Quick Tips

Quick Tips for Every Parent and Child

  1. Restrain your child on every trip, EVERY TIME
  2. Keep your child in the back seat
  3. Use the best safety restraint for your child's weight and size
  4. Use the safety seats and belts correctly
  5. The safest vehicle seat for your child's safety seat is the one in which you can install the safety seat tightly and correctly

View the Best Practices for Every Parent and Child


Quick Tips for Rear-Facing Car Seats

  1. The best angle for your child’s rear-facing car seat is from 30-45 degrees (from vertical). Newborns and infants with poor head control should be closer to or at a 45 degree angle, while older infants and babies with good head control can sit more upright (closer to 30 degrees). If the car seat is too reclined, your child is at risk for ejection. If the car seat is too upright, the child may not be able to breathe. However, you should ALWAYS follow the car seat manual and use the recline angle stated by the car seat manufacturer.
  2. A pool noodle (cut to size) or a tightly-rolled towel under the “foot end” of the rear-facing seat can aid in achieving the correct angle. Read your car seat’s owner manual to see if the manufacturer allows these items. However, most rear-facing-only car seats that have a separate base also have a recline extender/adjuster. Use the base extender/adjuster unless you cannot obtain the correct recline angle with it. Do not use both the base extender/adjuster and a pool noodle/rolled towel unless the car seat manufacturer specifically states you may do so.
  3. The harness keeps your baby in the car seat during a crash. The straps should be at or below the baby’s shoulders and should be secured snugly. If you can pinch the straps at the shoulder, it is too loose. Baby’s harness should fit close to his or her body. The harness should not be twisted.
  4. The chest clip helps keep the harness in the correct position. The chest clip should be positioned at armpit level, unless otherwise indicated by your owner manual.
  5. LATCH is an anchoring system that enables you to secure your car seat to a LATCH-equipped vehicle without using the vehicle’s seat belt system. See your vehicle owner manual for information.

Quick Tips for Forward-Facing Safety Seats

  1. Forward-facing car seats should be placed at the correct angle for the forward-facing position. If you are using a convertible seat, you will need to adjust the recline foot or other angle adjuster to make the seat more upright. Consult your car seat’s owner manual to determine the correct angle for the forward-facing position.
  2. For forward-facing seats, the harness straps should be threaded through the designated reinforced harness slots and should rest at or above the child’s shoulders. The harness should be secured snugly. If you can pinch the straps at the shoulder, they are too loose. The child’s harness should fit close to his or her body. The harness straps should not be twisted.
  3. The chest clip keeps the harness positioned over your child’s shoulders. The chest clip should be positioned at armpit level, unless otherwise indicated in your car seat owner manual.
  4. A tether helps keep the top of the car seat, as well as your child’s head, from moving up to 4-6” forward in a crash. The tether attaches the top of the car seat to a tether anchor in most vehicles. See your vehicle owner manual for information.
  5. LATCH is an anchoring system that enables you to secure your car seat to a LATCH-equipped vehicle without using the vehicle’s seat belt system. See your vehicle owner manual for information.

Quick Tips for Belt-Positioning Booster Seats

  1. Backless boosters may be used in vehicle seating positions that have head restraints or head rests.
  2. High-back boosters should be used if your child’s head is not supported by the vehicle’s seat back.
  3. Booster seats raise children so that the vehicle lap and shoulder belts are properly positioned across the child’s chest and hips.
  4. Your booster seat may be equipped with LATCH or a tether. Check both the vehicle owner manual and the booster seat owner manual to see if using LATCH or the tether is recommended.

Quick Tips for Seat Belts

Seat belts are made for adults, not children. Seat belts should fit across the collar bone, with the shoulder belt lying between the neck and the shoulder. The lap belt should fit low on the hips or high on the thighs.


Quick Tips: Can Your Child Wear a Seat Belt?

If you are wondering whether your child is ready to move from a belt-positioning booster seat to an adult seat belt, take the 5-Step Test (courtesy of SafetyBeltSafe, U.S.A.)

  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
  2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
  3. Does the lap belt cross the shoulder between the neck and the arm?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the WHOLE trip?

Resources

AAP Updates Recommendations on Car Seats for Children