Getting The Harness Right

When a child sits in their car seat, the only thing holding them in place is the seat's five-point harness, so it is vital that that harness is correctly fitted and adjusted

Correct Shoulder Strap Height

In a rear facing car seat the shoulder straps should be level with, or just below the child's shoulders. This is especially important when the seat is reclined. It is the harness's job to hold the child in the seat and if the shoulder straps are too high, the child will slide up the seat's back rest in a crash subjecting the head and body to unnecessarily high forces. Having the straps above the shoulders can be just as dangerous as the harness being too loose.


harness height level or below

Make Sure It's Tight

A car seat's harness will only be effective in a crash if it is tightly adjusted across the child's body. A loose harness allows excess movement in a crash which can cause injuries, it enables the child to wriggle their arms out of the straps, and it can cause them to be ejected from the seat altogether.

After doing up the buckle, pull the shoulder straps up through the buckle to remove the slack from the hips. Then hold the straps together with one hand and pull the adjuster strap at the bottom of the seat with the other to tighten the shoulder straps. Make sure there are no twists in the harness. Finally pull down the chest pads, these are designed to stop the straps from sliding off the shoulders.

Get into the habit of loosening the straps before taking your child out of the seat. That way you will have to adjust them again every time you put him back in, and you can make sure that they are always tight enough.

When the harness is tight enough you should not be able to get more than two fingers between the strap and the child's shoulder. Some people worry about hurting their baby by 'over-tightening' the harness, but this is virtually impossible. The harness needs to be snug.