I mean, I get the idea of car seats for safety reasons and all, but why on God’s green earth do they have to be so difficult to install? Why do I dread switching them from one vehicle to the other? Why do I have to act like I’m wresting a small animal when I put them back in my SUV? Why are they all different? Why why why why?!
Seriously. I’ve done a lot of research on car seats and which ones are safer and which ones are the best. It seems as though many parents do not know how to properly put their little one in car seats. There is a lot of info out there. To save you some time and energy I put together this quick and dirty list of my five how to’s.
Here are my top 5 car seat tips:
1- Make sure the car seat cannot move side to side or up and down. It should always have a snug fit. If it’s sliding, something is wrong. Start by tightening the straps that secure the car seat to the vehicle seat. Don’t forget about the teethed strap in the back. Every car seat should have instruction stickers right on the seat itself. It is always wise to read the manual if you can find it. If not look online using the model number located on the seat.
2- Do the pinch test. If you put your child in the seat and you can pinch the straps after you have tightened them. Tighten them more. The two finger test no longer applies.
3- No coats, jackets, snow pants, or outerwear of any kind should ever be in a car seat. Put a jacket or blanket over the child once they are safely in their seat. This can be life saving.
4- Keep them rear facing as long as possible. I know this is a controversial topic and a lot of people think it’s ok to switch forward facing sooner than 2 years of age, but I strongly suggest you do not do this. Their little spinal cords are not fully ready to be forward facing anytime before that and anatomically speaking that doesn’t happen until just shy of the age of four!
5- Once they are strapped in, wiggle the car seat a bit and you will see that this will actually loosen the straps up allowing you to snug them in even tighter. I started doing this after I discovered the straps were a bit looser when I would get to my destination after driving for awhile. Obviously that’s not the goal. The straps should be tight before the car leaves park.
I hope I’ve at least helped a little by giving you these very important tips when it comes to car seat safety. I’m no expert, but I like to keep my kids as safe as possible when traveling. I wish I could make them easier to install and swap between vehicles but I can’t change that. Until then, you will find me sweaty and swearing after properly reinstalling the car seats in my SUV. At least I’ve done my part in doing it as safely as I know how!