As a parent, there is nothing more important than protecting your child. If you’re about to have a baby or planning on a pregnancy, it’s a good idea to learn how to use a child car seat. Driving always presents a potential danger, but a quality child car seat that has been installed properly will go a long way in keeping your baby safe in the event of an accident.
1. Put the Car Seat in the Back Seat
The first and most-important lesson that you should remember when installing a child car seat is that it always goes in the back. Putting the seat in the front could put your child in grave danger because of the potential to be hit by the airbag. Also, remember that an infant car seat is always installed facing backward. A baby’s neck is very weak, and if you were to slam on the brakes with the baby facing forward, he or she could be hurt.
2. Attach the Car Seat
Every brand of infant or child car seat is a bit different. Most new car seats use anchors on the lower half of the seat, but you will need to read your owner’s manual for exact details about how use the anchors. Once you get the seat in place, check to make sure it’s secure. If you try to wiggle it and it moves more than an inch from side to side, it needs to be tightened.
3. Check That the Seat is Reclined Properly
You don’t want the child car seat to hold your baby in an upright position as this could cause his or her neck to fall forward. Make sure the car seat is tilted but not more than a 45 degree angle. There should be an indicator on the base of your car seat that you can use as a guide.
4. Lower the Shoulder Straps
Next, you will want to put your baby in the seat and lower the shoulder straps as far down as they can go. Position the chest clip at the same level as your child’s armpits.
5. Add Extra Padding
If you want your baby to be more comfortable, you can put some rolled up blankets into the sides of the seat. It will help your baby fit more tightly into the seat and also provide a soft, comforting touch. However, it’s important to not put any blankets underneath or behind your baby, as this could affect the safety of the seat.
6. Use a Blanket
It’s best to not dress your baby in bulky clothing as this could prevent the straps from being tightened properly. If you need to keep your baby warm in cold weather, drape a blanket across him or her as you drive. After you arrive at your destination, you can bundle him or her in a warm jacket.
When your child grows older, you can switch to a front-facing child car seat designed for a bigger child. At this point, your child’s neck will be strong enough to face forward, but the seat must still be placed in the back seat for safety purposes. When it comes to installing this type of seat, the instructions are similar, but always check your user manual to make sure you’re doing everything correctly.