18 Car Seat Mistakes to Avoid

1. Buying a used car seat without doing your research. Unless you are able to do serious research on a car seat. DO NOT buy it. The seat could be recalled, been in an accident or have other problems that you might not know about until it is too late. It is always best to purchase a new car seat for your child.

2. Putting your child’s car seat in the wrong spot. Your child’s car seat should always be placed in the back seat. It should never be placed in the front seat. If your childs seat was to be in front of airbag when it delpoyed, that would cause serious injury. The safest place for your child is the middle of the back seat if possible.

3. Putting your child’s infant car seat in the forward facing position. Infant only car seats should NEVER be placed forward facing. They are for rear facing only.

4. Letting your baby sleep in his/her car seat like a crib. You should never let your baby sleep in their car seat longer than necessary. In 2009 there was a study that showed that sitting upright in a car seat can compress a babys chest and lead to lower oxygen levels.

5. Incorrectly installing your car seat. You shouldn’t be able to move the seat more than an inch to the left, right or forward. If you can then the seat isn’t tight enough. To make sure your seat is as tight as can be you can place your knee in the seat and put all your weight into it while tightening the seatbelt. You should also always lock the seatbelt once you get it buckled in. You could always find someone in your town that does car seats installations and then you will know for sure it is safe!

6. Reclining your childs car seat at the wrong angle. If your rear facing seat leans too far forward, your babys head could fall forward cutting off their airway. Most car seats these days come with a level so that you can tell if your seat is in the correct position. But, if it doesnt then you can fold over a square piece of paper and form a triangle. Place the longest part of the triangle against the back of the car seat where your childs back rests. Eyeball the upper edge of the triangle. If it is basically parallel to the ground then you are okay. But if it is tilted either direction then you need to do some adjusting. 

7. Incorrectly buckling your child in his/her car seat. The chest clip is called a chest slip for a reason! It should be at armpit level resting across your child’s breastbone. NOT sitting any lower. It is there to make sure the straps stay in place. If the chest clip is down too low then the straps can easily slip off and your child can be ejected from his/her seat. You should also make sure that the harness straps are in the correct slot for your child’s height. The straps should be at or below the shoulders when rear facing. At or above the shoulders when forward facing. Make sure that the harness straps are tight as well. Using your thumb and index finger, pinch the strap near your child’s collarbone. If you can pinch any of the webbing, then the straps aren’t tight enough.

harness safety{Image Source- Pinterest}

8. Moving your child to a forward facing car seat too soon. It is recommended that you rear face until at least age 2. If you choose not to rear face that long then your child should be 1 year old AND weigh 20lbs before being turned forward. A lot of people think that once their child hits 20lbs they can be forward facing. THIS IS NOT TRUE! The bones that protect your babys spine are still forming. So even if they weigh 20lbs when they are 6 months old. Their bones are still those of a 6 month old. Keep your child rear facing as long as possible as it is the safest!

This is a great video to watch on why rear facing is SO important!

9. Keeping your child’s coat or other bulky clothes on them in their car seat. Always make sure to take coats or other bulky clothing off before strapping your child in to their seat. By leaving on the bulky coats/clothes it will create too much space in between your childs body and the harness. Even if you were to tighten it with the coat on, if you were to be in an accident that force would compress the coat, causing space and it would put your child at risk of being hurt worse in an accident. This applys to kids in booster seats as well.

car8{Image Source thecrunchymama}

10. Moving your child to a booster seat before they are ready. Your child shouldn’t be moved to a booster seat until the car seatbelt fits them properly. Your child should be at least 4 years old and weigh 40lbs or more. The lap belt should lay flat on top of their thighs. It should NOT go across their stomach.

11. Using both the seat belt & latch system together. You should only use either the seat belt alone or the latch system. NEVER use them both together. Each system is tested seperately so there is no way to know how well the car seat would hold up during an accident if both are used. It is recommended that you use the latch system if possible as it holds the car seat in tighter than a seatbelt does. You shouldn’t be able to move your seat more than 1 inch to each side or forward. If you can then IT IS NOT TIGHT ENOUGH!

12. Not registering your child’s car seat. By not registering your child’s car seat you could be missing on on recalls. Make sure you register so that you are ALWAYS up to date on recalls!

13. Not using the tether. You should ALWAYS tether forward facing car seats. By attaching the tether to an anchor in the back of your vehicle, this will decrease how much your childs head will move in an accident by 6-8 inches! The less your child head moves, the less likely it is to hit something in your vehicle during a crash.


14. Not using your child’s car seat consistently. “But we are just going right up the road” Did you know that most accidents happen within a few miles of your home? Your child should ALWAYS be secured in their car seat no matter how far you are going!

15. Using an expired car seat. Make sure that you always check the expiration date. Especially if you are buying a used car seat. Most car seats expire after 6 years from the manufactured date! If you can’t find an expiration date printed on your car seat, check your manual or call the manufacturer!

16. Using the car seatbelt too early. It is VERY important that you don’t skip the booster seat and move your child straight to using a seat belt alone. It can be very dangerous if your child is still too little for the car safety belt. If the seatbelt goes across your childs belly and neck incorrectly it can cause serious injuries in an accident. Your child has to be at least 8 years old AND 4ft 9in before they can be without a booster seat.

17. Placing your child’s car seat on the front of a shopping cart. Your car seat is made to snap onto a base and a stroller. Even though it may ‘snap’ into place on a cart it is not safe and not recommended! Placing your seat on top of the cart can make it top heavy which could cause it to easily tip over. Please place your childs seat in the basket of the shopping cart.

18. Using after market products in your car seat. This includes strap covers, head supports, etc shouldn’t be used. If it didn’t come with the car seat don’t use it. Using after market products actually voids the car seat warranty. Even if you think your baby looks uncomfortable I promise they will be ok. After all, they were crammed in your belly for 9 months!  If you’re worried about your babys floppy head you can roll up two receiving blankets and place on either side of your babys head. This doesn’t compromise the tightness or safety of the straps so it is safe.

If you have any other tips, please leave them in the comments! 

Southern Carolina Family