How to Properly Install a Child Car Seat - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

How to Properly Install a Child Car Seat


Many child car seats are not properly installed in vehicles. If properly installed, child car seats help keep your child in place and protect them from injury during an accident. Car seats can make traveling so much safer.  

There are four stages of child car seat and seat belt use for children. Those four stages are based on the age, height, and weight of your child. To ensure that your child car seat meets all restrictions you should check with your provincial or territorial regulations.

Stage 1: Rear-facing seats

Stage one is the rear-facing seat and is used for young babies that have large heads and weak necks. These babies need extra support for their weak muscles while riding in a car. The properly fitted rear-facing seat will protect your baby in the event of a crash or sudden stop. You should keep your baby in a rear-facing seat as long as they can fit the height and weight requirements of the seat.

Stage 2: Forward-facing seats

The next stage is forward-facing seats that are used for older children who have developed stronger back and neck muscles. Your child should stay in a forward-facing child car seat until they grow out of it based on height and weight requirements of the manufacturer. A forward-facing seat will spread the force of an accident over the strongest portions of your child’s body offering them more protection from impact.

Stages 3: Booster seats

Stage three child restraints are booster seats and position the child so the seat belt can sit properly across the lap and shoulder of the child. Don’t be in a hurry to move your child to a booster seat. The longer they can stay in a forward-facing seat, based on manufacturers instructions, the better.

Stage 4: Seat belts

The final stage is moving your child to a regular car seat and using the manufacturer’s seat belt.

Procedures to follow for correct installation

To be sure that your child’s car seat is installed properly there are several steps to take. Install seats away from airbags, make sure it is in the proper position, and use the weight of your body to tighten and fasten the seat belt straps. The seat should be tightened enough that it will move no more than 2.5 cm in any direction. If a tether is provided, secure it tightly as per manufacturer instructions. If needed, use a locking clip to secure the seat belt into place. Lastly, make sure the harness, if applicable, is properly adjusted to fit your child. Make sure that no objects, such as toys, trays, or mirrors are directly attached to your child’s car seat.

To fit a harness properly, make sure the straps are not twisted or folded over. Adjust the chest clip to lie flat against your child’s chest at roughly armpit height. Harness straps should be snug, but not so tight as to cut into your child’s skin. One finger should fit between your child and the harness strap. Check frequently to be sure the straps haven’t loosened over time.

If you are having problems adjusting and installing your child’s car seat, or are uncertain if you have done it properly, consider attending a car seat clinic. These educational sessions help you properly position your car seat and install it correctly, as well as determine what seat is best for your child.

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