After searching for a good infant car seat, you finally found one!
Now you’ve done the investment and brought it home.
What remains is to properly install the seat in your car, right?
While it’s tempting to quickly unwrap the package and latch it to a cool spot in your car, it’s not always easy as it seems.
In fact, recent reports reveal that out of every four car seat you come across on the road, only one is properly installed. Doesn’t that sound worrying?
What this implies is that there’s more to correctly setting up an infant car seat than just reading an instruction manual and following the directions outlaid there.
Except you plan to hire a professional, you might want to take some time to learn how to do it the right way.
Not installing a child seat properly will make your baby experience a lot of discomforts. Sometimes it can even lead to an accident.
Steps to Installing An Infant Car Seat | Getting it Right
An infant car seat that is not properly installed can easily shift or dislodge in the event of an accident. There have been several cases of serious injuries and deaths caused by the stretching of a child’s spinal cord in a forward crash.
This is why it’s extremely important to get the child seat installation right. And for you to do so, you can either hire a professional to do with (preferably from the manufacturer). Or, you must spend some time studying the instruction manual that comes with the seat in order to do a fault-proof job.
You may also read our other content about Car Seat Safety Tips, we think this content also helps to keep your precious little one secured.
Since there are different brands of car seat, installation will likely vary. Each seat usually has its own instruction manual which should be used for set-up and preserved as a source of reference.
When installing your child’s car seat, endeavor to follow the specific instruction in the instruction manual. And in case you no longer have the manual; you can access the information you need on the manufacturer’s website.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with a general guideline on how to install an infant car seat in your vehicle without unnecessarily exposing your little pumpkin to danger.
So without further ado, let’s walk you through the steps.
Before You Start
Before you get started with the installation, you need to check the seat where you plan to fit the infant safety seat or restraint to ensure it’s suitable.
Not all vehicle seats are suitable for installing a child restraint. A good example is the extra seats that are often found in the back of many station wagons.
It is not advisable to ride with an infant in such vehicles.
Installing A Rear-Facing Safety Car Seat
Below is a general guideline on how to install a rear-facing infant car seat;
First thing to do is to position the infant seat in your car’s back seat; make sure it’s facing the rear of the car window. Although we strongly advise setting up the restraint in the passenger front seat.
In case you must do this, make sure you turn off the airbag of the passenger seat.
Next thing is to hook the child safety seat to the base of your car seat. To accomplish this, you must follow the guideline given in the safety seat installation manual.
Make sure the infant seat is tight in such a way that it’s difficult to pull from any one of the sides. Ideally, it should be able to pass the “inch test” by shifting not more than 1 when given a forward tug.
In case the seat moves more than 1 inch when pulled, it means the installation is faulty, and you have to start all over again. The best way to avoid this is to make sure the car belt goes through the right slots specified in the installation manual.
Next is to recline the child seat. Make sure this is properly done to safeguard the baby’s head and prevent it from flopping forward in the event of a car jerk.
Finally, you want to ensure that the shoulder straps of the seat are positioned away from the neck. To ensure the comfort of your child, you may want to place a towel or any soft fabric between him/her and the crotch strap.
Installing A Forward-Facing Safety Car Seat
In case you have a kid that is up to two years of age or above the height or weight limit of a rear-facing infant car seat, then you might want to switch to a forward-facing seat.
Below is a general guideline on how to install a forward-facing infant car seat.
Just like step one above, place the restraint on the back seat of your car, but this time around, it should be facing front.
Make sure the base of the safety seat is firmly sitting on the back seat. Also, check the back to make sure it’s firm against the cushion.
Next thing to do is to locate the tethers on the safety seat and pass it through the path provided, then attach to the tether anchor of your car.
Make sure the lap belt passes directly above your kid’s thighs not the tummy.
Check to see if the seat is tight enough by carrying out the inch test as described in the previous section.
Installing A Booster Safety Car Seat
Check for lap and shoulder belts. These are extremely important for a booster seat.
During installation, make sure the vehicle’s seatbelt passes over your kid’s shoulder, not his neck.
As indicated in the last session, double check the lap belt passages above your kid’s thighs not the tummy.
Finally, make sure the seat is positioned in such a way that allows your kid to sit upright.
Seatbelt or LATCH?
When setting up a safety car seat, you will be required to use either your car seat belt or the LATCH proponent.
For starters, LATCH means “lower anchors and tethers for children”; it was added to cars starting from 2002 and is a system that allows the safe installation of child car seats without the car seatbelt.
Both the seatbelt and LATCH system are safe. Opting for one over the other basically depends on the model of your child safety car seat, as well as the one you consider more convenient.
You can achieve a tight and secure fit with any one of them as long as you are able to follow the instruction manual that comes with the safety seat.
However, the LATCH system usually requires some specific anchorage and tethers for attaching the safety seat to your vehicle. It is basically designed to be safer and more convenient than using the seat belt, but this is not always the case.
Wrapping it up,
Hopefully, by now, you know how to safely install a child car seat. Remember, this is only meant to be a general guide.
Make sure you always refer to the owner’s manual of your car seat to clarify anything you don’t understand, or you can contact the product manufacturer.