A Guide to Properly Installing Your Child Safety Seat

Child safety seats are much more sophisticated than they were ten or 20 years ago. They really help to keep infants and toddlers safer for this reason, but they’re also harder to install. There are a bunch of different buckles and straps to get in place, and it can be a bit overwhelming the first time you install the seat. It’s vital that you learn how to do it properly for the safety of your little one, so here’s a quick guide on getting the process just right.

Make Use of the LATCH System

Any vehicle manufactured after 2002 comes with a LATCH safety system, which is a set of metal loops built right into the seats of your vehicle. The safety seats clip right into the loops to secure them firmly in place.
When installing the seat into these latch systems, it’s important that you get the straps nice and tight, so the seats don’t wiggle around. It’s also important that you don’t rely on the latches any longer after the weight of the child and seat together surpasses 65 pounds because that is the limit of a latch system. At that point, the child should be secured using the seat belts instead.

Consult the Manual

It’s critical that you consult the safety seat manual during the installation process. The manual will let you know how to complete the installation properly, and avoid making dangerous mistakes. The seat might seem simple to install, but without reading the manual, you could miss a key step that is vital for you to get right. Do yourself a favor and make sure that you don’t rush through the installation process.

An Installation Checklist

When installing the seats in your vehicle, make sure that you check all the items off this list to ensure a proper installation each and every time.

  • Install the seat in the back or middle row of seats
  • Ensure the seatbelt or tether straps are taut
  • Make sure the base of the seat is at the proper angle of incline, if not, adjust your vehicle seats
  • Rely on a locking clip to secure the seatbelt in cars built before 1997
  • Make sure the straps are straight without any twists

Remain Rear Facing as Long as Possible

It’s recommended that you keep your child in the rear-facing position for as long as he or she is under the maximum height and weight requirements. This helps keep your child safer in a serious accident and is always a good practice to follow.

Properly Securing Your Little One

When securing your child in the safety seat, it’s important that you do a good job each and every time. In order to make sure the little one is locked in the harness straps should be snug, with no more than one finger of slack at either side. The clip holding the harnesses together should be positioned right at the armpits of your child. It’s important to be sure there are no twists in any of the straps of the harness.

Proper Seatbelt Positioning

When you put your little one in a booster seat, it’s important that you have the seatbelt in the proper position for safety. Adjust the belt so that it lap portion goes over the top of your child’s thighs snugly without resting on the stomach. The chest belt should cross over your little one’s chest and remain snugly in place in that position.

Follow these steps to ensure that your child is riding in your vehicle safely. Always take your time when installing safety seats and securing your child for maximum safety.