Is your car seat installed correctly?

Step forward if you think your child’s car seat is installed correctly.

Not so fast hot stuff!

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 75 percent of parents are installing the seats incorrectly.

This week, Sept. 19 to 25, is National Child Passenger Safety Week, an annual NHTSA-driven initiative to “bring public attention to the importance of properly securing all children in appropriate child safety seats, booster seats or seat belts – every trip, every time.”

Michael said he’s not surprised at all that 75 percent of families have incorrectly installed seats. He said he would have half-a@@@ it for the last nine years if he didn’t know that I was going to come up behind him pulling and tugging and making sure the seat had no give.

I have gotten very good at installing my kids’ seats in my minivan but it is harder with seats you don’t know and a car you don’t know. My mechanical engineer father had installed a seat in my mother’s car this summer that was just really wrong. It was sliding inches back and forth horizontally and was propped up on towels because it didn’t mesh well with the profile of her backseat.

We switched to a different car seat and it fit much better. But I worked really hard to get that seat in tightly.

There is actually a web site to help parents find seats that are easy to install. This government site offers a matrix rating seat evaluating labels, instructions, installation feature and overall ease of use.

I never knew there was a site that rated ease of use before — that seems actually useful.

This weekend is National Seat Check Saturday and you can find places to double check that your seat is installed correctly on this site.

Do you think your seats are installed correctly? Who is better at installing the seats — you or your husband? Do you think the LATCH system actually makes it easier to install a seat? (I can’t get ours tight enough with the Latch system. I feel like I can get it tighter with the seat belt.) Do you think people rely too much on the overhead anchor to keep the seat from flying out and don’t try as hard to make it tight because they know it is there? Will you have you seat double checked this weekend?

54 comments Add your comment

[...] Is your car seat installed correctly?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)My mechanical engineer father had installed a seat in my mother's car this summer that was just really wrong. It was sliding inches back and forth …and more » [...]

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Jeff

September 22nd, 2010
7:29 am

I’m not sure whether the father or mother is better. It’s been my experience that the mom makes the schedule that moves the seats from car to car, but the dad ends up moving the car seat because the strap requires some pulling. Sounds a bit sexists, I know, but that’s been my experience.

I think we go too far for the “protection of the children” than necessary because accidents ARE going to happen. We survived without bicycle helmets, car seats or even seat belts. Yet I was able to go on and go to college, run a marathon, and live a normal life.

Ah...

September 22nd, 2010
7:31 am

…Yes, me, no, no, and no.

new mom

September 22nd, 2010
8:07 am

I get annoyed when I read this–not at Theresa, but when ‘they’ tell us that most of ‘us’ are wrong….

About a year ago, just before our second was born (seriously, she was already 5 days late) I started doubting my hubby’s installation of the infant seat in our car. It wasn’t the same car we had it in with our first, and it didn’t seem as secure. One day I tried to find someone who would ‘inspect’ it for us. I went to a fire station where they told me that they didn’t do them anymore, then I called EVERYONE on a list they gave me. Of the calls I made, I got ZERO help…no one would inspect them, and no one even knew anyone who would. Now I’m the last person who wants anything from the government, but if we are going to get lectured about this, you would think it would be easier to find somewhere to get it checked. Well, in the end, we convinced ourselves that the seat was fine, just fit differently due to the shape of the backseat. It wasn’t going anywhere, and perhaps I was a bit hormonal!

Photius

September 22nd, 2010
8:08 am

Check with your local Police who will be happy to perform a seat check for free if you drive up to the Police station. Many people think they have the seat installed properly but don’t. Have the cops check it out; why gamble.

Ania

September 22nd, 2010
8:10 am

I think as a mom I would do a better job, only because I dont like bossing my husband around and telling him what to do. I read the instructions, and installed the seats myself. One in each car, so that there is no moving seats back and forth (and no worries about it being loose or too tight) and I also agree with Jeff. Yes we need to protect our children, and yes our generation made it without all the gadgets. I think we need to focus our time more on bullies, the amount of tv children watch and what they watch and take them off the video games, as well as obesity. Its sad how every single parenting advice I read includes giving a toddler a snack. How many snacks do kids need? Maybe instead of cookies, hand them a book!
Enough rambling, if you cant take 10 minutes out of your day to read instructions and install a car seat, why not go to the Fire Station, where the nice gentlemen could help you out.

Older kids in car seats?

September 22nd, 2010
8:25 am

Official guidelines say that kids need to use booster seats until 80 lbs. Show me a 10-year-old who is willing to sit in one of those, especially in front of his friends (4th or 5th grade). I bet the “protect the children” crowd will chill out by that point…

motherjanegoose

September 22nd, 2010
8:27 am

TODAY becky ( lower case b…who visited with us and complained ) needs to be here. She is having her first grandchild and would likely need to know this. Maybe she will appreciate THIS topic to be of value on this blog.

I HAVE NO IDEA, as I have not strapped a child into a car seat for years. Some here will be thrilled that I do not have opinions (on car seats) to share today…:0 Have a great day all.

mom2alex&max

September 22nd, 2010
8:29 am

Old kids: I am having the same issue. My 10 year old has still not topped out the 80lbs and he refuses to use a booster. And honestly he looks ridiculous. And now, commence the blasting about how I am supposedly the adult and I should just tell him what’s what.

Lori

September 22nd, 2010
8:33 am

When my son was little, I went to the Fire Station during a child seat check up and had them show me how to properly install the seat in my car. They were very good at educating me on how it should be.

Bunch of Yentas

September 22nd, 2010
8:57 am

My kid is 7 and not even close to 80 pounds. But he hasn’t used the booster for over a year. I suppose that is wrong. But the seatbelt doesn’t fit across his neck, so I figured it was OK.

Is it?

TechMom

September 22nd, 2010
9:03 am

I don’t understand why people won’t read the instructions that come with car seats but my question is- what do they mean when they say “75% of car seats aren’t installed properly?” Does that meant they move more than 1/4″ when pushed on? Or that people aren’t putting the belt in the right place? Or does that count all people who have a latch system in their car but fail to use it?

Becky

September 22nd, 2010
9:23 am

Like Bunch of Yentas, my 2 aren’t in booster seats anymore..We never moved the seats from one car to another, we had two seats in both cars..We did the moving for about a month and I told my husband that was enough for me..

As for which one installs the seats better, I guess it just depends on the person..No, I never had ours checked and we;ve never had a vehicle that had overhead anchors..

If the correct weight is 80 lbs and 49 inches tall, I have an older sister that should still be in a booster seat..I’m with Jeff, I think we go way to far to protect our children in some aspects of life..

A

September 22nd, 2010
9:51 am

Back in the day (just 8 years ago!), you could take your car and seat up to a fire station and they would do the whole installation for you. We did that with both cars for infant car seat bases and then for the forward-facing infant/toddler seat later on. It’s a shame if they don’t offer this service anymore and if it’s impossible to find anyone to assist, as another poster pointed out above. Thankfully we moved on to boosters a few years ago, but even those have come under scrutiny recently.

JOD

September 22nd, 2010
9:55 am

I’m definitely the car seat nazi at our house. My husband always leaves it too loose when transferring from one car to the other. I actually get in the seat to tighten it down, so that puppy isn’t going anywhere – not even a 1/4″ :o) (That is what the manual tells you to do, in case anyone wonders why I get in the car seat) I suspect that women may do a better job with car seats because we do read the manuals while men ‘just figure it out’ – that’s my experience anyway.

@TWG – My husband’s car has LATCH and my SUV doesn’t. I agree with you and prefer the seat belt myself. LATCH seems like it should adjust on each side separately, but it really doesn’t. I like that it attached directly into the frame behind the backseat, but it is a real pain to adjust well enough.

JOD

September 22nd, 2010
9:56 am

Another thought – moms may take more time with the car seat because (for many of us) the kids spend way more time in the car with us than dads. That’s the truth at our house, so don’t fuss at me for generalizing :o)

LM

September 22nd, 2010
10:06 am

It has been years since we used a car seat so I don’t know about how they are now. But back in the day we had a “renolux” it swivled so it was easier to put our daughter in the seat. We had two, one for each car, so we didn’t have to move it around. My in-laws had a carseat for when the baby sat, it was an older model they had used with an older grandchild.

I looked up the carseat we had and it is not on the list, seems it is no longer sold in the US, must not have met the saftey requirements, but I loved that car seat.

When my daughter was two we were in a accident. Even though there was no visable damage to the car seat, I made the insurance company replace the carseat, it was in a accident and therefore could have suffered stress. The insurance company fought me, but in the end they complied.

What I don’t get is even in the day and age of techonology, people still let their kids bounce around in the car, ride with kids in their laps, don’t have kids in a seat belt or car seat. What is the thought process?

Van Jones

September 22nd, 2010
10:08 am

The check is too easy not to do yourself. Standing outside the car grag the top of the car seat with one hand and the bottom of the car seat with the other hand. Now, using a good bit of force try to shake the car seat. If it moves back and forth it’s loose, get out the instructions and tighten it up. Usually, getting in the car and putting your knee in the car seat (with all your weight) while you pull up on the straps will easily do the trick.

Van Jones

September 22nd, 2010
10:10 am

And just bite the bullet and spring for a basic car seat for the car the kids don’t ride in very often. Switching the seat from car to car is for the birds!

Jessica

September 22nd, 2010
10:15 am

I do not have children yet, but I do feel that I know how to properly install a carseat. I have three nieces and have my own carseats for them. When I put the carseat in the car it won’t budge at all. I find that using the latch system works best, and is the easiest to use. I have had people tell me that you are supposed to use both the seatbelt and the latch system. I know from reading the instructions that come with the carseat you are supposed to use one or the other, never use both. I would consider myself to be a carseat “nazi”, as I would hate to have my nieces in my car and get hurt due to the seat not being properly installed.

HB

September 22nd, 2010
10:26 am

It’s always funny to me when people say, “We didn’t have seatbelts and carseats, and we came through fine.” Ummm, “we” didn’t all come through fine, and those who didn’t aren’t here to post about it.

Kate

September 22nd, 2010
10:31 am

Although I am better with them than my husband, I really hate car seats. Don’t get me wrong, I always use them with my kids and I’m really glad they exist, but many of them are not user friendly (not to mention the fact that many cars are simply not car seat compatible) and I’m not surprised to hear that so many of them are not installed correctly.

While I was in the hospital after our daughter was born, my husband decided to install the her new car seat in his car. Since he had never installed a car seat before (I was the one who always handled that chore with our first son), I expressed some concern about whether or not he could handle the task. He just rolled his eyes and acted like I was being ridiculous. I think he actually used the phrase “how hard could it be?” a couple of times. So he shows up at the hospital to pick us up and the first thing I notice from my wheelchair is that the car seat looked a little funny. As soon as we pulled away from the hospital doors, but while we were still in the parking lot, my husband admits that he had “a little trouble” with the seat and that I might want to check it. I managed to waddle myself, very ungracefully, out of the car and into the backseat only to find that the car seat wasn’t latched in at all, only had the seat belt just kind of draped over it! Here I was just two days after having a c-section crammed into the backseat of our car, wrestling with a car seat. I don’t know what my husband was thinking. He’s a really handy guy, but he just plays dumb when it comes to putting together or installing anything child related.

DB

September 22nd, 2010
10:31 am

LONG past child seats — THANK GOD. Moving car seats around was the biggest pain of being a parent! My daughter was always a little Houdini — even with a five-point strap, I’d be driving down the road and she’d quietly wiggle out — and yes, I DID read the directions, and yes, she WAS securely fastened. Scared me to death when she’d suddenly be standing at my elbow in the mini-van with a cheerful giggle!

Before booster seats were popular (and then required) I had those “Kangaroo” booster seats for my kids when they were just out of the car seat — but it was more for them to be able to see out the window than it was for any particular “safety reason.” By 1st grade, they were strapped in like everyone else, in the back seat.

My mother was a conscientious grandmother with the car seat, but she couldn’t help but reflect on the little portable bassinet they used to have in the back of the ‘55 Chevy — simply a little net bassinet that laid on the backseat, that a baby could lay flat in, like a port-a-crib. And they thought they were being responsible by not carrying me!

Yes — I survived. I survived lack of seatbelts, lack of helmets, etc. However, my husband has a bicycle helmet he has saved for 20 years as an object lesson for the kids — it was an old one, with a hard plastic shell and a styrofoam cushion on the inside. The styrofoam is now in about 30 small, crumbling pieces and there’s a crack in the shell where he went down on a railroad track when a rider in front of him fell. Totally not his fault — that’s why they call it an ACCIDENT. But if not for that helmet, his skull would have looked like that shell, and his brains would have been in the same approximate shape as that styrofoam, and I would have been caring for a severely brain-damaged man for the last 20 years, if he had survived. Do our kids wear helmets? You betcha. It annoys the hell out of me when I see kids riding with a helmet that isn’t even fastened — do they think that helmet is glued to their head? Or parents taking their kids for a ride in the neighborhood — kids in a helmet, dad without one — MODEL GOOD BEHAVIOR!!

As far as who put what seat in — whoever put the seat in, the other person would check it. Just standard operating procedure, it sure wasn’t a power struggle. Occasionally, one of us would get distracted (with kids? imagine that . . ) and the other would simply finish off the job.

catlady

September 22nd, 2010
10:38 am

Our health department will do the check for free. If you are low-income, they may give you a car seat also.

100 years ago, when my 34 year old daughter was a baby, a guy backed into us. At that time, the seat manufacturer would pay to have the seat shipped to them and give you a new one so they could test the response of the old one. Not sure if that is the case now or not.

catlady

September 22nd, 2010
10:40 am

My friend, who does the checks at the health department, says 90% of the ones she checks have problems. Perhaps that is just in my poor, rural area.

Kate

September 22nd, 2010
10:46 am

Although I’m better with them than my husband is, I have to admit I HATE car seats! Don’t get me wrong, I always use them with my kids and I’m really glad they exist, but many of them are not user friendly (not to mention many cars are simply not car seat compatible) and I’m not at all surprised to hear that many of them are not installed correctly.

While I was in the hospital after our daughter was born, my husband decided to install her car seat in his car. For some reason, we just never got around to installing it before she was born. Since he had never installed one before (that was always my little chore with our first son), I expressed some concern as to whether or not he could handle the task. He just rolled his eyes and actually used the phrase “how hard could it be?” a couple of times. So he shows up at the hospital to pick us up and the first thing I notice as the nurse wheeled me up to the car was that the car seat looked funny. As we pull away from the hospital doors, but while we were still in the parking lot, my husband admits that he “had a little trouble” with the seat and that I might want to take a look at it. He pulls into a parking space and I waddle, very ungracefully, my way out of the car and into the backseat to find that the baby’s car seat wasn’t latched in at all and only had the seatbelt just kind of draped over it! Here I was 2 days after having a c-section crammed into the backseat of our car wrestling with this car seat. Fortunately, I had plenty of car seat experience by then and was able to get the thing installed safely and we were on our way. I don’t what my husband was thinking. He’s a pretty handy guy until you get him around any child equipment.

JJ

September 22nd, 2010
10:46 am

It amazes me how adults will allow their children to control them.

One of my friends never put her kid in a car seat, because he didn’t like being strapped in and would cry and scream if he was strapped in.

My brother’s ex wife allowed their 3 year old to sit on her lap while driving down to PCB one year. He was driving, she was in the passenger seat with the 3 year old, neither of them had a seatbelt on.

I just don’t get it. I cannot back out of the garage without my seatbelt on.

meagain

September 22nd, 2010
11:00 am

Yes I do think mine are installed correctly. I have latch & can get the seats tighten up better than I ever could with a seat belt. My others are in boosters & are within the height/weight requirements (including no ears over the top) & use a seatbelt that goes across their shoulders & doesn’t get them in the neck.

Christen

September 22nd, 2010
11:13 am

Carseat safety is SO important! You should also mention that the recommendation for Rearfacing a child is now up to 2 years old and 30 pounds. You have to consider that a tiny toddler’s neck is just not ready for the impact from a car accident and rearfacing is indeed the safest thing for your toddlers. There are even cheap carseats for less than $50 you can get at the big box store that allow you to rear face your toddler until they are 40 pounds. Don’t worry about their legs, they can bend. Necks however snap and that is NOT something that is easily recovered from.

motherjanegoose

September 22nd, 2010
11:21 am

Accidents can and do happen. Years ago, I had a Kinder student whose Dad was a Navy fighter pilot. He risked his life for our county Yet, he was killed while riding on his bike in a marathon….hit by a car.

We know folks who are quite irresponsible with their kids. I have been told they leave 3 of them in a hotel room ( all under 10) while they went out for drinks after a kids little league tournament. They try to book a hotel that is close to a bar ( not always on site) , for this reason. Another mother on the team told me this. She was upset. Their daughter also comes home to an empty house several times a week. She is nine.

I have never understood how some folks are SO responsible and awful things happen to them, while others are always flying in the wind…nothing happens to them. Go figure. Thanks to parents who cherish their kids and want to take good care of them!

Becky

September 22nd, 2010
11:50 am

@MJG..I get static about that a lot..I don’t drink (anymore) and at every family gathering that my family has, there is drinking..They always offer me a drink and when I tell them no that I have the kids with me, they say so? By the time that you leave, it won’t matter..NO, NO, NO..

I have a coworker that came in last week telling us about how she “woke”
up on her back porch that is only about 15 ft or less from a train track..Prior to going to bed, she had had about 5 shots of tequila and taken a zanax…I looked at her and ask her where was her daughter during this time..She was like, oh, she was in bed..DUH..Your daughter is only 9 yrs. old and you saw no problem with that? None what so ever she said..

Kate

September 22nd, 2010
12:01 pm

I will never understand parents drinking with their kids around. Why would you even want to do that? How much fun is it to be responsible for little kids while your wasted?! Your an adult, not to mention a parent; it’s time to broaden your horizons a little!

Becky

September 22nd, 2010
12:22 pm

Amen Kate..I always get told that I’m an old fuddy duddy..I don’t have a problem with people that drink, heck I have drank enough in my lifetime to sink a battleship, but I like to think that I have grown past having to drink for everything..

motherjanegoose

September 22nd, 2010
12:26 pm

From what I can tell….the people I mentioned, do not seem to think they can gave fun unless there is alcohol. I worry about their children, as the apple does not fall far from the tree. They are heading ino their teens. Let’s just say…we can see them clearly from our house.

JJ

September 22nd, 2010
12:45 pm

Well, I drink, and I have drank in front of my child her whole life. I’m not talking falling down drunk, but I do like a few cocktails or glasses of wine at night. Not every night….

I’m very social, and love to have people over to my house. I have had people over to my house and we are drinking. Yes there are kids around. Yes some get drunk….but the ones who do get drunk have a DD. I will NOT allow anyone to leave my home if they have been drinking and don’t have a DD. I have several friends who don’t drink at all……

I spent my childhood watching my parents party, drink and have a good time. I also saw them get up and go to work every single day. Neither one of my parents ever took a sick day, expect when my mom had to have an emergency hysterectomy and my dad was in an auto accident (not his fault and alcohol WAS NOT involved).. My mom didn’t drink a lot, but there were some pretty wild parties I remember as a child in our home.

You can drink and be responsible.

Kate

September 22nd, 2010
12:52 pm

I have some neighbors who do the same thing. They make no secret of the fact they get trashed pretty much every evening on their back deck after dinner, all while completely ignoring their poor kid. I’ve actually seen them stumbling past my house at night a few times. And these are affluent, well educated people! Their son is a sweet kid, but, needless to say, he has a lot of problems.

JOD

September 22nd, 2010
12:56 pm

TWG – My post is missing?

JOD

September 22nd, 2010
12:56 pm

How weird – it showed back up when I refreshed again *blushing*

Mary

September 22nd, 2010
1:06 pm

I drink. I drink in front of my kids. Not falling down drunk, but I do like a few cocktails or a couple of glasses of wine in the evenings. Not to mention beer when watching football. I drink responsiblity when my kids are around. They have grown up with me and hubby, our family and friends who all drink. I am very social and love to have people over to my house. We play cards, or watch football, or play badmitton in the back yard. There is alcohol. The kids have all grown up watching us drink.

You can drink without getting wasted.

JJ

September 22nd, 2010
1:29 pm

I see NOTHING wrong with having a few drinks in front of your kids. Trust me, when they get a certain age, they are going to try it themselves, whether you drank or not.

I drink. I drink responsibly. Yes there have been times when I’ve had too much, but either she wasn’t around, or I spent the night where I was. I have NEVER driven with her in the car after drinking.

We are strying from the topic here...

September 22nd, 2010
2:11 pm

jmb

September 22nd, 2010
2:31 pm

I’m with JJ on this one….NOTHING wrong with a few drinks around your kids. My husband and I have a few beers pretty much every afternoon and none of my kids drink so it’s not contagious.

Becky

September 22nd, 2010
2:41 pm

I’m not against having a drink or so with the children around either, I’m against getting plastered when the kids are around..Most of the people that I know that drink while their kids are around do that..

[...] the original post: Is your car seat installed correctly? | Momania: A Blog for Busy Moms By admin | category: car | tags: black, black-1980, car, kyw, philadelphia, [...]

CDD

September 22nd, 2010
3:44 pm

Re: the car seats:
I put the seats in – always have. My husband is great with most anything but car seats don’t seem to be his thing. I got a new one with each child. I don’t know why but that’s something I never handed down to another one. Now I’ve only got one in a car seat at all, no boosters anymore (yay!) My youngest older child is 6 but she is very tall for her age & meets the requirements to be w/out a seat. My youngest is 2 and still in a 5-point car seat and it is strapped to the seat with both the tethers and seat belt. The main thing I don’t like about that is that it’s so tight the seat is getting permanent indentations in it. But I prefer that to the alternative. I can shake the seat very hard & it doesn’t move much at all.

As far as the drinking around kids (side) topic goes, I do drink around my kids. Wine only – can’t stand the taste of beer – and not to the point of drunkenness. I enjoy drinking wine with or after dinner and tell my children that it is an adult’s-only beverage which I will let them taste when they are older. I remember my father let me have my first taste of alcohol when I was 16 at Christmastime. It was peppermint schnapps and I’ve always associated that drink with the holidays, but never had it more than twice since then – very strong! As with most other things, kids need to be taught moderation if they’re going to have it at all.

Kate

September 22nd, 2010
4:02 pm

Like Becky, I was definitely referring to people who drink themselves into a stupor right in front of their kids. Even my own father, who was, and still is, one of the best parents in world, had an occasional beer in front of me. He even let me have a sip every now and then :) Nothing wrong with that at all.

Becky

September 22nd, 2010
4:24 pm

@Kate..My Dad was just the opposite, I don’t recall ever seeing him sober..Guess that’s one reason that it bothers me that all of my brothers and sisters and their kids drink so much in front of their kids..As I said earlier, they call me an old fuddy duddy, so I guess I am..

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again..Life is way to short to be unhappy all the time..After this past weekend, I will do my best to be happy and not spend the rest of my life worrying about what other people think of me..

shaggy

September 22nd, 2010
5:29 pm

A better question is: Are there any insect parts in your similac?

I gotta say it would add protein, and make the little buggers have tough skin, plus maybe wings, extra legs, large multi-faceted eyes…

motherjanegoose

September 22nd, 2010
7:48 pm

@ we are straying…LOL…where are the topic police…sometimes things do get off topic…sometimes we all learn something too!