Is your car seat installed correctly? 75% chance that it’s not!

May 21, 2010

I was at the library today when I saw an NHTSA ad proclaiming that “3 out of 4 car seats are installed incorrectly.” Wow! I am not a carseat expert, but I’ve become somewhat passionate about carseat safety. A few common problems I have seen when I am out and about:

Turning a baby or toddler forward-facing. I know, I know – it’s tempting. Now that Calvin is 20 months old, I have certainly been tempted myself. But the bottom line is that rear-facing is far safer and your child should remain rear facing until he reaches the weight limit of the car seat.

Not paying attention to the shoulder straps. The straps should meet high up on the chest – near the armpits. I try to remember that the clip should go in-between the nipples. This is really important – otherwise the child may fly out in a crash.


Using a booster seat too soon. Boosters shouldn’t be used until the child reaches 40 lbs. Many also recommend that a child also be at least four years old.

Last but not least, when installing a new seat, get it checked out by a certified inspector. I did this with both my infant seat and my convertible seat. Now that I have seen how the seats should be installed, I feel comfortable installing them myself when needed. I recommend calling your local fire department – it took a few tries, but I was finally able to find an inspector near where I live. And it’s free!

Some of these safety concerns are not governed by any laws. It’s up to you to make sure that your child is safely installed in his seat. Don’t be too quick to imitate what you see others doing – it may not be what is safest for your child.

More Carseat Basics.

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