8 Common Car Seat Mistakes

Don't make these mistakes when installing baby's car seat.

Car seats aren't as easy to use as they may seem. According to safety experts, here's where most parents go wrong:

1. Child is turned face-forward too early. Babies must ride facing the rear until they are at least 1 year old and weigh 20 pounds -- preferably longer.

2. Seat isn't installed tightly enough. When jiggled in the area where the safety belt is pulled through, the chair should not move more than 1 inch in any direction.

3. Harness straps are too loose. The straps should be tightened so that slack can't be pinched between an adult's thumb and forefinger.

4. Infant seat angled incorrectly. It must be reclined just enough so the child doesn't flop forward, but no more than 45 degrees from vertical. If he is positioned at more than that, he could be thrown out between the straps headfirst.

5. Harness straps are in wrong slots. In the rear-facing position, straps should be in slots at or just below the shoulder. In forward-facing position, straps should come through the uppermost slots (unless a particular car seat's instructions specify otherwise).

6. Harness retainer clip is out of place. It should be at child's armpit level.

7. Locking clip is out of place. If needed, it should be positioned no more than an inch from the safety-belt latch.

8. Safety belt isn't in locked mode. Check vehicle's owner manual to determine what type of belts you have. Then follow directions regarding how they must be used with a child-safety restraint.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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