Using a 5 point harness

One of the most basic tasks parents do in a day with child safety seats is buckling a 5 point harness.

Let’s review the steps on that:

Start with a child in a car seat.  For this demo, we’ll be using Alice (11months) in a Graco Safeseat.  (She is learning to walk and banged her face on the coffee table.  Sorry about the bruises!)

Alice says 'buckle me in mom!'

First, dig the crotch buckle out from between her legs and clip the buckle tongue into it. Make sure that the hip straps go over the child’s legs.

Insert each buckle tongue in separately. On some buckles, you have to fit them together first and insert them at the same time.

Next do up the chest clip.  Make sure that the straps are over her shoulders.

All clipped up!

On some seats you may find it easier to do the chest clip first and then the crotch buckle.  That’s fine too – whatever works better in your seat.  (Usually I do the chest clip first in seats I don’t loosen every time, especially those that have a continuous harness.)

Now it’s time to tighten.  This seat has a front adjust harness pull strap.  Just grab and pull!

Just give it a pull - some need have a racheting mechanism and go tug, tug, tug. This one is a straight pull.

Some infant seats are rear adjust and will have flaps at the back.  You must tighten each side of the harness separately.  Grab the strap and pull straight down.

Pull straight down on each side

Once you’ve given it one good pull, pull the slack up from the hips.

Pull the slack up from the hip straps.

And pull again to get rid of the extra slack.

How tight is tight enough?  You want it tight enough that you cannot get a horizontal pinch at the shoulder, like this.

Try to pinch the harness horizontally right at the collar bone. You shouldn't be able to get a fold.

And then we’re ready to go!

Ready to go Mom!

To get the baby out again, reverse the whole thing.

Press on this little button (on some seats you lift a lever instead) to loosen the harness.

Push the button!

For rear adjust seats, you will have to pull the end of the strap up and pry it loose.  For seats that are difficult to tighten/loosen, you do not have to do this every time you use the seat.  It’s just easier on some seats.

You can see the whole mechanism here

Next step is to undo the chest clip and push down on the buckle switch.  Many seats have this as a button to push in.

For this seat, push DOWN to open the crotch buckle. Many seat use a button that pushes IN.

Now let baby loose!

I'm free I'm free!

And that’s all there is to it!

About Atlantic Car Seat Safety

We are two Children's Restraint Systems Technicians who live in the Halifax area and volunteer through the IWK's Child Safety Link. We aim to answer questions and provide support as well as posting recalls, updates, reviews and how-tos.
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2 Responses to Using a 5 point harness

  1. Jennifer says:

    “How tight is tight enough?  You want it tight enough that you can get a horizontal pinch at the shoulder, like this.” I think you meant to say CANNOT get a horizontal pinch!!!

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