCars.org,

“A child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult’s. Even with the windows partially down, the temperature inside a parked car can reach 125 degrees in just minutes. Leaving the windows opened slightly does not significantly slow the heating process or decrease the maximum temperature attained.”

Kids have a greater risk of heat stroke than adults partly because their skin surface area is greater in proportion to their body mass therefore they absorb more heat. Children also do not sweat as much as adults and start sweating at higher temperatures, which means they are not able to cool their bodies as quickly or as well as adults.

  • Develop the habit of always looking in the backseat when you get out of your car, before locking it.
  • Leave yourself a reminder. With the majority of children riding in the backseat, and especially with babies and toddlers riding in rear-facing car seats, it is important to have a reminder that the child is in the car with you. In over 50% of these deaths, a child was unintentionally left in the car. While some parents may believe they could never forget their child in a car, keep in mind, no one’s memory is perfect and it only takes a short lapse in memory, either from sleep deprivation, distraction, a change in your normal routine, or for any other reason, to accidentally forget a quiet or sleeping child is in the car. It is recommended to leave your purse, briefcase, cell phone, gym bag, or ID near the child’s car seat in the backseat so you will be reminded to look back there when you exit the car. Another idea is to keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat. When you put the child in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat or floorboard where you will notice it.
  • Consider investing in a child reminder or alert system. These devices work in a similar fashion as the sounds your car makes when you have left the key in the ignition or a seat belt reminder and other bells and whistles that alert you to a potential problem. Some systems that are on the market include:
  • If your child attends a daycare or has a babysitter, ask the caregiver to call you if the child does not arrive when expected. Sadly, many children have been accidentally left in cars simply because the parent forgot to drop off the child at daycare and instead went straight to work and the daycare or babysitter assumed the child just wasn’t coming that day and the parent must have forgot to tell them.
  • If your child will be transported by anyone other than you, ask the caregiver to use these tips and call and check on your child periodically, especially if the child is not in that person’s car very often. Grandparents, other relatives, and babysitters who do not transport a child every day are at a higher risk of accidentally forgetting a child is in the car with them.
  • Whenever possible, use drive-thru services so you do not have to get out of the car while running errands. Pay for fuel at the pump so you don’t have to leave the car.
  • Keep your vehicle locked at all times when no one is in it and keep keys and remote key fobs out of the reach of children. Teach kids never to play in a car, never to climb into a car trunk, and to never get in a car alone.

If you see a child who has been left in a car, take action immediately to help them. Call 911 if the child seems hot or is having any heat-related symptoms.

For more information, please visit KidsandCars.org.

Kids Flying Alone: Make it Safe, Hassle-free and Fun

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 11:40 am

My son achieved a big milestone in 2011 – his first solo flight – at the tender age of eight! Not that he flew a plane by himself, but he joined the ranks of what airlines call “unaccompanied minors”; a kid at least 5-years old flying without an accompanying adult. Considering we don’t even let him ride his bike to the other end of the neighborhood unaccompanied, this was a pretty big deal.

Sending your children on a flight on their own can feel risky, but the airlines all have secure procedures for handling solo minors, and the benefits for far-flung extended or divorced families can be significant. While airlines levy charges for minding your kids, it’s easier and generally cheaper than flying with them. But despite the benefits, the process isn’t entirely straightforward. I didn’t have much of a clue what to expect the first time we took advantage of this service, and having just recently done it a second time – on a different airline – I’ve realized that parents need to be well informed before preparing to send their kids into the great blue yonder.

Overview of the Basics

There are no federal government regulations for travel by unaccompanied minors (UM), so airline policies vary on several dimensions (e.g. booking process, age requirements, fees, eligible schedules, etc). Unaccompanied minor service gets your children safely boarded and deplaned, alerts gate staff and flight attendants to their status, and provides oversight during connections. It does NOT include constant monitoring throughout the flights. For a good summary of airline policies and more helpful advice, see this US Department of Transportation brochure.

Generally carriers allow children to fly alone on direct and non-stop flights at the age of five; however, many will only allow journeys on connecting flights for kids at least age 8. Several airlines require UM procedures/fees through age 11, though some require this through age 14. Most airlines make the process optional for older kids and teens, though I have to say I don’t think I would feel comfortable letting my son travel alone at age 12 or 13 without the UM procedures. Some airlines allow travel on international flights, but others do not. Fees for unaccompanied travel are typically $50-$150 EACH way – so it pays to shop around. Thankfully, airlines only charge the one fee even if you have multiple minors flying.

Despite all the procedures, being eligible to fly alone is different than being ready to do so. How do you determine whether this is a good idea for your children? In our case, our son, Elliott, had flown with us many times and had become a pro at the process. He knew about seat belt lights, staying in his seat for extended periods during take-off and landing, and that electronics can only be used once up in the air. What clinched our decision is that on a family trip earlier in the year we couldn’t get seats all together. A passenger offered to move for us, but Elliott was adamant he wanted to sit by himself. He ended up having a merry time – as did his adult seatmates who told me afterwards that he really kept them entertained. He even got them playing a board game with him!

Booking Flights

Unaccompanied minor flights must be booked directly with the relevant airline. Travel sites such as Expedia and Orbitz won’t accept these reservations however it can help to check them first to determine who has the best routes and fares. Once you’ve chosen a flight/airline, MAKE SURE to visit that airline’s website and review their rules for unaccompanied minors – your choices may not fit their requirements. For example, many carriers prohibit UM kids from traveling on or connecting to the last flight of the day. Problems can arise if a child is stranded overnight as most hotels will not accept minors age 17 or younger to register.

You can often book the flights on the airline’s site – some require that you do – but you will then need to call and speak to an agent to finalize the paperwork and extra fees (some airlines allow you to pay the UM fee when booking, others will only take payment at check in….go figure?!). If you are booking with an agent via the phone, have your flight choices and prices at hand – they may not offer the cheapest or connecting flights even when allowed (and they may not be familiar with the airline’s unaccompanied minor policies).

This process requires a lot of information and documentation – both at booking and on the actual day of flight. Be sure to gather all the requirements BEFORE making the reservations – and ensure the designated adults have copies of the information and documents with them at departure and arrival.

Information Requirements:

  • Full name, address and home/daytime contact numbers for adults responsible for BOTH drop off and pick-up
  • Be sure the designated adult’s name is EXACTLY as listed on their government-issued photo ID – the address on the ID should also match (our son’s grandfather was picking him up at arrival so we had him send us a scanned picture of his license to be sure we had the correct details)
  • Proof of age – several airlines want to ensure your children have reached the age requirements for the journey, so you should plan to bring copies of their birth certificates – and include copies in their baggage for the return flight

Departure and Arrival

Be sure to arrive at the airport with your children in plenty of time for the extended check-in procedures for unaccompanied minors (about 90 minutes prior to departure). You will have to complete and sign paperwork regarding your kids’ travel and the person designated to meet them at arrival. You will be given an official envelope containing this documentation, all boarding passes and baggage claim tags – which you will hand over to the airline representative at the departure gate. A flight attendant will keep this envelope safe during the flight.

Your kids will be fitted with wristbands or other type of badges indicating they are UMs and the airline they are flying. You will receive a gate pass so you can escort them to the flight. Make sure you have your ID with you and be prepared to go through airport security just as if you were traveling – no banned items in your pockets or purse…and make sure you wear no-hassle shoes. I’m speaking from experience here! Once past security you might want to buy your kids something to eat and take care of bathroom breaks.

Alert airline gate staff that you have minors traveling alone – they should be expecting them. Staff will take the travel envelope and accompany your children and any other minors onto the flight. If you’re like me, be careful to limit excessive motherly PDA when saying goodbye!  Then settle down for a significant wait. Airlines require you to stay at the gate until the plane has taxied away – or even taken off – which can take considerable time. Keep this in mind when traveling to the airport. Anyone with you will need to wait in the terminal since only one adult will be allowed through to the gate.  Like I said, the process isn’t exactly straightforward.

At the arrival airport, again only ONE person will be given a gate pass to meet the incoming flight. This person must be the adult designated on your children’s travel form – no last minute changes are allowed. And be sure the person meeting your kids arrives at the airport well ahead of the scheduled arrival time. There are no electronic terminals for gate passes so they’ll have to wait in line to see an agent. I was almost late meeting my son’s plane last time as it landed 20 minutes earlier than scheduled.  But despite the challenges, some advance planning and research will ensure a big adventure for your kids and low stress for you.

Flying on My Own – A Kid’s-eye View

 

Hi. My name is Elliott and I’m 9 years old. I have flown by myself twice. Although I’ve been on planes many times with my parents, it’s cool when I fly alone. I feel so independent, with no one to tell me what to do. I played with toys and read on my first flight, but I just slept the second time because I had to get up so early that morning.

 

You get a wristband on your arm to show you’re unaccompanied (I kept mine on for 2 months after my trip!). Then you get on the plane first and the flight attendant tells you to push the HELP button if you need anything, and to fasten your seat belt and stay seated while the seat belt sign is on. People always talk to you – they ask your name, how old you are, and if you’ve ever done this before. Some flights give the kids traveling alone a special treat – but not all.

 

You’ll really love flying on your own. You’ll miss your parents a little – I wonder what mine are doing while I’m on the plane…whether they’re having fun or bored – but you’ll get over it. And some flights take a long time, so it’s hard to sit still. Take lots of activities with you – I recommend small board games or portable video games, a notebook/pencil to draw or write with, and lots of Pokémon cards! And try to get a window seat – it’s very entertaining to look out. If you’re going somewhere warm you can count how many yards have pools!

 

There’s not much to worry about – but I got scared once when I read the safety manual and thought about us landing in an ocean and being surrounded by great white sharks. But then I just went back to what I was doing before and forgot about it.  The End.