How to attach 5 point harness on your child's car seat
If you are looking at potential car seats to buy and wondering how to attach 5 point harness, you've come to the right place. A 5 point harness is the webbing part of the car seat and it adjusts over your child to secure them in the seat. The 5 points in question are the areas where the webbing of the harness connects to the car seat. There are two points that come over the shoulder, two that circle the child's hips and a single point that buckles between the child's legs. A 5 point harness is common for modern car seats, so here is a guide on how to attach it correctly.
Adjusting the shoulder strapsMost car seats include a facility to adjust the height that the shoulder straps come from. Some seats will require you to rethread the straps if you want to move them up or down to different slots. With other seats, the head rest moves up and down, taking the shoulder straps with its. This is known as a no-rethread harness. While the latter option can simplify the process of adjusting the shoulder strap height, they can also add friction to the system that makes it harder to tighten the harness straps when attached. With a rear-facing car seat, rethreading is easily done as your child grows so you shouldn't need to uninstall the car seat. The no-rethread feature is more helpful with a forward-facing car seat as it means you won't need to uninstall the seat in order to move the straps as your child gets bigger. Adjusting the harness as required is a fundamental part of how to attach 5 point harness car seats safely. Adjusting the crotch buckle and hip straps The crotch buckle is the attachment located between your child's legs. It is sometimes adjustable and should be aligned in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Generally speaking, it needs to be as close as possible to the child. Some car seats allow you to adjust the width of the hip straps. This is similar to selecting the slot for the shoulder harness height - simply select the slot that is closest to the child's hips when seated. Move this out as your child grows to ensure maximum safety.
Untwisting the strapsThere must be no tangles or twists in the harness when you attach it, so you should check it before buckling. Harness straps can easily become twisted with repeated use of the car seat - the action of taking the child out of the seat can cause this as the straps move. If you don't smooth out the straps they can start to lose their flat shape and become wound like ropes. Twisted straps reduce the safety of a car seat, concentrating crash forces into a smaller area of your child's body in comparison to flat, straight straps. Always check the straps for twists before buckling your child in and remove twists whenever they appear.
How to attach 5 point harness buckleIt is often helpful to have the harness straps as loose as possible when you put your child into the seat. Be sure your child is sat back in their seat and is not leaning or slouching. When they are ready, put your baby's arms through the harness straps as if putting on a vest. When you do this correctly, the straps will be positioned over the child's shoulders. They will then go down the chest and abdomen and over the hips, where they attach to the buckle between the legs. The clips on the shoulder straps should fit together to form a single attachment that buckles into the crotch buckle. Once everything is buckled together, you need to pull the cord at the child's feet to tighten the harness. Pull it as tight as possible to ensure your child is safe and secure in their seat.
Tightening the harnessWhen you tighten the harness, you should pull it to the point where you can't pinch any excess strap webbing. This is essential to access the safety features of your car seat, so it must be done carefully every time your child is buckled in.
- Slide the clip down to the child's belly and keep it there whilst tightening the straps.
- Pull the shoulder straps and the hip straps outwards to remove any slack.
- There should be a tail strap that sticks out of the seat at your child's feet. You must pull this tail strap hard to remove all slack from the shoulder and hip straps, ensuring your child is snug inside the webbing.
- If there is not a tail like this on your car seat, consult the user manual to see how the harness can be tightened. It may be that there is a buckle on the rear of the seat or some knobs on the sides.
- The chest clip should be approximately level with the armpits when the straps are fully secure.
Final thoughtsIt is important to understand how to attach 5 point harness car seat straps correctly. They are the safest, most secure seatbelts for modern car seats, but only when they are buckled in the correct way. Make sure you take the time to familiarise yourself with the method to do this and concentrate on doing it correctly every time your child is in the car seat. This way, you can have the peace of mind of knowing that your child is safe in the car. For Your Little One is a family-run business committed to making life easier for parents everywhere. We supply a range of car seats for different ages to the UK mainland, and are happy to offer guidance on all our products. Feel free to consult our blog for advice and guidance or contact us if you have any questions.