Installing a car seat for the first time

Car seats can be expensive when they include extra safety-features, and parents can sometimes become too reassured by the fact they paid more and forget about the first rule of driving with children: properly installing the car seat. A car seat that’s not well fitted will not only fail to do its job, but also may end up being the main cause of injury. As statistics show us, this is the first reason for child injuries and death in car accidents.

The first step in installing the seat is deciding its position. The best place to put a car seat is in the back, on the middle seat. If that’s not possible, place it on the left side. The car seat’s place will also depend on the existence and position of airbags in the car: rear-facing seats should never be placed on a car seat that has a front airbag. If the airbags are placed on the sides, the car seat needs to be outside of the airbag range, or as far away from the door as possible.

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After you’ve found the best place to place it, identify the LATCH anchorage points in the car and the connectors of the seat. They should be very easy to connect as they were specially designed for ease of use. You should remember that there is also a top tether that needs to be attached either to the anchor at the back of the passenger seat in forward-facing position, or to the anchor of the front seat, in case of a rear-facing car seat. A foot prop is sometimes available. If you’re not sure you’re doing a good job, check the user’s manual for the chair, and take a minute to verify again the compatibility list to make sure your car seat matches the car’s system.

Infant car seats are going to have a detachable base that has to be installed in the car, from which the seat can be snapped out and in, with just little effort. On convertible car seats and all-in-ones, the process might be a little more difficult the first time, but since they’re not really portable, you will probably go through it just a few times.

Whether you’re installing the seat on a daily basis, or you’re leaving it in the car for long periods of time, the only way to know your child has all the conditions for safety is that you verify it’s state before every car ride.