Having difficulty with the installation instructions? Get help at a Child Safety Seat Inspection Station. Visit NHSTA: Child Safety Seat Inspection Station Locator to find a station near you. Or, take a look at the step-by-step instructions provided at NHTSA - Child Safety Seats: Selecting, Installing & Using.
Getting It Right
We've seen that children are safer in the back of the car and should be placed in an appropriate car seat or booster until they can be seated properly using the seat belt. We also know that for a car seat to be effective it has to be fitted correctly.
Sadly, many people buy and install their car seats but fail to ensure it is securely fastened and properly installed. You should always use the correct harness slots and make sure they are snug; all seats are different but the instructions will offer guidance on the correct route for the seat belt. The seat should be tightly secured - pulling on it as a check before each journey is a good habit to get into. The seat should not move easily from side to side or towards the front of the car. Your seatbelt might have a locking system built in, but if not you'll need to invest in one.
When your child is in the seat, it is important to have the harness chest clip in the right place - the child's mid-chest or at armpit level. Straight harnesses with the straps positioned at or slightly above the child's shoulders are a must. If your child needs a blanket or another covering, place it over the top of the harness rather than trying to stretch the straps of the harness over the covering.
Of course, all seats come with a full set of instructions and it's well worth double-checking to make sure you've installed your car seat as safely as possible. Remember, following the instructions is vital to ensuring the safety of your child.
For more information on child car seats and related topics, check out the links on the next page.