Lets talk about all the hard and frustrating things we have to do as parents….function on little sleep, figure out how to get the pickiest of eaters to eat something, not loose our minds when answering the same questions for the 5000th time that day….I could go on and on and on.
But by far, one of the most frustrating things (for me at least) is installing car-seats. I swear to you that I feel tears start to well up in my eyes, if for some reason I have to move one of my kids seats.
Car-seats are so bulky and awkward, and it is some kind of workout to get them installed. I can never get the latches to work, and I end up fighting with the dumb things for way too long. My sweet husband, bless his heart, won’t even move the seats anymore because he can never manage to get all the belts and latches in the right place and then I have to re do it anyway. He’s super great at a lot of other things though, so I give him a free pass, but I digress.
I know the pictures in car-seat manuals are supposed to be helpful, and maybe I am the only one with this problem, but the little illustrations never make sense to me. I can never tell where the belts are going or arrows are pointing too. And car-seat installation and safety is not something I want to make my best guess on. I need to KNOW those seats are in correctly. Those seats hold my whole world in tight and my children’s safety is worth all the frustration in the world.
Even after almost 4 years of installing and reinstalling car-seats, I am still no pro. But here are some things I have learned make it easier.
Read the car-seat manual AND your vehicle manual
I know I said above that the car-seat manuals frustrate me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t look at them. The pictures may not be helpful, but the information in them is SO important. It is important to know weight limits, which belt path to use, if you need to be using tethers or anchors. And your vehicles manual is equally important, each car is different when it comes to where you should install your car seats, if you need to use the latch system vs the belt, weight limits for latches or tethers. If you are like me, and have no clue what you did with that little booklet, you can find most car-seat manuals on the manufacturers website. You can also reference the stickers on the side of your seat, they don’t tell you everything, but they do have most of the important points.
Read or Watch Video Tutorials
I am a visual learner, so watching a video or a photo tutorial is always helpful to me. Not illustrations, like the manuals, but real time photographs. Cars.com has some really awesome picture tutorials, showing Certified Child Passenger Safety Specialists (CPST) installing all different seats in all different types of vehicles. Not only do they show how the seats can be installed, but they test the different options and abilities of each seat and vehicle. They give each vehicle and seat a letter grade for things like rear facing, front facing, latch, and many others. You can also search for which vehicles can fit 3 seats in a row, or which have a third row in which car-seats can safely be installed. Their website has videos on car-seat safety as well.
Reviews like this can also come in handy when you are picking out a new car-seat or even a new vehicle. Helps take some of the guess work out or to avoid potential frustrations. Click here to go to their library of reviews
Get Hands on Help from a CPST
Did you know there really is such a thing as a car-seat pro? Certified Child Passenger Safety Specialists are specifically trained in installing car seats and keeping kids safe in the car. They can show you how to install your seat, and they will also watch you install it and correct anything as you go. I had my seats checked when my son was young, and I was surprised to learn some of the things that we were doing wrong. We were using both the latch and the belt (did you know you’re only supposed to use one?) and we had a “head pillow” in our newborn seat, which was no good as well. It was a really awesome learning experience and I appreciated the hands on help. Click here to find a Carseat Check or a CPST near you
Practice Makes Perfect
Install and Reinstall your car-seat, until you know it backwards and forwards. As annoying as it is to take time out to repeat the installation of a seat over and over, knowing how to do it correctly is valuable knowledge. And the more that you do it, the faster you will get and then it won’t be such a worry to move each time. If you have more than one type of seat, make sure you practice with all of them, as they are all very different.
I’ll cross my fingers and toes that you don’t have to install any car-seats anytime soon, but if you do, don’t forget these tips!!
Do you have a tip that I missed? Share it with me in the comments!