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My daughter, age 3, can now reach the harness release of her car seat, and has lately be defiant. And I worry about her loosening the harness while I drive. She complains she's "too tight", which to me means it's "just right".

So I'm looking to buy/build some kind of "shield", which:

  • Prevents the child seat occupant from touching the harness release.
  • Allows a parent to reach under the shield to release the harness.

Some things I'm thinking of is, this shield:

  • Would be sat on and hang over the front of the seat.
  • Could not be removed unless the harness was unbuckled.

Some concerns I have though, this shield:

  • Can't interfere with the child restraint's safety features
  • Can't introduce additional risk to the child. For example, a hard device which could break and lacerate the leg.

So some questions for you guys:

  1. Is there a device on the market like this? That accomplished the same goals.
  2. If there isn't a device already; what materials could I use? I originally considered plastic, but worried about the additional risk from breaking. Another idea is very thick leather, to prevent the child gathering it up, to get around the shield.

I've highlighted the harness release, imaged on a similar seat model.

Child seat with harness release highlighted

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    Would you accept an answer suggesting other things you can do [behavioral, basically, not actually modifying the seat] based on (recent) past experience? Also, can you post the specific age of your child? – Joe Dec 11 '14 at 20:29
  • Behavior advice is always welcome, but my question is for the device. – Byran Zaugg Dec 11 '14 at 21:38
  • @Joe, I've made a related question on behavior. parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/17949/… – Byran Zaugg Dec 11 '14 at 21:50
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    One suggestion: I would modify the title to "from loosening harness" rather than "touching harness release"; at least for me, the buckle is the 'release'. Your picture makes it clear, but the title might cause confusion. – Joe Dec 11 '14 at 22:21
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I don't believe there are any existing products for that specific strap. However, I do have a DIY solution that can be just as easy, depending on your car seat model. This solution would work for my son's car seat and his booster seat both, but I can't tell from the picture you posted if it would work for your model.

If you search for "strap slides" or "strap sliders" you should be able to find products such as these: Rounded metal slides

Nickel metal strap silder

Metal slides with crossbar enter image description here

They make them in a variety of sizes, so take a measurement of the width of the tightening strap and get one that's just that width. I think they're usually about 1 inch wide, but I'm not sure.

I would opt for the crossbar models. They end of the car seat tightening strap is usually fairly think, so the adjustable crossbar allows you to more easily feed the end through the slider.

You can also find plastic models with grooved crossbars that increase the tension, but many of them don't appear to be wide enough to fit the end of the strap. However, if your car seat model allows you to complete unfeed the tightening strap, the other end may not be as think and make these other slides the best bet:
Triangle Slides Plastic Slides

The reason I say that is because to make these sliders effective, they need to provide sufficient tension. If they're too loose (because they needed to be to feed the thick strap end through them), then they won't stay in place and prevent your child from tampering with them.

If you must use one of the metal type slides, you may be able to increase the tension after adding the strap by wrapping some other material around the crossbar. My suggestion for this would be a strip of cut fabric that your can "roll" around the bar after a few manual wraps. Then, I would use some fabric glue to seal it in place. Note: This will make later removal of the tension slider difficult.

Once on, you just slide these things up towards the button/toggle that releases tension, and it'll help keep the straps from sliding even if the toggle is pressed. However, if your child is also putting a lot of pressure on the strap (such as leaning forward in earnest), then they may very well overpower the friction of the sliders.

I would add that most of the products do not come in solo packs, so you may need to buy them in packs of 10+. Or, you could cannibalize an unused adjustable strap (such as one for a camera strap, or Guitar Hero/Rock Band guitar strap).

An alternative method is using something that can attach to the strap and prevents the harness release toggle from being pushed/pulled by fitting underneath it. On my son's seats, if I were to attach a small alligator clip to the strap as close to the release mechanism as possible, then I'd be physically unable to push down the release toggle until the clip were removed.

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    The only concern I'd have is that this sounds like you would have a hard time adjusting the harness length as needed (which is needed almost every time you sit down, given clothing differences). But maybe my imagination is just failing me? – Joe Dec 12 '14 at 5:23
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    You'd have to push the slider up every time the child is buckled in after the straps are tightened, and pull the slider down every time before you loosen the straps. But, if the sliders fit correctly, it should be a painless process for the adult. It should be at least as easy as adjusting the strap length in a highchair/grocery cart/stroller. But, instead of adjusting the length of a loop of strap, you're just adjusting a point of tension. – user11394 Dec 12 '14 at 5:40
  • Okay, that makes sense. – Joe Dec 12 '14 at 5:43
  • Okay, so I tried this and it's actually quite dangerous. The slide is able to enter the harness release and prevent it from closing. – Byran Zaugg Feb 23 '15 at 23:51
  • Isn't that the goal? Or do you mean it gets wedged/stuck so that you can't release it even when not in use? – user11394 Feb 24 '15 at 0:59

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