I am hoping other parents might have some advice. My 3 year old is constantly loosening his straps in his car seat. He is able to reach down and press the release button to loosen the straps and then sits with his arms out of the straps. Have tried the clasps that can be attached to the straps but once he has pressed the release button to loosen the tension of the straps, these do not prevent him from getting his arms out. Tried talking to him and explaining the dangers. is there anything out there in the market to help?
I sympathise with you. Our 1-year-old managed to slip out of her 5-point harness somehow the other week.
There are after market products designed to prevent children from tampering with the mechanisms of various seat designs, but they are controversial and I personally would not buy them for the following reasons:
They almost certainly have not been properly tested by the car seat manufacturers, and could compromise the safety rating of the seat.
Many devices are available on sites like Amazon, which are notorious for selling poor quality or unregulated products from countries like China.
In the event of an emergency whereby someone needs to release the child from their seat quickly, any devices covering or restricting the release mechanism could be dangerous. Consider that in a serious situation the car may be upside down, the doors might not be openable, the child may need releasing through a window, etc.
In any case, as far as I know, most of the security devices address the issue of the child undoing the main clasp holding the belt together. This probably doesn't help you anyway if the issue is your son releasing the belt tension system rather than unclipping it entirely.
Find out why your son is loosening the straps. Are they hurting him? Are you tightening them too much, and are you doing so even more since being worried that he will loosen them? See if you can come to an understanding with him so that he doesn't have a reason to loosen them.
Continue to teach him that it's dangerous to release his straps (understandably this can be difficult with a young child). You could talk about this every time you get in the car, involving any other children you have, so it becomes a habit that everyone stays safe when going on a journey. Explain that you and other adults also need to stay secured in your belt.
When your son is releasing himself, don't panic. Concentrate on your driving. Come to a stop somewhere safe as soon as possible.
Ensure you have a mirror for his seat so you can see him while you're driving.
If he has an older sibling, see if they can be responsibly involved. Our oldest at 5 would tell us if our 3-year-old was trying to get out of his seat, so we could safely stop the car and deal with it. This also helps with the teaching for the younger sibling, as the behaviour and lessons being taught are reinforced by their older sibling(s).
Introduce a reward system with your son, whereby if he remains secured in his seat for the entire journey, he receives a sticker, treat, or some other reward of your choice.
Show him that the car doesn't move if he loosens his straps. If he wants to get to where you're going, or wants to get home (to have a snack, watch TV, play with his toys, whatever he likes doing), explain that he needs to stay in his straps or the car stops. When he remains in his straps the car will continue.
Give him something to hold or play with during the journey. Perhaps you could give him 'responsibility' to look after something, like a soft toy that he can sit on his lap. Tell him he needs to keep the toy safe like him in the car, and put his arms around it.