Baby, Carseat, infant, Installation, Safety -

Six common car seat installation mistakes: SAFETY ALERT!!

Here are six of the biggest mistakes when installing or using your car seat!

We all want what’s best for our little ones. You try to make the best decisions concerning their safety, education, and health, but sometimes things slip through the cracks. Not surprisingly, sometimes car seat safety is one of those things. In a recent study, it was discovered that three out of four car seats are currently installed incorrectly. While this may be a frightening statistic, its repercussions are even more terrifying: 9000 children under the age of twelve have lost their lives in the last 11 years and automobile-related accidents are now the leading cause of death in children. The good news, however, is that while the accidents themselves cannot be prevented, the injuries your child will sustain in the event of a crash can be. Here are the top car seat mistakes you don’t even know you’re making, and how to fix them.

MISTAKE #1: Misinstallation

While it is always recommended to consult a car seat technician, there are a couple simple rules to live by when installing your car seat (and they even rhyme to help you remember!). If you don’t remember anything from this article, remember this: Inch and Pinch. The Inch Test refers to how tightly your seat sits in your car: if you can wiggle your seat an inch or more side-to-side or from front to back, you need to tighten it! Even if your car seat is installed tightly and correctly, it can’t do its job correctly if your shoulder straps are too loose, and that’s where the Pinch Test comes in! If you can gather enough slack in your straps to pinch between your thumb and index finger, they are too loose! Again, it is recommended to seek the advice of a professional (such as your local fire department!) these two simple rules can make a major difference in the safety of your child!

MISTAKE #2: All About The Angles

In the whirlwind that is having a newborn, it is easy to forget that your seat needs to be at a 45 degree angle, but it is a vitally important thing to remember. If your seat is too upright, your little one cannot fully support their neck and head properly, which can result in whiplash and even restriction of air supply. Most car seats, including the brands we carry here at Baby Logic, feature a level indicator to help make sure your precious kiddo is safe and sound at the right angle!

MISTAKE #3: Rear-Facing, Smear-Facing

While it may be tempting to turn your baby around so you can keep a closer eye on them and it may feel as if forward-facing would provide a more stimulating environment, resist the urge!!! 

It has been proven over and over again that rear-facing is the safest position for your little one. It is recommended that you keep baby rear-facing until they are two years old or they outgrow the height and weight limitations for rear-facing. Until two years old, a baby’s spinal cord and supporting bones are still developing and are not strong enough to take the force usually exerted in an accident. Rear-facing IS the safest position for your child, so keep them that way as long as possible! Tip: if you’re concerned about not being able to see your baby, there are tons of awesome mirrors on the market to solve your problem!

MISTAKE #4: Second Hand Seats

We get it: car seats are expensive. And while it may be tempting to buy your seat second hand, it is definitely not recommended. First of all, the materials in car seats do expire. Secondly, you never know whether or not the seat was involved in an accident. Both of these factors could contribute to your seat not being able to do its job of protecting your kiddo properly, and who wants to risk that? The only time, let me emphasize it again, the only time it is okay to get a used car seat is it you are getting it from a trusted friend or relative who has been the one and only owner of the seat and can guarantee you it has not been involved in an accident. Remember, even if this is the case, always check the expiration date of your seat, which can usually be located on the bottom or back of the seat itself.

MISTAKE #5: Pimpin’ The Ride

While there may be thousands of toys, trinkets, toys, and covers that are sold as accessories for car seats, it is important to remember that most of these have not been crash-tested and should not be used when the vehicle is in motion as they could get in the way of your car seat doing its job. Remember to never place anything between your baby and the bottom of the seat or its straps.

MISTAKE #6: “Boosters Are For Babies!”

Laws differ state to state, but it is recommended across the board that your child be in a booster seat until at least eight years old or eighty pounds. Many boosters will go all the way up to 120 pounds! Remember, your child is not ready for just a seat belt until the shoulder strap sits comfortably and does not cut into their neck, their back can sit flat against the back of the seat comfortably, and their knees bend fully over the edge of the seat. If your kiddo is having a tough time accepting sitting in a booster, check out our blog on how to make car seats cool :)


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  • Bibs and Binkies

    Hey Codi! The best way to know when your infant is too big for their infant seat is to check the owner’s manual of the seat or the label affixed to the side. It will indicate a maximum weight and height for the seat. Seats will vary but the majority of infant seats max out anywhere between 22 and 35 lbs and 32" in height. The Chicco Keyfit 30 is suitable for infants up to 30lbs and 32". The Britax B-Safe 35 and Elite infant seats are suitable for infants up to 35lbs and 32". The Doona and Uppababy Mesa max out at 35lbs as well.

  • Dacey Jedlicka

    Great article. I am looking forward to using my britax. The base seems heavy duty and the whole works seems solid!

  • Julie

    I have learned so much about car seats from the car seats for the littles website!!

  • Sarah

    We are so happy with our NEW Bob carseat and stroller. This article is a great reminder of the continually changing world of cars seat safety.

  • Emily

    We bought our first carseat from you and your staff helped us feel more comfortable with the whole process. Now it’s time to upgrade out of the infant carseat and I look forward to the much needed guidance…. and maybe a gift card win? :)

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