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Is the CARES Harness Necessary or Not?

This is the only FAA-approved harness but, do you really need it? 


CARES Harness in action. The regular seat belt goes through the bottom of these straps.

CreditTrips + Giggles

One of the struggles parents fear the most while flying with children is the epic meltdown. You know, the one that will get your kid, and you, escorted off the plane by air marshalls and the police. (This story from two years ago continues to haunt us.)

If a child is under two, regulating a meltdown is no easy feat, but you are at least allowed to hold the child on your lap. However, if your child is over two and refusing to sit down, you are SOL. And the air marshalls might come for you.

Which is why traveling with a CARES Harness can be a good idea. Obviously, the FAA-approved and airline-recommended harness was not designed to be a kiddie strait-jacket but it does help keep little ones securely in their seats, thanks to shoulder straps. When the harness is on, it's very hard for kids to slip out of it, as compared to the seat's usual lap belt, which is often times too big for kids, allowing them to slip right out and jump up and down on the seat while yelling, "More 'lee pops!" (Oh wait, that's just our two-year-old.)

It's super easy to use, but comes with detailed instructions just in case you're having difficulty. In fact, the hardest part is asking the person behind you if they can lower their tray table so that you can slip the harness over the back of your seat.

The CARES Harness only weighs a pound and folds up into a 6" pouch. 

But like, do you need it? 

Since we are "worst case scenario" traveler we almost always bring the CARES Harness with us. But on a recent trip, our terrible two-year-old managed just fine with the regular seat belt. Which was a good thing because we didn't have the harness with us. 

Like all travel gear, it depends on what your child is like and what stage they are going through. If sitting down is hard for them to do, this might be necessary. Otherwise, you may do alright with bribing, er, rewarding them for sitting in their seat like a big kid.

If you're interested in the harness, but not completely sold on shelling out $74.95 to buy it, we suggest splitting the cost with a few other traveling families. That way you can pass the CARES around when someone needs it, rather than buying it for a one-trip use.



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