Right Fit Basic Tip #1
About the Harness
A properly-fitted 5-point harness provides your child with the best possible protection.
The 5-point harness is the name for the straps that go over both shoulders, both hips and buckles at the crotch. Your car seat’s label will tell you the weight and height range of the harness, so check regularly to make sure your child hasn’t outgrown it.
A seat belt is also a type of harness and is used on older kids with booster seats. Everyone in a moving vehicle needs to use some form of harness for protection in case of a crash.
Right Fit Basic Tip #2
As your child grows, the proper placement of the shoulder straps changes. For rear-facing car seats, the shoulder straps should come through the car seat’s slots at or just BELOW your child’s shoulders. For forward-facing seats, the shoulder straps should be at or just ABOVE the shoulders.
Right Fit Basic Tip #3
CORRECT HARNESS / BELT PLACEMENT
Car Seat: Keep your child in a 5-point harness for as long as possible, following the weight or height limits of your car seat.
A 5-point harness provides more protection than a seat belt used with a booster seat or a seat belt alone. Make sure you have a snug fit at hips and shoulders.
Booster Seat: Don’t be in a hurry to move into, or out of, a booster seat. Use the car’s lap and shoulder seat belt with a booster seat as shown in the video above. The shoulder strap fits across the chest and on the shoulder, not the face or neck. The lap belt lays on the tops of the legs or low on the hips, not across the soft stomach. Follow the seat belt guides on the booster seat. If your child puts the shoulder belt behind the back and under the arm it is a sure sign that the seat belt and booster seat aren’t being used properly. Don’t hesitate to return to the car seat with a harness if your child cannot use the booster seat like the manufacturer requires.
Seat Belt Alone: Take the Seat Belt Fit Test in every car your child uses. Use the seat belt alone when your child has outgrown the booster seat and passes the Seat Belt Fit Test. The seat belt placement is the same as in a booster seat: over the shoulder and low on the hips. Don’t hesitate to return to the booster seat if your child has a poor seat belt fit.
Right Fit Basic Tip #4
Take the Pinch Test
Use the Pinch Test to make sure the harness is snug enough.
After the harness is buckled and tightened, pinch the harness at the shoulder. A snug harness allows the fingers to slide off the webbing. If you can pinch loose webbing, the harness is not tight enough. Keep tightening until you pass the Pinch Test.
Right Fit Basic Tip #5
Winter Coat Tip
Bulky clothes, winter coats or blankets can prevent a secure fit in the car seat or booster seat, making you think it is snug when it is not. Here’s a solution: Warm up the car, remove the bulky jacket and tighten and adjust the harness on the child. Then lay a blanket or the jacket over the harnessed child. Some parents suggest putting the child’s arms into the jacket to keep it from falling off.