According to research, approximately three out of four car seats are improperly installed. However, you can avoid becoming part of that statistic. Watch UnityPoint Health Injury Prevention Program Coordinator and Certified Car Seat Technician, Jessica LaCroix, demonstrate the step-by-step process of correctly installing your car seat through instructional videos.
- Two Types of Car Seats
Often, this is the first dilemma parents or guardians face when choosing a car seat. LaCroix explains the differences between the two most common models, including weight limits, how long you can use with your child and more.
- Car Seat Installation: Seat Belt
Before you begin the car seat installation process, read both your vehicle owner’s manual AND your car seat manual, as it is important to understand the instructions for your specific car seat. It is suggested you place the car seat in the rear center of your vehicle’s back seat. However, if the car seat doesn’t fit properly in that position, you have two bucket seats or you have multiple car seats, using the left or right back seats is acceptable.
You have two choices when installing your car seat: using the seat belt OR using the LATCH system. In this video, watch LaCroix install the car seat using a seat belt.
- Car Seat Installation: LATCH
Remember, when installing your car seat, use EITHER the seat belt OR the LATCH system. When using the LATCH system, it is important to refer to your vehicle owner’s manual to confirm the location of the LATCH anchors in your vehicle. It is also important to use the manual to verify which anchors should be used for the seating position you are installing the car seat on. Here, LaCroix outlines the process for using your vehicle’s LATCH system.
- Securing Baby in Car Seat
Once your car seat is installed, you also need to evaluate if your baby is secured correctly within the car seat harness by passing the “pinch test.”
- Aftermarket Car Seat Products
Aftermarket car seat products are items that did not come with your car seat and were not crash-tested with your car seat. These products could impact the safety of your baby. It is a parents’ tough decision on whether or not to use these products. Some examples include:
- Mirrors and certain vehicle window shades – while not directly touching the car seat, the hard edges of these objects makes them potentially harmful in the event of a crash, where everything in the vehicle will shift powerfully. Hard or heavy items within the vehicle can impact those riding in the vehicle, causing injuries.
- Car seat covers – some car seat covers for use in the colder months fit between the car seat harness and your baby, making the fit between the harness and your child too loose. For the same reason, LaCroix says it’s a good idea to avoid puffy winter coats in car seats. She suggests opting for car seat covers that only go over the top of the car seat harness and dressing your child in thinner, warm layers – such as a fleece – and keeping baby warm with blankets on top of the harness.
Some aftermarket car seat products include car seat manufacture logos on the packaging. However, LaCroix advises you contact your car seat manufacture for any aftermarket product you are considering to ask if the product is compatible with your car seat and safe to use.
Best Car Seat for Your Family
You might be wondering, what is the safest car seat I can buy? LaCroix says it’s not a specific brand or seat. Watch the video to hear the three things you need to ask yourself before selecting a car seat for your family.
Car Seat Resources