Installing Basic Tip #1
Installing a car seat is easier than you think, just take your time, and read the vehicle and car seat owner’s manuals. If you are having trouble installing your car seat on your own, our experts can help. Safe Kids coalitions host thousands of car seat checkup events around the country. Find an event here, or if there isn’t one near you, look here for a certified child passenger safety technician (CPST).
Installing Basic Tip #2
The Best Position in the Car
A back seat is the safest place to ride for all children under age 13. Not all cars allow for a car seat in every place there’s a seat belt. You’ll have to check the car’s owner’s manual to see the possible options in the car. The needs of all other passengers, including other children riding in a car seat or booster seat, should be taken into consideration to make sure everyone in the car stays safe.
Installing Basic Tip #3
Seat Belt or LATCH
There are two ways to install a car seat in a vehicle.
- One option is to use the vehicle seat belt. Place it through the car seat at the belt path. Look for the arrows or directions on a label that show you the correct belt path to use. On forward-facing car seats, remember to use a top tether when installing with a seat belt.
- The second option is to use lower anchors and tethers for children (LATCH) to attach the car seat to the vehicle. The car seat comes with lower attachments that connect to the car’s lower anchors. It also comes with a top tether you will need if you are using a forward-facing car seat.
Either seat belt or LATCH is safe, but don’t use both at the same time. Pick the one that gives you a snug fit. (See the next tip to show you how to make it snug.)
Installing Basic Tip #4
Take the Inch Test
Do you have a snug fit? Take the Inch Test to find out. A properly-installed car seat shouldn’t move more than one inch front-to-back or side-to-side when pulled at the belt path. This rule applies whether you are using a forward-facing car seat or a rear-facing car seat; and whether you installed it using the seat belt or LATCH.
Installing Basic Tip #5
There are weight limitations to using LATCH. Read your car seat label to know when your child is too big to use LATCH. At that point, you simply need to install the car seat using the seat belt and top tether.