Child Car Safety

How to install an infant car seat

So, you've gone out and chosen from the hundreds of properly certified infant car seats available, and now it's time to install it. Make sure you don't throw away the installation manual, because surprisingly, installing a car seat is more difficult than you think.

Specific steps must be followed to ensure your car seat does its job properly in the event of a high-impact collision. Car seats from different manufacturers may vary from each other slightly, but on the whole they are usually similar in design.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when installing a car seat:

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Make It Tight

Make sure the car seat is secured as tightly as possible. Don't be afraid to really exert some force when you're tightening the seatbelt. Car seats should not move more than 1 inch in any direction. It's best to verify the tightness each time you secure your child in the seat.

Follow All Instructions

Consult your car's manual to make sure you are installing the car seat safely. Depending on the year and model of your car, the type and placement of anchoring systems and clips will vary. Be sure to thoroughly read all instructions to make sure you have the proper car seat for your car.

Securing Your Child

Make sure you properly secure your child each time you buckle them in. There should be no more than one finger's width between the harness strap and your child's collar bone. Harnesses should lay flat against the chest, not folded or twisted, and the harness's chest clips should be positioned roughly at armpit height.

Stay Away From Airbags

Child safety seats should never be positioned near active airbags. Airbags deploy with an astonishing amount of force that can seriously harm young children and infants. Always install car seats in the back seat of a car or the last two rows of a minivan.

Front-Facing or Rear-Facing

Most car seats can be installed in two positions - front-facing or rear-facing. You may want to choose one or the other depending on the age of your child or personal preference. For example, many people believe rear-facing car seats are much safer for younger infants, who have a fragile frame that is better protected in a rear-facing seat. Whichever direction you choose, be sure to follow the appropriate steps during installation.