Huzzah! It’s time for a barrage of product reviews here at HSWT. First up is what saved my bacon during our recent trip to New England– the CARES harness. For those of you who suggested this to me, thank you thank you thank you!
The CARES harness is the only FAA-approved toddler harness. While most folks prefer schlepping the car seat (and for good reason), I knew that it just wouldn’t be practical to haul the seat and the kid by myself. Then, there is the real fear factor– the Kicking of the Seatback ™. I had nightmares of my favorite little man kicking wildly in his car seat all the way from Chicago to Rhode Island.
So what is this magical device, you ask? You can get the official details here, but I can summarize it in simple terms. It’s basically an H-style harness that wraps around your plane seat and also connects through the normal lap restraint. What it is NOT is a 5-point harness, so there is nothing that supports the crotch and keeps your kidlet from sliding down and slipping out of the harness.
Pros: This thing is small, lightweight, and even comes with its own carry bag. Alexander loved that it came in a brightly colored bag, and we even tested it out at home. The whole contraption easily fit in my backpack, but it would even fit in a purse! There is a minimum weight requirement (check the website), but I foresee using this until he sizes out. Aside from the whole safety thing, Alexander LOVED it. He could sit next to me like a “big kid,” was able to use his tray table for play/coloring, and there was no way he’d be able to kick the seat in front of him.
Cons: As I mentioned earlier, the lack of crotch-belt caused our little guy a little frustration as he repeatedly slid down in the seat. You also have to attach the gizmo to your seat after boarding the plane, which involves wrapping it around the seat and tucking it under the seat tray behind you. Several flight attendants noticed me doing this and gave me the head nod. I would anticipate having to do this yourself– though they didn’t mention it, I would assume that since it’s a personal device that airline staff can’t actually affix it for you. (However, I was able to do this while wrangling a toddler already next to me in the row) It also retails for around $50, which is a little steep if it’s a one-time use.
The Verdict: Get this now before the makers of this product decide to hike up the price. HSWT was able to score one using a 20% discount at our local baby superstore. The size, the ease of use, and ultimately, our little guy’s happiness and comfort made it a no-brainer.