After seeing multiple parent remarks online recently where CARES was described as something used for infants (no!), and another mention of the Baby B’Air being installed in a child’s seat (no again!), 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.
What is the Baby B’Air Flight Vest?
The Baby B’Air (or Baby Bair) was created only for use with lap-held babies and toddlers on on airplanes. It’s primary purpose is protecting them against turbulence—the leading cause of injuries during flights.
The Baby B’Air flight safety vest 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 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).
To use the Baby B’Air, just slip the red vest portion over your baby. Your airplane safety belt threads through a long loop affixed to the back of the vest.
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.
What is the CARES harness?
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).
The CARES flight safety harness is the one safety product that effectively replaces the need for a forward-facing car seat on airplanes for small children.
It is a harness made of adjustable straps that slips over the airplane seat back, and the airplane seat belt 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. To find out more and see photos of it in use, be sure to read my complete review of CARES.
See more recommended tips below and airline-specific advice below.
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Airline-Specific Tips for travel with babies and toddlers:
Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning guide Travels with Baby