Whoever thought it is easy to install an infant car seat, think again. You might think that the instruction manual will provide step-by-step instructions which are easy to follow. Practically speaking, there are several factors that you need to consider while installing the seat. Research has shown time and again, that every three seats out of five are improperly installed. The research is indeed alarming and if you ,as a parent, are concerned about the seat safety, then do read this guide.
Car seats for infants have to always be rear facing; in fact it is recommended that you should keep the infant in a rear facing seat for as long as possible. What this means is that when the child reaches the maximum limits of weight and height restrictions for rear facing seats, till then it should be placed in the rear facing seat. Also the middle part of the backseat of your car is the ideal and the safest for your child's seat. Once the child crosses the limits of rear facing seat, then he/she can sit facing forward. In spite of this, the middle part of the vehicles rear seat is the best place for the child as far as safety is concerned.
You also need to consider both the manuals :the one provided by the car seat manufacturer as well as that of the auto maker. In fact, if you do not have the manuals, you can also call the toll free numbers that most car seats have printed on them. A simple search on the internet is also useful in giving these numbers.
Most cars manufactured post 2002, have the LATCH system for seat safety. This stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. This system makes the car seats safer, because by using it the seat is permanently attached to the vehicle instead of using unsafe belts to attach the seats to the vehicle. Many auto dealers also help install the LATCH system, in case your car does not have one, so try contacting your car dealer for the same.
For forward facing child car seats, the seat should be fixed flat against the bottom and the rear of the vehicles seat. There is an angle of recline that is recommended for both front and rear facing seats and this is mentioned in the manuals. You can push the seat with your hand or knees and use your weight to remove the gap, if any, left under the seat.
The belts should be threaded correctly through the slots in lieu of the LATCH system. The belt should not slack and should be pulled as tightly as possible. In fact, the recommended instructions are that the seat should not be able to move more than an inch in either direction: forward, backward and sideways.
You can even use locking clips to ensure that the seat belts are held in place firmly. These locking clips are available in most children's stores. Once the entire installation is over, do make sure that the seat is secure and resists motion in all directions. If it does, then you may need to reinstall the car seat.
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