For expectant parents, their to-do list becomes a super big to-do list. Many items qualify to be at the top of the list, not the least of which is installing a car seat. After all, it’s the one essential thing you must do in order to bring your baby home.

car seat safety tips

Installation Matters More Than Price

When it comes to keeping your baby safe in a vehicle, proper installation matters much more than the price of the car seat. According to Transport Canada, a correctly installed car seat lowers the risk of fatality by 71 percent and serious injury by 67 percent.

There are many different types of car seats, so be sure to shop around. And don’t shop by price alone. An expensive car seat doesn’t mean it’s safer if it’s not installed correctly. A good starting point is, which provides information to help you decide which car seat to choose based on your lifestyle, car seat usage, features and accessories.

Steps to Take Before Installing a Car Seat

LATCH system

Once you’ve purchased a car seat, reserve some time to perform these five pre-installation steps to ensure you are well-informed on child passenger safety.

  1. Get out your vehicle’s manual and the car seat’s instructions.
  2. Thoroughly read the seat’s instructions, referring to your vehicle’s manual to gain an understanding of how the seat will work with your vehicle’s seat belts or LATCH system.
  3. Check to see where the lower anchors attach on the car seat, keeping in mind that not all car seats have them.
  4. Determine where the car seat fits best in the back seat. Count the number of lower anchor attachments along the back seat. If you have six across the back, you can use the lower anchors and place the car seat in the middle of the back seat. This is the safest place for the car seat. If you only have four lower anchor attachments, it is not safe to share them from the left and right passenger sides. If the middle back seat isn’t feasible, then the second best option is behind the passenger.
  5. Consider everyone who will be riding in the vehicle; at no time can the front seats, when adjusted all the way back for comfort, touch the car seat.

How to Properly Install a Car Seat

Most parents install car seats themselves, however, if you’re not comfortable doing so, Transport Canada offers car seat clinics where a trained child car seat technician will demonstrate how to correctly install a car seat.

If installing the car seat on your own, here are some helpful tips:

  • Pay close attention to the harness and buckle, making sure they are in the right places.
  • Adjust the foot of the car seat and place it on the vehicle’s seat so the base is level.
  • Tighten the car seat by tapping it toward the back of the vehicle’s seat while pulling out slack in the LATCH straps or seat belts. Use a locking clip if necessary to get a tighter fit. If there’s a lot of bounce in the car seat, keep tightening it until it no longer moves more than an inch in any direction. Never place your knee on the car seat to get it tight, you could crack the seat or its base.
  • If attaching the car seat using the vehicle’s seat belts, remember to lock the belts once the car seat is in place.
  • Adjust the car seat to a 45-degree recline angle.
  • If you will be removing the car seat for use in another vehicle, remember that installation varies from vehicle to vehicle, so be sure to reference the other vehicle’s manual.

With your car seat securely in place, your baby is ready to ride safely in your vehicle. And, you get to cross off a few items from your super big to-do list!


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