I read an article this morning on an American consumer affairs blog ‘Consumerist‘. A family have described their recent experience (not) using the CARES Harness on American Airlines with their 2.5 year old. (Local Australian families may also have experience with American Airlines due to their links with Qantas and the Oneworld alliance of airlines).
The article explains that the child was safely secured in their CARES restraint, when support crew decided it was a problem. The family emphasised its FAA approval and noted they had used it on their 11 previous flight legs. Unhelpful crew informed them “the pilot refuses to take off while the child is restrained”. With the only other option of leaving the aircraft, the family felt pressured to hold their child as a lap child during take off and landing.
This story reminds me of the early days with CARES back in 2007, where we were still trying to inform the airlines of the existence of CARES (yes, even though it was approved for use on airlines internationally). Airlines at the time explained to us that the product was being discussed and demonstrated to crew members in their training updates. Slowly, during travel with our kids (we had 3 under 2.5), we were questioned by crew less and less. Back then, we would carry the local CASA certification with us and in those early days, even provided a photocopy with all CARES sales on Little Gulliver. With our youngest now 7 we no longer use the device. However, we are proud of our efforts to inform the airlines of the CARES certifications and can boast that most Australian airlines now mention the CARES directly or mention it as an “FAA approved device” on their websites. We rarely (not in the last few years) hear of any airline push-back from our customers.
Here’s the link to the article which inspired today’s rant;
We have always found persistence pays with the big airlines, parents know best. I’ve always said a concerned parent is one of the best researchers on the planet – we know what is safe/approved for our children! And just for good measure -here’s the American Airlines policy for travelling with children (note the reference to FAA approved devices, which includes the CARES).
American Airlines are “continuing to review these allegations.”
I love how simple life is as a kid. When the latest craze takes hold it is all encompassing and exciting.
I started writing this post earlier in the year, when at our school the craze was all about Loom Bands and Bananas. I decided to complete the post now, because if you haven’t tried either of these activities yet, consider them – for kids travel, both are fun and easy to do.
Though the craze has waned, Loom Bands are still a great activity. You take some coloured elastic or silicone bands and 2 pencils and its fairly simple from there. I had to help my 5 year old with some of the looping, but our (then) 6 and 7 year old were fine to make them themselves. We’ve had them made in footy colours, favourite colours, crazy colours etc and have given them as gifts and even swapped them at school. (Looms are available from craft stores if you are wanting to try a trickier style bracelet). To make a basic ‘fishtale’ style, watch the video below (or google – there are heaps on You Tube).
Now, the banana thing is even better. I had vaguely read about arty folk drawing on bananas over the years but had never thought much of it – until the kids started asking me to draw on theirs. I do admire people who can draw and after I made a few attempts, the interest in mums banana creations has waned. That’s Ok, I’ll get over it.
Here’s some ideas in the Daily Mail to get you started, (although my creations are normally a ‘Princess’ or an inspirational message for the school banana, such as “don’t forget to bring your drink bottle home).” These use tooth picks, but again, there are less creative and easier ways (pen anyone)?
So, if your kids haven’t discovered either of these activities yet, try it out. Both can be lots of fun for your next long weekend and are fun activities for travel with kids too.
Its easy to look at a toddler walking harness and shrug and think “I would never use one”! Times have changed and so, thankfully, have walking harnesses. When we started our business, we found baby and toddler walking harnesses were one of the first products people were asking for. For that reason, we have grown to now have one of the widest variety of child walking harnesses you will find on the Australian market.
Why do travellers use a child walking harness?
Quite simply, a walking harness could be considered when;
parents are wary of taking their child into an unknown situation
parents are looking for a dual purpose item – something that can hold items while fitting the child comfortably
as a ‘piece of mind’ option for parents travelling alone with single or multiple kids
a parent is ill (or pregnant or with an elderly grandparent etc) and may not feel confident in bending to hold a child’s hand or being able to run after them if necessary
times when a parent doesn’t want to use a stroller, but are concerned about the environment the child will be walking in
We sold our first walking harness here at Little Gulliver back in 2008, giving us a clear understanding of why some families choose to use a toddler walking harness for travel. At the time, I had a lovely long phone conversation with a gorgeous British ex-pat mum. She was flying home to the UK (solo) with her newborn and toddler and had concerns about her 2 connecting flights. For a trip like this she felt a walking harness was a necessity – as she had to go through customs and security and felt their would be times she would have to take her eyes off the kids – piece of mind while away from home.
Where did walking harnesses originate?
I’ve always enjoyed reading how things originated. One of my favourites is the recent invention of “blue” for boys and “pink” for girls (did you know the boys colour used to be pink)? I also find the use of walking harnesses for children fascinating. I assumed they came about during this century, characteristic of a society where adults are becoming increasingly wary of kids and their environment (“don’t play in the dirt” etc). But no, surprisingly, according to this research, they have been around for centuries! Check out the article Children’s Walking Harnesses / Reins. It seems they were very popular in London in the 17th century when the city became busier, more dangerous and crowded with horses and carts and the like.
What style of walking harness is available?
Wrist to wrist
If you’re not sure if you want or need a harness, maybe try a wrist buddy. Small enough to sit in your pocket. It is a slightly
elastic harness which uses velcro to secure to the child’s wrist and has an end loop which can be held by the parent. Manufactured by Dreambaby, our friends at Travel With Tots did a great review here.
The Moose Noose is very popular. While its not subtle in its look, kids love the red colour and bendy cord. Depending on which side of the 80’s you were born, you could liken the cord to an old-style telephone cord. Its very secure and robust in its make. It attaches to parent and child via a velcro wrist band.
Walking and Sitting
The Dreambaby option is a basic chest harness with a loop style harness strap, which can also be fitted to a chair. It is small, so can be easily packed and has a more traditional style harness “look” to it.
The original Goldbug harness buddy is a classic and a lovable furry friend, popular the world over. It is worn like a backpack, with 2 chest clips for comfort and stability while wearing. There is a small pouch in the backpack (the size and shape of this varies depending on which style you choose). The “harness” is detachable, so the child can wear the harness buddy, with the harness strap stored in the pouch in case it is needed.
Another cute feature is that the buddy is facing the child’s back, so its kind of “piggy backing” the child, not looking behind them. Too cute!
Another recognisable friend (that you may not have realised is a child walking harness) is the Skip Hop mini backpack with reins. It has a single chest clip for the child’s comfort and stability and a detachable rein. It also has a write on name tag inside and a side pocket for a small storage such as a drink bottle. It has all the features of a normal backpack – just in a mini size. The detachable walking harness has sturdy metal hardware.
We are constantly updating our range. So check back in store again soon to see the latest in walking harnesses at Little Gulliver – Australia’s unique Kids Travel Store
Whenever and where-ever you need an “extension of holding hands”, Little Gulliver has a specialised range of child walking harnesses to choose from and we’re always happy to help.