Inside Car Seat Tip

Lower anchors and tethers for childrenEver do a DIY car seat installation and it just doesn’t feel right? Maybe the angle is off, or it moves a bit too much from one side to the other despite your best efforts? Most parents struggle with car seat installations. According to child passenger safety statistics, most of us don’t know how to install or use child restraint systems properly. This is a safety problem — a problem that I encountered this week. And I’d like to share a tip that helped my family out in a tight spot.

After my daughter and I were rear-ended on the way to a birthday party, we had her car seat replaced. I installed her new car seat myself and had it inspected by an expert. However, later, I had to adjust her harness straps and reinstall it when she grew (she keeps growing, that one). At that point, I should have had the car seat professionally reinstalled or reinspected, but I didn’t. I figured I knew how to install the seat after getting a lesson from a certified child passenger safety technician.

My DIY car seat adjustment and installation was the best I’ve done yet, but there was a little too much wiggle room at the bottom. This was worrisome because car seats are not supposed to move more than one inch from side-to-side at the belt path. It wasn’t moving exactly an inch where the lower anchor belt was holding it, but it was still jostling too much for my peace of mind. We had been in an accident and didn’t want to take anything for granted. Besides, my instincts told me something was off (always go with your gut, right?). And no matter how much tugging and tightening I did, it just wouldn’t get any tighter . . . until I got this “inside” tip from The Car Seat Lady!

How to use the “Inside Car Seat Tip” when installing a car seat using the LATCH system:

  1. After fastening the lower anchor, remove the side portion of the car seat cover and thread the lower anchor adjustment tail strap through the INSIDE of the car seat (as shown in lower left photo).
  2. Put your weight on the car seat (for rear-facing seats, lean into them, as seen in the video; for forward-facing seats, kneel in them, like I’m doing in the center photo below).
  3. Pull tail strap towards you to tighten lower anchor while rocking side to side.

That’s it! NOW try to wiggle the seat. Nice and secure!

Tuned In Parents - car seat DIY safety tips

And my munchkin approves (right photo)! Now that I’ve got her Graco 3-in-1 convertible car seat all adjusted and re-reinstalled, I realize I should have adjusted the straps even higher, since forward-facing seat straps should be at or above a child’s shoulders. She’ll outgrow this harness height in a couple of weeks! That means I’ll have to uninstall it, take the seat apart, and start all over. Guess who’s making an appointment for a certified technician to do all that fun stuff? Yep!

Thank you for being tuned in parents. And a special thanks to The Car Seat Lady for this awesome tip! I welcome your comments, suggestions, and more tips (can’t wait to share YOURS)! There’s more for you, too, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!

-Elle C.


About Elle C. Mayberry

Elle C. Mayberry is a mom and author, who just released a new children's book with her young daughter. With a passion for parenting and degrees in psychology and "make it workology," she created Tuned In Parents (TiP).

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