With the Holiday travel season quickly approaching, I’ve gotten a ton of emails from readers asking for travel tips for flying with young children. Many have asked what I would recommend after your child graduates from being a lap child and into having their own grownup seat while traveling by plane. My recommendation, of course, would be the CARES Child Aviation Restraint System that secures your child into the airline seat while flying without having to carry their bulky car seat onto the plane.
So, how does the CARES toddler harness work? Instead of one single lap belt on a standard airline seat, the CARES harness creates a 4 point restraint harness, similar to the restraints used in car seats, that secures your child for the duration of the flight. To use, you just attach the looped strap to the seat back and adjust so that the harness is a bit above shoulder height, then you thread the airplane seatbelt through both sides of the harness and buckle securely before snapping the breastbone clasp together.
The CARES restraint feels really secure and sturdy, which it should since it’s made of the same industrial-strength webbing as a typical safety belt. The CARES safety harness is engineered and manufactured by AmSafe Aviation, a leading manufacturer of airline seatbelts whose motto is “innovation in motion”. Innovation, indeed.
Instead of a bulky and heavy car seat or booster chair, the CARES safety harness can be easily carried in a carryon or large purse, comes in its own lightweight carrying bag, and weighs just one pound. One pound that will save you having to fight to get a huge car seat through security only to drag it along with you and your little one around the airport. And then once on the plane, the lightweight and flexible CARES safety belt is much easier to maneuver in tight spaces and get connected to and removed from an airline seat in a hurry. The CARES is simple to use, easy to install and remove within seconds and is certified to be as safe as an automobile restraint system for air travel. For those of you that will need your child’s car seat once you land, you can simply check the seat as luggage when you arrive and have the airline worry about getting it across the airport!
For families that fly without car seats and simply use the lap belt provided, the CARES can offer a peace of mind that lap belts cannot, especially for young toddlers or children who can never seem to get their lap belts tight enough to secure them. As an added bonus, I have found that active toddlers are much easier to contain when they are strapped in securely using their CARES harness and are unable to twist out of their seats. Our daughter doesn’t mind the CARES safety harness at all, which may be partially because she has never tasted the full freedom of movement that a single lap belt would offer. But I think the other portion of it is that she is very used to the idea that when we sit in a seat and travel we always have a harness securing us in for safety, and at this point she doesn’t question it.
The Child Aviation Restraint System is the only harness type child aviation safety restraint ever certified for airplane travel by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and states this certification very visibly on the CARES harness in case there are flight attendants who are unfamiliar with CARES. In fact, the FAA encourages parents to secure their children in restraints appropriate for their weight and size. In this case, the CARES restraint system is recommended for children over 1 year old and weighing 22-44 pounds.
The Federal Aviation Administration strongly urges you to secure your child in an appropriate restraint based on weight and size. Turbulence can happen with little or no warning. And when it does, the safest place for your child is in a Certified Restraint System.
~The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Random Raves: Are you wondering what you can use your CARES for when you’re not traveling? The CARES restraint system is not certified for use in motor vehicles, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it on other, non-moving, seatbelted objects (i.e. high chairs, seats, and more). We attached ours to our daughter’s very much outgrown infant bouncy seat* in order to keep her from wiggling out of the provided lap belt and toppling over backwards. I only had to witness her do this once before I demanded a better solution, and that solution came in a very unlikely place. Instead of retiring her old seat and fighting with an active toddler while trying to shower and get ready for the day, now we strap her into the bouncy seat with the CARES harness securing her and she knows that it is quiet time. Where we used to get squirming and squealing, now we have a relaxed toddler who sings us songs while we get ready. Seriously, is there any better way to start your day?
* The “very much outgrown bouncy seat” refers much more to age than size and weight, and we do not recommend parents put children in items that are not size and weight appropriate for their little ones.
A big thank you to CARES for saving our sanity when we travel and, as an added bonus, for offering a better way to start our mornings. No type of monetary compensation was received in exchange for this Rave Review.