Home Air Travel Important distinctions between CARES and the Baby B’Air

Important distinctions between CARES and the Baby B’Air

by Shelly Rivoli

After seeing multiple parent remarks online recently where CARES was described as something used for infants, and another mention of the Baby B’Air being installed in a child’s seat, I thought it might be a good time to revisit these flight safety products for children. Let’s start with the little red vest pictured here, also known as the Baby B’Air.

 Baby B’Air

The Baby B’Air was created only for use with lap-held babies and toddlers, for the purpose of protecting them against turbulence—the leading cause of injuries during flights. It can be used from infancy through early toddlerhood, and comes in two sizes (most babies over 6 months can go ahead and use the larger size). The Baby B’Air is a vest that slips over your baby, and your airplane safety belt threads through a long loop affixed to the back of the vest. The Baby B’Air is approved by the FAA only for use during the cruise portion of your flight, but not during taxiing, take-off, or landing, during which times the FAA apparently feels your lap child is more safe riding completely unsecured on your lap (more details here). With unexpected turbulence each year launching water cups and lap-held babies alike, it is a good idea to use a Baby B’Air if you will be flying with a lap child, or if you anticipate having your seated infant riding on your lap during portions of your flight (as when breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or snuggling). And although it may sound hard to believe, a surprising number of babies fall off of snoozing parents’ laps each year, so on the off chance that you get to sleep during your flight with your baby (I’ll cross my fingers for you), the Baby B’Air will help protect against this sort of accident as well.


CARES is the acronym for “child aviation restraint system,” and it is the only aviation restraint that is FAA-approved for children to use during all phases of a flight. Unlike the Baby B’Air, CARES is intended only for use by children seated in their own airplane seats, and is for children at least 1 year old and weighing 22 lbs (its upper limit is 44 lbs. and 40” tall). CARES is the one safety product that effectively replaces the need for a forward-facing car seat for small children during air travel (more about it here). It is a harness made of adjustable straps that slips over the airplane seat back, and the airplane seatbelt threads through two bottom loops to complete the 4-point safety harness for your child. CARES has gained acceptance by numerous airlines around the world, which you can see listed here, and it is continuing to gain acceptance by others as awareness of the product and its benefits increases. To read my complete review of CARES, click here.

You can read more about each of these products in the Car Seat Alternatives section of TravelswithBaby.com. If you’ve used either product in your own travels, please feel free to leave your comments or tips for other readers below.

Safe journey,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning guide Travels with Baby
https://travelswithbaby.com/   twitter   facebook

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Anonymous October 7, 2009 - 7:01 pm

I am a first time mother. My son is now 8 months old and he is the joy of my life. I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to find time to spend with him. My husband and I both work at Narconon drug rehab and he goes to a nanny five days a week. We are at work more than we are with him. How do first time mothers get to where they feel like they are spending enough time with their baby? I feel like he is going to know the nanny better than his own mother. Is this how it is supposed to be?

Shelly Rivoli October 2, 2009 - 4:41 pm

I hear you on both points. Having had a 20-month-old climb me stem to stern while crying most of the way to Hawaii–because she was undernapped and overexcited, I hold that anything that may help sleeping on the long flights is key! It's plenty easy to rent car seats in Hawaii with a rental car or through one of the agencies in my online directory if you go with CARES, or there are other gadgets, like the economical Traveling Toddler, to help smooth travel with your car seat in Car Seat Accessories if you go that route instead. If you haven't already, check out http://www.travelswithbaby.com/gear/car_seat_bags.htm for suggestions.

Slamb October 2, 2009 - 1:33 am

We are curious about using CARES for our 16 month old, but worried that he is too small (and that he won't feel like napping). He will be 21 months by the time we're going to Hawaii, but it would be really nice not to have to lug a car seat around!

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