Spring Travel

This 1 Simple Car Seat Check Could Save Your Child's Life (VIDEO)

Car seat safety for our kids is incredibly necessary -- and it's really essential you read the manual and do everything properly and not leave anything to chance. While it's ideal to have the car seat installed by a certified expert when possible, most of us don't. We're too busy, too rushed, or too certain that we know how to do it ourselves. In fact, Allana Pinkerton, Global Safety Advocate for Diono, says that when parents come in for a car seat check, at least 80 percent of them are installed wrong!

However, if you've only got ten minutes right now, and you want to check to make sure of one thing that might be wrong with your car seat, experts highly suggest you check that the car seat has a tight fit inside the car. Ideally, this would be done every time you put your child in the car seat.

"Different types of seatbelts have different ways of locking, and they can become loose over time," says Pinkerton told us. "Having that seat installed tightly is very important." This goes for car seats using the Latch belt too.

So go to your car seat and check that the fit is tight enough. Here's how:

1. Use your upper body weight to push into the car seat. Place your hands, one on each side of the seat, at the belt path.

2. Pull the car seat from side to side.

3. If it slides more than an inch in either direction (it's okay to eyeball it, no need to break out the ruler) then it is too loose. If it does not move at all, then that's fine!

How to tighten it:

1. Push your arm or hand into the car seat.

2. Use your upper body weight to push into the car seat.

3. Tighten the seat belt or the Latch belt.

4. Do NOT do this with a child in the seat.

5. Make sure the seat belt is in a locked position while you do this.

Another reason the seat might not be locked in safe is that sometimes passengers can accidentally unbuckle the car seat by mistake when they reach for their own, so be sure to check that as well.

Why is a tight fit so important?

Says Gina Duchossois, Supervisor of Kohl's Injury Prevention Program at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: "The goal of a tight fit is to minimize movement. If the car seat is not tight in the vehicle or the harness is not tight on the child, then you may have more movement of both the car seat and child, which increases injury risk to the child."

A tight fit is important for every type of car seat, from infant, to convertible, to booster. As Julie Vallese, Consumer Safety Expert for Dorel Juvenile Group, says: "If I had a short period to tell a parent or caregiver what to focus on, I would say 'Its fit.' How does that car seat fit your child, fit your car, fit your life, fit your ability to use it correctly every time?"

So did you check? Was yours in right?

And check out our special giveaway of a Chicco NextFit Convertible car seat!

Image via Whisson/Jordan/Corbis/Video via Safety1st/YouTube

car seat safety

6 Comments

To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

thePB... thePBandJmom

This is not correct. The seat should move less than one inch at the seat belt path NOT where the child's bottom would be.

nonmember avatar CarSeatTech

To check for proper tightness you should hold the car seat AT THE BELT PATH with your non-dominant hand and give it a firm shake. It is not necessary nor recommended to use any of your body weight when checking tightness. Seats should move 1" or less at the belt path (it is perfectly safe/normal for there to be more movement at other parts of the seat. Also be sure to always use the top tether for forward facing seats and for rear facing Diono, Combi, Britax, and Peg Perago seats.

nonmember avatar CarSeatTech

To check for proper tightness you should hold the car seat AT THE BELT PATH with your non-dominant hand and give it a firm shake. It is not necessary nor recommended to use any of your body weight when checking tightness. Seats should move 1" or less at the belt path (it is perfectly safe/normal for there to be more movement at other parts of the seat). Be sure to always use the top tether for forward facing seats and for rear facing Diono, Combi, Britax, and Peg Perago seats. Also the child pictured for this article is improperly restrained (child should be rear facing and therefor the harness straps should come from below the shoulders and the harness straps need to be untwisted).

Maureen Lindner Kelly

I just sit in it an bounce up and down and pull the strap as tight as I can. The seat doesn't move at all. Safety first for my grandchildren. And the harness straps should be snug with the large plastic buckle across their chest just a few inches under their chin. Most like have it to low or to loose which could cause serious injury in a crash. SAFETY FIRST for our little ones. And ALWAYS make sure that your child is in the right seat for their size. I see toddlers in infant seats and visa versa. The all list the weight and heights for each particular infant seat, car seat and booster seats.

Senia... Seniahmom

If you're going to post an article to do one simple safety check please fact check that what you are writing is correct. As noted in previous comments the method in the article is flat out wrong.

Charisma Langford

It would be nice to have a place to put the straps so they would stay open. I hate putting my son in the car and then having to move him to get the straps from under him.

1-6 of 6 comments
F