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Right Fit For Your Child’s Car Seat

About the Harness

  1. How it works. A properly-fitted 5-point harness gives the best possible protection for your child. A 5-point harness has straps that go over both shoulders and both hips and then buckles at the crotch.
  2. Check the label. It will tell you the weight and height range of the harness. Check regularly to make sure your child hasn’t outgrown it.
  3. The harness changes over time. Once your child outgrows the 5-point harness, the adult seat belt is used with the belt positioning booster seat. Learn about the right fit for babies, little kids and big kids.

Use the Correct Harness Slots

  1. Rear-facing seats. The shoulder straps should come through the car seat at or below your child’s shoulders.
  2. Forward-facing seats. The shoulder straps should be at or above your child’s shoulders.

Use the Correct Harness and Belt Placement

  1. Car seat. Use a 5-point harness for your child for as long as your child meets the weight or height limits of the car seat. A 5-point harness provides more protection than a seat belt used with a booster seat or a seat belt alone. Do the Pinch Test shown on this video to make sure you have a snug fit.
  2. Belt Positioning Booster seat: After your child has outgrown the car seat harness, move to a booster seat. Use the car’s lap and shoulder seat belt with a booster seat as shown in this video. Get more details about booster seats.
  3. Seat belt alone: Watch the Seat Belt Fit Test video and do the test in every car your child uses. Check out more tips about pre-teens in cars.

Get a Snug Fit

  1. Do the Pinch Test. Make sure your harness is snug enough by doing the Pinch Test. After you buckle and tighten the harness, pinch the harness at the shoulder. If the harness is snug, your fingers will slide off the webbing. If the harness is loose, you will be able to pinch the webbing between your fingers. A loose harness is a common mistake and is not safe. Check out the Pinch Test video.
  2. Winter coat in the car. Wearing bulky clothes or winter coats can prevent a snug fit of the harness. You might think your child is securely snug in the seat when in fact the harness is not tight because there is so much air in the jacket. Adjust the harness while your child’s coat is off, then put the coat back on and rebuckle. The harness may be tight, but it will fit properly.