In the course of the past year, my daughter exceeded the height limit of the Chicco Keyfit 30 and graduated into a convertible seat – the NextFit.  In that same period of time, I strapped the NextFit to my back and carried it into Boston Logan Airport – all the way from Central Parking A, through the hamster tube, alongside the out of service moving sidewalk, to the check-in area.  You know what?  That trip was the first and last time I’d do that.  That thing is heavy.

If your child is at least 22 lbs and can sit up facing forward, there is a much simpler 1 pound device called the CARES harness that can really change the way you fly with a toddler.  It loops around the seat, under the tray table of the person behind you so as to not interfere, and has two vertical shoulder straps that the existing seat belt loops through.  Your child gets the normal protection of the seatbelt, plus some shoulder support and a chest buckle like a car seat provides.  The upside, in addition to being a lot easier to carry and very simple to install is that your kid also has some more freedom of movement compared to a car seat.

CARES Harness

It’s been fairly surprising to me, though, how many crew members have just never seen the thing.  Most had heard of it and at least have been trained that it is FAA approved, but on about 50% of flights someone wanders over to watch me install it because they just haven’t seen it before.  Most recently on a US Airways Express flight, I was installing it when the captain wandered over.  I looked up, said hello, and just said, “Don’t worry, it’s FAA approved, I can show you the tag.”  He said, “I believe you, I just want to see what the heck this thing is because my own daughter is getting too big to fly in her car seat.”  He watched me install it, then asked me a bunch of questions – what’s it called, where did you get it, how much, is it comfortable, etc.  The CARES Harness is available through Amazon (Prime!) for $60-70.

So if you haven’t heard of it already, the CARES harness might be an option when your child outgrows the infant seat.

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If you enjoyed the featured image, it belongs to Lon&Queta, used under Creative Commons license; and I suggest checking out their Flickr stream!

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