My wife and I were driving on the highway a couple of weeks ago. Our son was asleep in his Graco Infant Car seat in the back seat. We went around a sharp curve and watched his entire car seat tilt. A catastrophe waiting to happen! The base of the car seat was attached using the seat belt and locking clip…so already I have strike one as I should have been using the more secure latch system. Strike 2 – my son was at the 22 pound maximum weight in the infant car seat. This stay-at-home dad in New York did not need the third strike.
I have read several news articles documenting research that shows anywhere from 40% – 80% of car seats are installed INCORRECTLY. A scary fact, even if they are off by a few percentage points. Since my scary research, we had a friend install our Britax transitional car seat using the latch system. We put in the middle of the back seat (I am told this is more safe than either of the back passenger seats) & it does not move more than inch front to back or side to side.
Popular Articles provides Tips For Installing Your Car Seat Correctly and share that The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently reported that up to 82 percent of infant car seats are installed wrong, increasing the risk of severe injury or mortality if an accident occurs. You should also consider having your installation checked out by a certified car seat safety inspector (more on this below). You can do this at your local fire station. In fact, your better-off just calling. Many have routine car seat installation days where they will inspect and even install your child’s car seat free. These technicians have at least 32 hours training in proper car seat installation. That’s probably 32 more hours than you’ll ever have to figure out how to safely install your baby’s car seat.
If you do need to install your seat on your own at least initially, here are some tips for doing it right:
1. First, check to make sure you have the right seat. An infant carrier for example, will only hold a baby up to 1-year old and 20 pounds. If your baby falls outside this range you’ll need a different seat.
2. If possible always position your child’s carseat in the rear of the car. This is the safest place for your baby. The middle of the backseat in fact is by far the safest place. You should never place your baby’s car seat in the front passenger side if there is an air bag there you can’t deactivate or uninstall.
3. Be sure before starting you read your car seat manufacturers user guide carefully and completely.
4. Once you install the seat, either using a LATCH system or traditional belt, check to make sure the seat doesn’t move more than one inch in any direction.
5. If using a rear facing seat or infant carrier make sure the seat is angled properly to support your babies head.
In NYC, we have the “Car Seat Lady” on the Upper West Side, who charges around $75 to provide a full inspection. Their website is very useful even if this company is pricey!