I Never Leave My “Cares Harness” Behind When Flying with Tots

If you read my post titled “Our First Flight With the Kids” then you know that I left that flight having basically sworn off ever flying with them again. We parents make a lot of empty promises, don’t we?! (At some point I’ve already sworn off sugar, tv, and violent media of any kind—Disney included—for my kids. Those promises have all since died—a violent death I swore would never be allowed in my household.) 

Fast forward 3 months later from that first flight and we hopped on a plane for our first family trip to (if you know me well then you already guessed) Disney World. But I vowed this time I would correct all my mistakes from that first flight. My baby had her own chair, as did my toddler, and I started researching ways to keep them seated and safe during the flight. The obvious choice was car seats. Bring it onboard and then use at our destination. But I was trying to avoid carrying them through the airport (even though we were using a rental car in Orlando). Plus, if your familiar with Disney, then you know they offer their own transportation system for some guests, for which a car seat is unnecessary, so no sense carrying it only for the flight. 

Going along with the car seat theme though I wanted to find a way to keep them safely harnessed in their plane seat, protecting them from turbulence and my having to wrestle them to keep their seat belts on. My research led me to a device called a Cares harness. I used it on that first flight with both kids and used it on almost every flight after that. It’s such a unique and amazing travel device that I’m dedicating an entire post to it, and providing you with an easy link to purchase* here if you’re interested. 

What ages is this good for? 

  • About 1-5 years old, 22-44 pounds. 

How Does it Work? 

  • You strap it onto the back of the seat, pulling down the tray table of the person behind you in order to do so (once it’s set up you can put the table back). 
    • I’ve never, ever, had anyone seated behind me complain that I was moving their tray table. On the contrary, most times I’ve received curiosity about what I was doing, where they can purchase it, as well as commendations about the safety measures I was taking for my kids. 
  • Once it’s strapped onto the back of the seat, the airplane seat belt is looped through the harness lap belt across the child’s lap, and the top latch is secured across their chest. In this way it acts just like a car seat harness. 
  • It’s safety is unbarred, making it the only FAA approved harness that can be used for kids onboard an aircraft. Most airline personnel always knew what I was doing when they saw me using it, and thus never questioned me about it. 
  • I love that during taxi, take-off, landing, and moments of turbulence my kids aren’t shifting or falling forward, as can happen with small kids on flights. Instead, just like in their car seat, they’re strapped to their chair snug and safe. 
  • It’s not heavy to carry, unlike a car seat, and doesn’t require difficult installation or much maneuvering to do so. The entire installation process literally takes 1-2 minutes, tops. And the entire thing is basically a strap, think a duffel bag strap, inside of a small bag. I’m able to fit it inside my purse, which I’ve done before. 

What I Don’t Like: 

  • The harness isn’t a true 5 point harness, as with a car-seat belt, so it doesn’t have a crotch strap. This means that on leather bound airplane seats a small child could slide down a bit. To prevent this I suggest two things: 
    • The older and heavier the child the better so they can weigh themselves down. Obviously this also has to do with developmental level, so this should only be used with babies above 1 year of age who are able to sit properly. 
    • Roll a small blanket, pillow, bag, or towel on the seat the child is sitting on in front of them under their legs to prevent them from slipping a bit. Easy peasy. 

Most importantly it is worth noting that the Cares harness is only approved to be used during air travel and not during car travel. 

I have never traveled with a child younger than 4 without this device and never plan on doing so. It keeps them safe, seated, and it’s familiar to them as they already recognize harness systems from their car seats. It’s also stopped us from doing the ‘one-hand-on-chest-to-stop-them-falling’ maneuver during turbulence and landing. Now if only it could keep them entertained onboard too.


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