Important- Note that this is a general checklist that should be used in collaboration with your vehicle’s instruction booklet and your baby car seat manual guide. Make sure you reference those manuals during the cause of installing or maintaining your child’s car seat; and while you are reading this guide too!
One of the most crucial things you would do to maximize your baby’s safety is installing a car seat correctly. Before trying to install the car seat, you have to make sure you know how install the car seat correctly (which is why you are reading this). You can read the vehicle’s and car seat manuals thoroughly to get a feel for what’s expected from you.
When you are planning to move from an infant car seat to a convertible car seat, you will want to install it as a rear facing car seat to begin with. It is therefore very important that you learn how to install the car seat properly and check it every time you want to use it so as to make sure it is still in a proper position.
Why it is Important to Install Your Car Seat Correctly
Studies have shown that as much as 4 out of 5 car seat installation is done incorrectly. And one of the mistakes that most parents make is selecting the wrong car seat and installing it improperly. This is common with convertible car seats because they can be installed in different configurations and position.
The improper installation of car seats (especially convertible car seats) is one of the leading cause of deaths and serious injury to infants during a crash. This is true and its a fact that improperly installed car seats pose danger to the life of your child in a number of occasion.
An incorrectly installed car seat doesn’t fully hold the child and might expose the child to greater danger in the event of a crash or sudden stop.
The first step to securing your child against dangers of collision is choosing the right car seat, installing it correctly and securing it properly. Doing this will enable the car seat do its job which is to protect your child.
How Install Convertible Car Seat Correctly
Convertible car seat means that you can use the car seat both as a rear-facing car seat and front-facing car seat. And it is different from infant and booster car seats respectively.
Some newer models of convertible car seats can be used as booster seats as well. When your child out grows an infant car seat, the next transition should be a rear facing convertible car seat.
Steps to Install Your Convertible Car Seat as Rear-facing
- When installing your child’s car seat as rear facing, you need to consider a secured angle where the car seat will be balance. When you install this car seat in a proper and secure angle, it will not only protect the child from head injury during a collision, it will also reduce the chance of body injury in a crash. This angle is the safest and most comfortable position for your child
- To install the seat properly, make sure the seat is at 35 to 40 degree and a little reclining. The safest place to install your child’s car seat is in the back seat. The centre is recommended because it is where the car seat can be secured tightly. Select the corresponding seatbelt to secure the car seat
- Then turn the car seat to face the rear of the back seat
- You can now select which method to use. The size and weight of your child and the width of your vehicle will determine the method to use. You can select lap belt only, lap and shoulder belt, and LATCH which is Lower Anchor Tethers for Children.
- In order to use tether a rear-facing car seat, make sure it is confirmed in your car seat manufacturer’s manual. This is because most rear-facing car seats are not suppose to be used with a tether system. (Check your car seat instruction manual for detailed information on this)
Important information- check your car seat instruction manual on how to use your convertible car seat in lap belt only or lap and shoulder belt or whether to be used with tether. You should also check your vehicle’s instruction manual on which method should be used with your vehicle.
- On the base of a convertible car seat, you will be able to locate dedicated holes on either side. Insert the seat belts through the holes and connect the buckles. An audible “click” will indicate that the buckle is correctly hooked into the holes and corresponding angles
- In order to make sure the convertible car seat is secure and tightly fitted, you have to tighten the seat belt. So that it can hold the car seat tightly. The seat should be pulled tight so that there is no retract in any direction
- Also check your vehicle manufacturer’s manual to know whether to use a clip top to secure the car seat. If the seat belt is not tight enough, you may consider using a clip to hold it tightly. The clips usually come with the car seat, if not, you will need to purchase them
- Once you have secured the car seat in place, try shaking or tilting it forward, and other directions as well. It shouldn’t move more than an inch! When it does, it means it is not secured properly
Steps to Install Your Convertible Car Seat as Forward Facing
Important- only use convertible car seat if your child is over 1 year and 20 pounds or higher.
Most times, you will know when a child get to the time when it can ride in forward facing. Though most laws require your child to be 1 year and 20 pounds before using forward car seat. However, recent guideline from the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) stated that a child should be 2 years of age or at least exceed the weight and height limit of rear facing before using a forward facing convertible car seat.
- The longer a child stay in a rear facing car seat, the safer. A forward facing car seat is safest in the centre of the back seat, however either side of the back seat can be used. Though they are less safer
- Do not use automatic shoulder belt to secure the convertible car seat. Any slight movement from the belt could pose a danger to your child’s life
- Another important thing to consider is a LATCH system. The tether system will have an anchor that can be attached to the corresponding anchors at the rear of the carseat. Anchors are required by law to be in any car manufactured after 2002. Attached all the hooks using the straps and seat belt to the car seat to secure it and prevent it moving while you are driving
Steps to Install Your Convertible Car Seat as Booster
- You can use a booster seat for your child when it has outgrown the limitations of the forward facing convertible car seat. It is should only be used if your child can sit upright but not big enough to be properly restrained with a seat belt
- This usually does not come with a harness system since it is only made to raise the child to be properly restrained by the vehicles seat belt. Most states now have laws that mandate a child to reach a certain age, weight and height limit before using a booster seat
- When you are ready to transition from a forward facing car seat to a booster, the harness system needs to be removed from the base of the convertible car seat. You can do this by releasing the connectors that attaches the harness to the car seat
- A booster seat can be made secure by lifting it and moving it upright against the vehicles car seat. It should be installed in a way that will make the your toddler to sit fully upright
- You can also use the LATCH (Lower Anchor Tether for Children) to attach the car seat to the vehicles car seat after putting your child in there. Using the anchors which can be found in the rear of the vehicle
To learn more about convertible car seats, click here