Car Seats Safety

Proper Fit and Installation

When shopping for a car seat consider these five steps crucial to your child’s safety.

  • Selection

    Find the Best Car Seat for You

    Choose a seat that best fits your child and your vehicle. Make sure features of the car seat are easy to use and understand, so you have confidence you’re installing it correctly.

  • Direction

    Rear-Facing or Forward-Facing?

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children remain in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the seat.

  • Location

    Tight Install Every Time

    The safest seating position is the one that works best for your car seat, vehicle and family. Choose the location that provides the tightest installation every time using either seat belt or LATCH.

  • Proper Fit

    Position Harness Straps and Chest Clip Properly

    In most car seats, manufacturers say the harness should be at or slightly below the child’s shoulders when rear-facing. For forward-facing children, place the harness at or slightly above the child’s shoulders. The harness should always be snug so you can’t pull the strap from the body or pinch the webbing together. The straps should be flat and untwisted, and the chest clip should be at armpit level.

  • Installation

    Read the Manuals

    Technology changes and manufacturers are always thinking of new ways to keep children safe. Be sure to read your vehicle and car seat manuals for proper instructions and to stay up to date.

    Find the Right Manual

  • Virtual Consultations

    Please read your vehicle and car seat instruction manuals to help you with this checklist. If you have any issues, questions, or concerns, our team of certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians are here to help!

    Talk to an Expert

When to Transition

Navigating when to transition into a new car seat for your child can be overwhelming, but we are here to help! It is important to check your state laws and reference your user manuals to check height and weight requirements for transitioning between car seats or into a seat belt.

  • Infant Car Seat to Rear-Facing Convertible

    UPPAbaby recommends transitioning out of an infant car seat to a rear-facing convertible seat by a child’s first birthday to ensure their body is properly contained in the event of a crash.

    Always note the height and weight requirements of the car seat (whichever comes first). You must move a child to a convertible seat when the top of their head is 1” or less from the top of the carrier or headrest.

  • Rear-Facing Convertible to Forward-Facing Convertible

    Infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. Most convertible car seats have height and weight limits that allow children to ride rear-facing for two or more years.

    In a frontal crash, a rear-facing seat cocoons and catches a child, distributing the crash forces more evenly, thus reducing the risk of potential injury.

  • Forward-Facing Convertible /Forward-Facing Harnessed Car Seat to Belt Positioning Booster

    Keep a child in a car seat with a five-point harness and a top tether as long as possible to ensure they are properly secured. A five-point harness fits smaller children much better than a vehicle belt would in a booster. Keep your child in their car seat until they reach the weight or height requirements allowed per the manufacturer before moving into a booster seat.

  • Belt Positioning Booster to No Car Seat (Three-Point Vehicle Belt)

    A Belt Positioning Booster ‘boosts’ children up so the vehicle belt hits the hard points of the body like it would an adult in a vehicle seat. To ensure a child is ready for a seat belt, the following is recommended:

    • The shoulder belt should cross their collar bone then cross their chest cavity
    • The lap belt should sit across their lower hip bones and never across their belly
    • Knees should bend at the edge of the vehicle seat cushion
    • No slouching; a child should be mature enough to sit with the seat belt positioned properly as indicated above
    • The child’s back should rest flat against the vehicle seat back

Safety Checklist

One of the most important jobs you have as a parent is keeping your child safe when they are riding in a vehicle. The best way to do that is by properly installing your car seat and using it the right way. Here are some car seat safety tips to protect your most precious cargo:

  • Installation should be tight

    The car seat should not move more than 1″ in the belt path

  • Store loose objects in the trunk

    Anything unrestrained in the vehicle can be a projectile

  • No bulky clothing under harness

    Too much padding can give a false sense of tightness

  • Car seats expire

    Check labeling on the seats or with the manufacturer

  • Place chest clip at armpit level

    Not too high or too low

  • Conduct the pinch test

    Adjust harness, check straps and review safety guidelines

  • Check installation often

    Adjust harness, check straps and review safety guidelines

  • Read your manuals

    Every car and car seat have different installation instructions, so make sure you read both

  • Choose the seat that fits your child’s current age and weight

    As children grow, the types of restraints evolve (e.g., rear-facing only, booster, or seat belt)

  • Avoid air bags

    Children in rear-facing seats should never be placed in front of an active passenger air bag

  • Keep children in the back seat until at least age 13

    It’s the safest place to ride

  • Remember to register

    Register your car seat so you can be notified in the event of a safety recall

  • Always wear your seatbelt

    Children are more likely to buckle up if you do


AAP Updates Recommendations on Car Seats for Children (from the American Academy of Pediatrics)