If you’re like most parents, you’ll spend a lot of time researching car seats before you actually buy one. That’s because when it comes to your child’s safety, it’s one of the most important purchases that you’ll ever make. But the best safety features can’t protect your little one if a car seat isn’t properly installed. Before buckling up baby, make sure you’ve followed these important dos and don’ts of car seat installation.
DO check that the car seat is tightly in place before every use. Once installed, it should budge less than 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) side-to-side or front-to-back when you tug at the belt path area. Start over if there’s too much movement. Use your body weight to help you pull tight the lower anchor strap or seat belt (before locking it).
DO make sure the harness straps are correctly positioned for your child’s height and the car seat’s direction. The straps should always lay flat and fit snugly but comfortably. Position the chest clip at armpit level when the car seat is rear-facing and forward-facing.
DO have your car seat looked over by a trained child seat technician to ensure that the installation is correct. No one wants to think about an accident happening but if one does the safest spot for your little one is in a car seat that is properly installed.
DON’T fail to use the right belt path. The seat belt or lower anchor straps slide through a belt path to secure the car seat to the vehicle. On convertible car seats there are two belt paths: One is designed for rear-facing use and the other for the forward-facing position. Make sure you use the appropriate one.
DON’T underestimate the importance of using the five-point harness properly. During an accident, the harness plays a critical role by spreading the crash forces over the strongest parts of the body to reduce the risk of injury or death.
DON’T leave more than one finger space between the harness and your child. (Straps are too loose if you can pinch them between your thumb and index finger.)