Car Seat Safety: A few tips from a certified car seat technician

I first learned about car seat safety when my son was 3 months old. The week I returned to work from maternity leave I took an intense week long course about car seats. At first I was annoyed, I thought….”how much is there to learn about car seats. You just buckle your kid in and they are fine!” I was WRONG! There is so much about car seat safety that NO ONE TALKS ABOUT!

I hope this post makes you evaluate how your carseat is installed and how it is used.

What does being a certified car seat technician mean? Well, I took a really long and extensive class about child passenger safety. I went through several simulations and installations, passed a written exam, and participated in a car seat check event. I follow the code of conduct of technicians and also earn CEUs that allow me to stay current on car seat installation. I also have extra resources and books that allow me to assist with installing a variety of child passenger seats. I will leave a link at the end of the post if you want to learn more about Safe Kids Worldwide.

With so many different car seats on the market, it can be hard to know which one is the best for your child, lifestyle, car, and usage. There are 3 main types. I will briefly overview the different kinds of car seats.

Infant car seats are usually pretty simply to install and you can purchase multiple bases allowing you to easily click your car seat in and go. These are seats are usually compatible with a stroller system, and can be lugged around when your baby is little. Babies usually out grow infant seats between 9-12 months of life. Although they do not last for a long time, infant car seats are safe and convenient .

Once your child out grows the infant car seat, a great investment is a convertible car seat . These car seats provide the longest amount of usage and the most versatility. Many car seat companies are making “forever” car seats, meaning they can convert from being rear facing to forward facing and then into a booster seat. They are “Forever” because they last the entire span of your child’s time in a child passenger seat.

Booster seats come in back support and backless forms. They are for older children whose legs do not yet reach the floor when sitting in the car. Some children also do not meet the age, height, and weight restrictions to sit in the back seat of a car safely without a booster seat. Booster seats also ensure that the seat belt rests comfortably and appropriately across the chest.

Regardless of the kind of car seat you have these basic tips will apply.

6 Car Seat Tips

TIP #1: Read the manual that comes with your car seat.

I know that as millennials we are not the best at reading manuals and following instructions step-by-step. But hear me out, every car seat has a different installation process. It is not always as easy at it looks. Read up on how your specific car seat should be installed. YouTube, the manufacturer’s website, and stores like BuyBuyBaby are also great resources.

TIP #2: Read the manual for the car to find out the best place to install a car seat.

Every car is different. Some cars have features that can actually interfere with the function of your car seat (like curtain airbags). If you no longer have your car manual you can easily find it online. The car seat manufacturer does not know what kind of car you own. The instructions they provide are generic for basic installation. This is why it is important to read the owners manual for your car.

TIP #3: Pay attention to where you install you car seat.

If you have a new-ish car then you probably have buttons or symbols with a picture of a car seat somewhere in your back seat. The LATCH system allows you to tether and anchor your child’s car seat safely. Once again, your car will have specific places where you can use the LATCH system. Using the system is fairly easy and some parents like to use this system over anchoring the base of convertible car seat with a seat belt. If you do not see these symbols you most likely do not have a LATCH system in your car and need to use a seat belt to install your car seat.

BONUS: YOU SHOULD NOT USE THE LATCH SYSTEM AND THE SEAT BELT TO INSTALL YOUR CAR SEAT. Why? Because manufacturer’s safety test their products using each system separately. There is no way to know if the systems would prevent each other from working effectively!!!!

TIP #4: Check the manufactured date and expiration date.

Yes, car seats expire…who knew! Most are good for 5 years! If a car seat has been in a car accident, has damage, severe wear and tear, or is given to you without you knowing the history of the car seat then it is not safe to be used.

Tip #5: Register the car seat.

If your car seat is new it should come with a postcard that can be filled out and mailed to the manufacturer. This will register the car seat allowing you to be notified if there is ever a recall.

TIP #6: Inspection and installation help

Check with your local hospital, pediatricians office, fire station, police station, or highway patrol. Many of these places offer car seat inspections for free by certified technicians such as myself. Not only will you have peace of mind that your car seat is as safe as possible for your baby, you will have new knowledge on how to install your car seat properly. Follow this link to find a tech in your area

Well there you have it. Six quick tips on car seat safety. In the near future I will also post about car seat safety during the warm summer months that we have headed our way!

I hope this was helpful please comment below and let us know!!! As always thank you for reading, please like, share, and comment!

If you want to learn more about the National Child Passenger Safety Certification please click here


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