How To Install A Car Seat

To install your car seat you will need your car owner’s manual, and the manual for the car seat.   Follow all of the manufactures guidelines, both for your vehicle and the car seat, each situation is different with various combinations of car seats and vehicles.  Do not buy any aftermarket items such as a seat protector, mirror or other items as they have not been crash tested with your seat.

Choose the safest position in the vehicle for your child, the safest seat is in the back, center seat, however other passengers might not be able to sit in the window seats comfortably so that is a consideration. To avoid driver distractions it can be helpful to have a passenger in the back seat, especially with a new born or child that needs frequent attention.  For children weighing up to 40 pounds you can choose to install the seat with either the LATCH system if your car has that feature, or with a seat belt. Both are equally safe.  Note that most cars do not have a LATCH system in the center seat and you cannot use the LATCH from either window seat to secure a seat in the middle, you will have to place the child in a window seat to use LATCH.

Adjusting harness position

As most harness positions are modified from the back of the seat, it is recommended that you fit the harness on your child, BEFORE you install the car seat. Rear facing the harness should come up and over the shoulder. Forward facing, the belt should come down over the shoulder, like a seat belt. Make sure you snug up with seat harness once the child is buckled in, and cannot pinch an inch of the harness at the shoulder.

Rear Facing Seats

It is important to get the correct angle of recline for the seat, especially for newborn children who have not developed adequate head control to keep their head up, this is an important consideration for keeping their breathing healthy and airway open. Car seats will have an angle indicator, usually a line that you use to gauge the angle or a fluid level in the seat. It is recommended that the angle of the seat in rear facing for a newborn up to six months be 45 degrees, children older than 6 months with good head control in sitting can tolerate an seat angle of 50 degrees. Use the foot of the seat, or a towel to adjust the angle. It is important to have the angle assessed by a certified technician once you have installed the seat to ensure you have a correct angle for the seat.

Securing the seat

It is important to follow the car seat manual to make sure you use the correct seat belt guide for the direction of the seat, rear facing or forward facing as they are different. Be sure to use either the lock off component of the seat or the seat belt, NOT both. To tighten the seat into position. To use the seat belt, pull the belt all the way out, place through the belt path, then slowly release the seat until you hear it lock into place. To ensure a tight fit push down on the seat to lock in the last few inches of the seat belt. To check if you have the seat in tight enough, attempt to wiggle the seat by holding at the base, if you can move more than an inch in either direction, the seat is too loose and you will need to try again.

Tether Systems

If your car seat has a tether be sure to use it as described as that is how the car seat was crash tested. Not using the tether as designed will decrease the effectiveness of that seat in a crash.

Watch these videos before and after you install your seat to get a better understanding of the terms used in your owner’s manual and to check your work Again, it is important that you have your car seat inspected by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician once you have installed your seat. We are sure you have done a great job, but typically there are a few corrections to be made and few tips to make sure your child is as safe as they can be.

More how-to videos coming soon!