How to Successfully Install Infant Car Seat?

How to Successfully Install Infant Car Seat

To successfully install an infant car seat, you will use one of two safety systems. The first option uses the seatbelt to secure the car seat. The second option uses the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system which employs the anchors located at the bight (where the seat and seat back meet) of the seat.

Both methods are equally safe to use, but never use both at the same time. Before attempting to install a car seat consult both the vehicle and the car seat manuals to ensure proper positioning of the car seat.

Proper installation of car seats is a matter of life and death. Using a successfully installed car seat reduces the risk of injury by as much as 82%. According to the CDC, an estimated 59% of car seats are misused increasing the risk of death or harm to your child.

How do you Install a Rear-Facing Car Seat Base Using the LATCH System?

Before installing the base be sure that your vehicle is parked on level ground. (Graco) Also, check to make sure the seat is completely clear of any debris before placing the base into the car.

  • Read the vehicle manual and the car seat manual for proper installation instructions. The vehicle manual will instruct which area of the vehicle is the safest place to install the car seat base.
  • Often, the middle seat is the safest, but if you are unable to secure the base snuggly or the middle seat lacks anchors then the side passenger seat is best.
  • Place the base in the preferred location facing the back of the vehicle.
  • Locate the lower connectors on the car seat base and the lower anchors in the bight of the seat. Only use the anchors designated for that seat. If the middle seat doesn’t have anchors do NOT use one anchor from either side of the middle position.
  • Attach the lower connector to the lower anchor, be sure that the straps lay flat and aren’t twisted.
  • Locate the adjuster strap, next place a knee on the middle of the base and apply pressure. Using your body weight, hold the base firmly in place, be careful not to raise the base up in the back. Then, pull tightly on the adjuster strap cinching the base securely to the seat.
  • Test to make sure the car seat base is securely in place, by moving it forward and back and side to side, it should not move more than an inch.
To successfully install an infant car seat, you will use one of two safety systems. The first option uses the seatbelt to secure the car seat. The second option uses the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system which employs the anchors located at the bight (where the seat and seat back meet) of the seat.  There is so much to learn, but we have it all in one spot for you.

Rarely do rear-facing car seats have tethers, but if your car seat does you will use a slip knot around the track of the driver or passenger seat to anchor it in place. Once fully connected remove slack from the strap. If you have a Volvo, they have an anchor on the floor for the tether.

It’s crucial to remember that as your child grows the combined weight of your child and car seat cannot exceed 65 pounds if they do you will need to use the seatbelt instead of the LATCH system.

How do you Install a Rear-Facing Car Seat Base using a Seatbelt?

Before installing the car seat base be sure that your vehicle is parked on level ground. (Grayco) Also, check to make sure the seat is completely clear of any debris before place the base into the car.

  • Read the vehicle manual and the car seat manual for proper installation instructions. The vehicle manual will instruct which area of the vehicle is the safest place to install the car seat base.

Often, the middle seat is the safest, but if you are unable to secure the car seat snuggly, then the side passenger seat is best.

Also, the manual will indicate the vehicle’s seatbelt type.

  • Place the base in the desired location facing to the back of the vehicle.
  • Thread the seatbelt through the lower belt guides and fasten the belt in place.
  • This is where vehicles may differ, but most seatbelts have an internal locking system.

If your vehicle has the internal locking system, slowly pull the belt all the way out, then slowly feed it back in. During this step, you will hear a ratcheting noise, if you don’t, give the belt a quick jerk to see if the locking mechanism is engaged.

Once the belt has been completely fed back in, use your body weight to lean into the base to remove any extra slack.

If your vehicle does not have an internal locking system, you will need to use the car’s locking clip to lock the seatbelt securely in place.

  • Test to make sure the car seat base is securely in place, by moving it forward and back and side to side, it should not move more than an inch.

How to Install an Infant Car Seat without a Base?

Using a car seat without a base is as safe as using it with a base. The car seat’s base is strictly to add convenience.

The same steps you followed when using the base would apply to this situation.

If using the LATCH method, the lower connectors are attached to the back of the car seat. Please note when not using the LATCH system, be sure to keep the connectors stored on the back of the car seat or base.

If using the seat belt method, you will use the lower belt guides located on the car seat.

The process is the same as above after fastening the seat belt or anchors in place.

Why does the Angle of the Car Seat Matter with Infants?

Regardless of which method you are using or if you are using a car seat base or not, you always want to ensure your car seat is at the correct angle. This can be done after your child has been secured in their car seat.

Maybe the angle of a car seat doesn’t sound like that important, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

If the angle of the car seat is too far forward, the infant’s head may fall forward cutting off their airway. If the car seat is positioned at an angle too far back, your child has a greater chance of injury if you’re in a car accident. Luckily, car seats are designed with an indicator that aids you in keeping the car seat at the correct angle. Most times it is easy to adjust the angle of the car seat, but be cautious that you do not unintentionally pull the car seat away from the support of the car.

In the event you are unable to adjust the car seat to the correct angle, you can purchase an angle adjuster to help you with this. One brand is Diono which can be found online or in stores that carry car seats.

Is it Okay to Change from a Rear-Facing Car Seat to a Front Facing Car Seat Early?

All car seats have restrictions for weight and height. Children 2 years old and younger should always be in a rear-facing car seat.

If the child is below the age of 2 but is exceeding the recommended height and weight restrictions you should purchase a larger rear-facing car seat.

In Conclusion:

It may be tempting to move your child to a front facing car seat early, but remember every time we graduate our child to the next level the safety effectiveness decreases.

We know car seat installation can be intimidating, especially knowing the statistics of how often they are misused. So, if you’re uncomfortable or unsure about installing your car seat, you can contact a local car seat technician for assistance.

Hope you enjoyed reading this very important article, brought to you by Car Seats Mom.

Keren Simanova

Keren Simanova is a busy mommy by day and a passionate writer by night. While spending countless hours researching car seats for her children, she created an educational car seat blog, CarSeatsMom.com to educate other mothers about the importance of car seats. Further, along the way, the blog became an invaluable source for research of a variety of car seat brands, unique features, and mommies reviews.

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