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Here is the horrible truth: every day we lose 5 children in-car crashes. They are the leading cause of death for kids in this country and yet most of us are completely untrained in the best way to keep our kids safe from them: by properly installing a car seat. Research shows 95% misuse of car seats. That number is shocking!
So just how do we ensure we are installing our children’s car seats safely and properly? I’ve done some research and today I’m going to share with you what I’ve found are the best ways to ensure you’re installing your car seat correctly every single time.
Read the car seat manual thoroughly
The first and most important step to installing your child’s car seat correctly is to read the manual. In the manual is really where you will find everything you need to know about installing your child’s car seat. Depending on your child’s weight, height, and latch or seat belt set up will determine how to correctly install so don’t just assume you know the right way. Always read your manual and double-check.
read your car’s manual
In your car’s manual, you will find detailed information about car seat safety for your particular vehicle. For example, where is the best location for your car seat, if you have the latch system or if you need to use a set belt and where should your tether straps be placed.
Pick the perfect car SEAT LOCATION
You will need to decide where is the best location for each car seat in your vehicle. You should have a good idea of where your car seat should be placed by now after reading your car seat manual and cars manual. If you have more than 1 child in a car seat this can be challenging at times. I had 5 cars seats in my vehicle at once for a few years. We are now down to 3 car seats total. If you’re looking for a vehicle to out 3 cars seats across at the same time I suggest giving this post a look. We personally have a Honda Odyssey and love it.
check for movement
Here is where many parents tend to go wrong. I know I did. When my oldest 2 kids were younger I thought the car seats needed to be extremely tight. Like you could not move that sucker if you tried tight. Turns out you should just be checking the belt path, where the seat belt or lower connector strap is holding the seat tight. It should move less than 1-inch side to side, back to front.
check harness strap
Here is also where many parents go wrong. Not having the straps at the correct height for your child or not tight enough on the child. Even if your car seat is installed perfectly if your child is not in the seat properly it won’t do its job correctly. A great way to check for harness tightness is using the pinch test. For a rear facing child, the shoulder harness straps should be just below or at the shoulders. For forward facing, they should be at or just slightly above the shoulders. The harness should fit snug and comfortable, with no slack. Hence the pinch test. If you can pinch the straps they are too loose.
double check your work
Go back over each step and just make sure you have installed everything properly to keep your little one as safe as possible. If you are still not 100% confident in your work ask for help. Schedule a car seat check in your area. Its always better to be safe than sorry.
I hope you now feel confident in installing your child’s car seat correctly.
Five Little Bears was compensated to write this article on fivelittlebears.com