Guide: 3 Best Place to Install Your Infant’s Car Seat
Have you recently purchased a car seat and do not know where to install it? There are different positions you can place the infant car seat. You also need to know that there are specific car seat models that you must install facing specific directions.
Front Passenger Seat
Although safety experts do not encourage placing your child in the front, some parents prefer seeing what their child is doing. Putting the car seat in the front also helps prevent you from looking in the rear and being distracted. If your child needs monitoring for other reasons, such as health concerns, you are better off asking another adult to ride in the rear with them.
It is illegal to place a rear-facing car seat in the front of the car, especially if there is an airbag. Suppose you do so, and the airbag deploys. In that case, your child will suffer two injuries: the impact of the deploying airbag and another from being thrown forward.
Some auto manufacturers make infant car seats specifically for use in front-facing applications. If you plan to place your child in a front-facing seat, ensure that the seat is made for this type of placement.
Rear Seat Behind the Driver
It is not a popular position for infant car seats because you’d need to get out onto the roadside of the car to access the child. Also, some car seats are not compatible with this position because the seat does not have a flat base.
Rear Seat Behind the Front Passenger
This is a better position compared to placing your child behind the driver. This is probably one of the safest positions for a baby’s car seat. With this position, you can access your child from the car side facing the pavement, which is safe.
Where you install car seats also depends on what car seat you own. If you have a forward-facing car seat, the safest place to install it is at the center of the rear seat. Placing the infant car seat in the center is still the safest for a rear-facing car seat.
Rear Middle Seat
The middle seat is the safest place for you to install a car seat, and this is because of how far it is from the sides of the car. Almost all manufacturers recommend placing the car seat in the rear seat’s middle. Also, only place the car seat in this position if the middle seat has both a lap and diagonal seat belt.
Where to Install Car Seats in Minivans or SUVs
Suppose you own a car bigger than a regular sedan, like an SUV or a minivan, the rules of infant car seat installations change slightly. If the minivan has three-row seats, you want to ensure you place your child in the middle of the van. If the minivan has benches, you still want to put the car seat in the middle of the bench.
What happens when you’re installing more than one car seat? If you’re installing more than one car seat, the middle rule still applies. You can place each car seat in the middle of each row. If this is not an option, the next safest place to install a car seat in a minivan is on the passenger’s side, but in the middle row. If you have another car seat to install, the passenger side is still the safest, but instead of the middle position, you place it in the back seat.
Several conditions warrant you placing a car seat behind the passenger’s or driver’s seat;
- If you are installing several car seats. Once the middle seat has one car seat, it only leaves the passenger or driver’s side for the other car seats. Whichever position you use, ensure the seat has both the lap and diagonal seat belt.
- If you have two kids where one doesn’t need a car seat, the second is in a car seat in the forward-facing position.
- Again, if you have two kids both using car seats, place the older child in a car seat behind the passenger seat, and the youngest in a car seat in the middle of the back seat.
When to Install An Infant Car Seat
So when exactly do you need to install an infant car seat? You can install the car seat as early as when you’re 35 weeks pregnant. You can later upgrade when your child reaches their first birthday and weighs more than 20 pounds (9 kilograms). That’s according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, whose research shows that children under the age of two are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they ride rear-facing.
Car Seat Safety Mistakes to Avoid
As you install the infant car seats, there are several mistakes that you can unknowingly make.
- Purchasing a used car seat without a thorough inspection. Even though buying a second-hand car seat saves you money, ensure you inspect it thoroughly to determine if it is safe to use. Avoid it if it has visible damage or shows extreme wear and tear signs.
- Not removing bulky outerwear that your child is wearing. A heavy layer of clothes will prevent the harness system from securing your child correctly. Remove the bulky outer clothes, place your child in the car seat, and cover them with a warm coat or blanket.
- Switching to a booster seat before your child is ready. Remember, your child can use the car seat for as long as they are within the maximum height and weight limitations. Your child may still be too young to use a booster with an adult seatbelt.
- Incorrectly using a booster seat is another mistake parents often make. You must always use a booster seat with a lap and diagonal belt, never with a lap belt alone. Using the seat with just the lap belt significantly compromises your child’s safety.
With all the information mentioned above, you now know where to install a car seat, when to upgrade to a bigger seat, and typical car seat installation mistakes you should avoid.