It should be easy to install a car seat: just follow the directions to a T, and your child should be safe, right? But the problem is, car seat companies and automotive manufacturers aren’t really quite on the same page, so each combination of car seat and vehicle is just a little different. Plus, there are lots of little details in correct installation and use that are easy to forget.
A Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST), certified through the Safe Kids Coalition, can show you the ropes of installation, but it’s good to know the basics yourself. On the Today Show website, Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, a professor of pediatrics at the Oregon Health and Science University, listed the following tips for installing an infant car seat:
- Tighten the harness snugly enough so that you can’t pinch any slack between your fingers in the harness webbing
- Make sure the chest clip is at the level of the infant’s armpit
- In the rear-facing car seat the harness should come through the slot at or below the child’s shoulders
- Make sure when you install the car seat that it’s tight with no more than an inch of play side-to-side and back-to-front
- Make sure you adjust the car seat at the correct angle: If it’s too tight there’s a risk of the baby’s airway getting blocked and if it’s too reclined, it won’t protect the baby in a crash
- Use either the seat belt or the lower anchors, but not both, to secure the car seat — unless the manual specifically says you can use both
I also thought this quiz from Babble, created by Babble blogger and CPST Katie Loeb, was a great resource – having errors presented visually can be very helpful! Give it a try and find out how much you know about proper car seat use – and don’t forget to read the detailed answers and explanations at the end.
When we choose which car seats are in our selection at Magic Beans, ease of proper installation is one of our most important criteria, and most of our seats have features designed to help you get it right. Plus, when you shop at our stores, we’ll check how well the seat fits into your car before you buy. However, we’re not CPSTs (and, you may or may not live near our stores!), so do yourself a favor: find a CPST near you! It’s worth the effort for your child’s safety and your peace of mind.