CARES Child Restraint System: Travel Gear Review -
Award-winning travel guidebooks
Home Florida - Walt Disney World Caribbean - Disney Cruise Line California - Disneyland Resort Anywhere and Everywhere! Travelers Store Message Boards PassPorter's Club Help!
  About Us  |  Customs Office   |   Register Your Book   |   Book Updates   |  Newsletter  |  Articles  |  Photos  |   Follow Us on
Globetrotting Planning Articles

Globetrotting Traveling Articles
52 Hours In the Cairo Airport
A Guided Tour
A Real National Treasure
A San Francisco Treat
A Trip Back In Time
A Trip Back In Time
Adventure to Washington, D.C.
Adventures by Disney
Adventures by Disney
Airline Security
Amish Country
An Insider's Guide
An Insider's Guide
Arlington National Cemetery
Bath, England
Buckingham Palace
Busch Garden Africa's SheiKra
CARES Child Restraint System
Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio
Celebration, Florida
Charleston, South Carolina
Costa Rica Adventures by Disney
Discovering "America's Finest City"
Disney's Vero Beach
Dover Castle
Driving Through The Night
Escape Into Alcatraz
Explore Alaska (From The Comfort of Your RV!)
Explore Alaska (From The Comfort of Your RV!)
Flying to Europe for a Disney Cruise
Flying to Walt Disney World from the West Coast
Flying Upper Class
Flying with Kids
Fort Sumter
Greeter Programs
Harry Potter's
Helsinki, Finland
Hershey, Pennsylvania
Hilton Head Island
Hong Kong Disneyland
How to Handle A "Bumpy" Flight
I Dream Of Hawaii
In a New York Minute
iPhone, I Travel
Kapalua, Maui
Keeping Kids Happy on Long Car Rides
Kent, England
King Tut and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs
Las Vegas
Las Vegas for Families
London, UK
Los Angeles
Madison County, New York
Molto Italia
More Than Bridges
My First NASCAR Experience
Nashville, Tennessee
National Aquarium
New Orleans
New York City
Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Not Your Average Bus Tour
On the Road to Walt Disney World
Oslo, Norway
Passport Update
Playing the Waiting Game
Port Canaveral, Florida
Prince Edward Island
Redondo Beach, California
Salem, Massachusetts
Small Is Beautiful
Small Is Beautiful
Southwest and JetBlue
St. Louis
Stockholm, Sweden
The Amtrak Auto Train
The Auto Train
The Emerald Isle
The Globe Theatre
The Grand Canyon
The Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains
The Other Side of the Falls
The Quest for the West
The World's Loveliest Castle
To Rent or Not To Rent
Tokyo DisneySea
Tokyo DisneySea
Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions
Traveling Carry-On to Walt Disney World
Traveling With Extended Family
Using Orlando's "Other" Airport
Vermont by Bicycle
Viva Italia!
Viva Italia! Part 1
Viva Italia! Part 2
Viva Las Vegas!
Vive la Difference
Washington D.C.
What To Do While Waiting for a Flight
When Does Your Walt Disney Vacation Really Begin?
When to Visit Walt Disney World
Windsor Castle
Winter Wonderland
Your First Trip to Universal Studios Orlando

Globetrotting Lodging Articles

Globetrotting Touring Articles

Globetrotting Dining Articles

Globetrotting Making Magic Articles

Globetrotting General Travel Articles

View all PassPorter articles
Article Tools
Print Article
Download PDF
View Photos
Visit Forum
Read Comments on This Article

CARES Child Restraint System: Travel Gear Review

by Jennifer Marx and Sara Varney, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Last modified 5/3/2007

Cool Tip: Click here to get a FREE PDF version of this article, fully formatted to print and put into your PassPorter Deluxe Binder!

Filed in Articles > International Travel > Traveling  

On August 14, 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the first ever alternative child restraint system called CARES, a harness-type device that attaches to the airplane seat's regular seatbelt. CARES is designed to be used as an alternative to a car seat or as a supplement to adult lap belts for children ages 2-4 who weigh between 22 and 44 pounds. This is the only alternative device approved for use during an entire flight including take-off and landing. (As compared to something like the Baby B'Air Vest that is only approved for use for lap-held children during flight, but NOT during take-off and landing.) (For more information on FAA child restraint regulations, see Unraveling the Confusion - FAA Child Restraint Rules, below.)

On recent trips, both Jennifer and I had the opportunity to test out the system on our sons. Ryan is three and weighs 38 pounds; Alexander is two and weighs in at 35 pounds.

My first impression of CARES was, "Is that it?" as my friend handed me a small blue bag. Weighing in at just one pound (significantly less than our Britax Roundabout car seat!), CARES at first glance hardly appears, well, reassuring. But upon closer examination, I found the straps to be well made and very sturdy. In fact, CARES is manufactured by Amsafe Aviation, the largest manufacturer of aviation seatbelts and pilot restraint systems in the world. CARES is made of the same material as your own seatbelt.

The CARES consists of one main loop that goes around the back of the seat (under the tray table in the back of the seat) and then is positioned just above your child's shoulders (the red strap in the illustration below). It has two, vertical black straps that cross over each shoulder and connect to the airplane's seatbelt (blue) at the bottom by threading the seat belt through loops in the ends of the black straps. Those two straps also buckle in the middle across the chest, creating a harness similar to that of a car seat.

Jennifer noted that her CARES system came with an installation DVD to explain the proper way to use it. She suggests you take the time to watch it. (If you borrow a CARES from a friend, be sure to ask for the DVD.) The four-minute-long DVD does a good job of showing the relatively simple installation, which is really helpful to know for your first flight with CARES.

The first segment of our flight was from Hartford to Charlotte and thanks to some soon-to-expire frequent flier miles, we had upgraded to first class for this leg of the trip. CARES was clearly not designed with first class seats in mind, as it was very difficult to maneuver the main loop over the top of the seat. However, even with this added degree of difficulty, my husband powered it down and had Ryan strapped in thoroughly in under three minutes. Ryan loved being able to sit in a seat "just like Daddy's!"

It was not long after take-off that we noticed the other issue with CARES. Unlike a car seat, which has straps that go between your child's legs to keep them upright in the seat, the CARES has no crotch strap. With nothing between his legs to keep him sitting upright in the seat, Ryan was soon sliding down and out from under the straps. While Ryan is an experienced traveler and not particularly squirmy on flights, we did have to "scooch" him up periodically to keep him comfortable. [Dave adds: The lack of a crotch strap is a safety concern. While it's no worse than using any adult lap or lap-and-shoulder belt with small children, at that size a crotch strap is still preferable.]

When we reached Charlotte, the CARES was again slightly difficult to maneuver up and off the wider first-class seat, but we still had it uninstalled in under a minute. Our connecting flight to Savannah was on a much smaller commuter plane. With those coach-sized seats, the CARES was truly easy to install.

Jennifer's experience with the CARES was on a Spirit Air flight to Orlando (and back). She had no problem installing the CARES on a coach-class seat, but she discovered the same tendency for Alexander to slide down in the seat. Alexander tends to be very squirmy, but he did surprisingly well at staying in his seat and not fighting against the restraint. On the return flight, Jennifer had some troubles with installation -- Alexander seemed less comfortable with the straps and had a greater tendency to slip down. She lowered the horizontal strap so it was right at his shoulder height, which made a big difference (this is the manufacturer-recommended position). Alexander really enjoyed being able to sit between Mom and Dad thanks to the CARES -- in his previous safety seat used on plane trips (a Sit 'n' Stroll) he was required to take the window seat for safety reasons. Also thanks to the CARES, Alexander had more leg room and Jennifer didn't need to constantly remind him not to kick the seat in front of him (or apologize to its occupants).

The CARES is a little pricey at $75, so if your child is at the upper end of the age or weight range or if you travel infrequently, the investment may not be worthwhile for your family. However in my opinion, the peace of mind that comes from knowing that Ryan is safer during in-flight turbulence or in the event of a catastrophe combined with the convenience and ease of use makes this a no-brainer for our family. Jennifer agrees and is pleased with the CARES. You can get more information on CARES at

Unraveling the Confusion - FAA Child Restraint Rules
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) policies regarding child safety generate many questions from our readers. The most confusing (and troublesome) policy regards the lap-carrying of children under two years of age. Parents have the option of lap-carrying their infant, rather than purchase a seat. While even the FAA does not recommend parents do this, the agency is unwilling to outlaw the practice. We, the FAA, National Transportation Safety Board, and every safety organization that has taken a position on the issue encourage parents to purchase a seat and to use an approved Child Restraint System. For children 20lbs. and under, this means a rear-facing car seat that is marked "FAA Approved in Accordance with 14CFR 21.305(d), Approved for Aircraft Use Only" -- not just any car seat will do. For children aged two and above,, parents are required to purchase a seat on the plane. While the FAA permits those children to be restrained by standard lap belts, a Child Restraint System provides superior protection for children up to 40/44lbs. For children weighing 20-40lbs., a front-facing, FAA-approved car seat is acceptable, and for children weighing 22-44lbs., a CARES belt system is approved. Over 40/44 lbs., the FAA recommends using the regular lap belt provided by the airlines.

For more information on FAA regulations, visit

About the Author:
Sara Varney is Mom to Ryan (age 3). Ryan is an experienced traveler who now insists on completing security check-in all by himself! Jennifer Marx is mother to Alexander (age 2) and step-mom to Allison (age 14). She's taken her kids on dozens of plane rides over the years. Little Alexander already has over 30 flights under his "belt!"

Related Links:

Traveling Carry-On to Walt Disney World - Avoid Those Baggage Fees last updated 3/2/2011
New York City - Something Old, Something New last updated 01/02/2009
On the Road to Walt Disney World - Doing "The Drive" last updated 01/20/2009
Airline Security - 10 Important Tips and Reminders last updated 1/21/2009
Sick at Sea - (But Not Sea Sick!) last updated 5/14/2009

Reader Comments:

View all comments in forum thread

So what do you think? Click here to share your comments, feedback, and experiences on this article and topic!

(Note: You must be a member of our PassPorter Message Board Community to leave comments. Join today for free!)

Updated 5/3/2007 - Article #280 

Read additional articles from

Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter, PassPorter News, published for more than 58,000 opt-in subscribers worldwide. As an added bonus for subscribing, you will receive a 20% discount coupon for the PassPorter Store -- no catch!

E-mail Address:

First Name:

E-mail Format:
-Text/Don't Know  



We respect your privacy and never sell or rent our subscriber list. Subscribing will not result in more spam! We guarantee it.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Copyright 1999-2014
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

Learn More With Our Award-Winning Guidebooks


RSS General PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel - Globetrotting: General Travel Planning
PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disn...
Planning a trip around the globe, or just away for the weekend? Ask questions and share experiences! Forum Sponsored by

Winnipeg, Canada
by Ashli
9 Dec 2014 at 2:51pm
Now that the draw for the Women's World Cup 2015 has happened, I know I'll be spending 7-10 days in Winnipeg next June. Anyone been there before and...
(click title above to view replies)

Does anyone take a vacation to somewhere just because flights are cheap?
by Huntermom
26 Nov 2014 at 8:40am
A client just told me she was able to get fares to INdia from Boston for $700./00 round trip. It makes me want to plan a ytrip even though I...
(click title above to view replies)

North West- any must see's or travel tips?
by B.M.
23 Nov 2014 at 1:40pm
This coming summer, we will be traveling to the North West. I've been planning this trip for quite some time.... and now the time has come to...
(click title above to view replies)

Total Visits: 3764

PassPorter ~ 1998-2014 ~ 16 Years of Making Dreams Come True!
Publishers of bestselling travel guidebooks and proud recipients of 13 national book awards
About PassPorter
About Us
Site Map
Privacy Policy
Images & Artwork
News & Updates
Message Boards
Concierge Desk
Books & E-Books
Customs Office
Register Books
Book Updates
Help & Info
Finding Answers to Questions
Help Desk
Using Your PassPorter Forum
Store Customer Service
E-Mail Us
Follow Us Front Page (Updated Daily!)
PassPorter Newsletter (weekly and free)
Latest Posts
YouTube Channel
Questions? Check our Site Map and visit our Help Desk to learn how to contact us online, by e-mail, and by phone.
Please feel free to link to this page so that other vacationers can find it.