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How to Install an Infant Car Seat Properly

How to Install an Infant Car Seat ProperlyBabies are a joy. Baby car seats are not so much. Luckily, with concentration and a little effort, you can get an infant car seat installed correctly. But how important is it to get the car seat in correctly? Extremely. Most infant car seats come with four or five point safety harnesses, which keep the baby held tightly to the seat. However, if the seat is not well anchored to the vehicle it is traveling in, those harnesses don’t do much good in an accident or very sudden stop.

The first thing to do to install a car seat correctly is to find the manufacturer-installed anchors. That’s right: most modern vehicles come with these things. They basically look like iron half-rings and they are firmly connected to the frame of the car. For sedans, look next to and under the back seat. For SUVs and mini-vans, look on the back of the seats in the area where the back and bottom cushions meet. Next, you probably saw the clips at the ends of the straps on your infant car seat. These clips will hook onto the anchors you just found.

Let’s talk specifics now. Most of the modern models for infants from 0-6 months old come with a base that you install in the car. Then you can easily place and remove the car seat in the car. Since most hospitals today are requiring that parents of newborns prove that they have and can use good car seats, let’s stick to this style of seat.

So take the car seat off of the base and set it aside. Now you have a base with several straps and usually a mechanism to raise or lower the seat a little. Most families like to use an old, clean towel or some other protector for the seat you are installing the infant seat on. If you want to do this, make sure it is spread out flat and smooth.

Now put your car seat base in its spot, making sure to orient it so that the car seat will face toward the rear of the car. Put the car seat in its base and adjust the height and slant of the base so that the seat is in the proper position. Then take the seat back out, leaving the base. Finally, take the straps and adjust them so you have plenty of length to work with and they are laying flat.

Take the clips and hook them to the anchors. You need to make sure the straps stay flat as you do this. For SUVs and mini-vans, you will usually need to push the clips through the space between the back and bottom cushions to get at the anchors.

With the car seat’s clips hooked to the car anchors, you are ready to tighten. Climb into the car and set your knee firmly in the car seat or base, pushing down hard. Now pull those straps as tight as you can.

Finally, push and pull on the infant car seat and base. It shouldn’t move more than a half inch or so. If the infant car seat is tightly in place, congratulations! You only have to adjust the harness straps on the seat itself and you are ready to cruise with your baby.

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All the Best, Harry Bui

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