1. Parenting

Video:Install a Toddler Car Seat

with Laurie Walker

Installing your toddler car seat correctly is fundamental to it working correctly. Learn the correct steps to installing a car seat from a trained professional.See Transcript

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Transcript:Install a Toddler Car Seat

Hi! I'm Laurie from Safe Kids USA, where I'm the technical advisor. I'm here today with About.com to show you how to properly install your car seat. To be sure your baby is the safest that it can be whenever you're in the vehicle. Convertible Car Seats This is a convertible car seat that can be used rear facing for the newborn all the way up to 30 or 35 pounds. And then switched to a forward facing orientation for that older child. Up to 40 – 50 – 65 – even 80 pounds in some instances. Read your instructions to know what your car seat is capable of doing and use the harness to the highest weight possible before you move the child to the next type of car seat. When to Switch From Infant to Toddler Car Seats When your baby outgrows the infant only seat, we don't want him to turn forward facing till he's at least 1 and 20 pounds. But the common thinking is today, that we want them rear facing for much longer - to be rear facing as long as the harness allows them to ride rear facing. In most car seats, that's going to be about 30 to 35 pounds. So, don't be in a hurry to turn your child forward facing. Take full advantage of that rear facing limit that you have on the high weight harnesses. Install the Car Seat We have two options for installing this car seat. We can either use the hooks that make it for the lower anchors. Or, we can use the seat belt. So that we can actually attach it to the car and either one will do a perfect job of holding the car seat in. And I'm going to show you both ways to do that.

We'll be putting this lower anchor in at this position down here. Where we're finding our icon We're going to put weight in the seat, take all of the slack out of the seat belt. Pulling all of the extra slack out of it. And that way we don't get the one in inch side to side or front to back. And we test it down here. Side to side, front to back. This is always going to be loose up here cause it's absorbing crash energy and protecting the baby's head.

And, one secret that I have for parents is that it generally helps if there are two people helping to put the car seat in - one to put their weight in the seat and the other one to actually work the belts.

Install the Car Seat With Seat Belts

And we're going to show you how to do the installation using the seat belt. And we want to be sure we use the correct belt path - putting it exactly where the manufacturer has recommended. There's a label here that tells you for rear facing only. It's right up in here. We're going to slide the seat belt right up through there. Then we're going to tighten it by putting our weight in the seat, and then pulling down and then locking the seat belt to be sure that we have it in a locked position, that the car seat can't move more than one inch side to side or front to back.

So, what we're going to do is put our weight in the seat and then we're going to pull this belt to get it as tight as we possibly can and then what we want to do is tighten this up. So that we get all of the excess out of the seat belt so that this is now nice and tight. And then, in this car, we're actually going to pull this all the way out to lock it into place and to be sure that our seat belt can't move anymore. And this belt is now locked in place. My car seat doesn't move more than one inch side to side or front to back.

What Is a Convertible Car Seat?

Once our baby has outgrown this in the rear facing mode, which means that they now can no longer use this harness rear facing, at 30 or 35 pounds depending on the manufacturer we want to pull out our instructions and make sure that we get it converted, they call it a convertible seat, get it converted so that the older child who's now going to ride forward facing can now ride in it safely. Forward Facing Car Seats We have to adjust our harness straps to make sure they're either at or above the child's shoulders. And there's one additional step that we're going to use for the forward facing child. We're going to try it with the lower anchors first, in this position. And now we're going to use what's called a top tether to stabilize the top of the car seat. We don't use this for rear facing but we do use it for forward facing.

So, this top tether is actually plugged into a position behind the seat and this holds the top of the car seat stable in a crash. We'll be putting these clips into the lower anchors. Notice I've got this little icon here that shows us where those anchors are. I'm tightening it to get to as tight as it can be. And now I'm going to put the top tether in, and tighten that. Now, this car seat is in there so tight. It doesn't move more than one inch side to side or front to back.

Now, we're going to take the seat belt and we're going to put the seat belt through right where the manufacturer tells you. Belt path for forward facing toddler – right here – and then you can take the belt and slide it right through the back and buckle it in. I'm going to pull this belt to get it as tight as I possibly can, putting some weight in the seat, then I'm going to pull all of the excess webbing, we'll tighten this.

And we've got a great installation now, we're facing the right direction. We'll put our child in here so that the harness straps are above his shoulders. We want to make sure that he stays in this seat until the harness is fully outgrown. I many car seats that'll be 50 – 65 – even 80 pounds. So check your instructions to see what your maximum weight is for your harness straps.

Toddler Car Seat Use

You want to make sure you use your car seat every single time your child's in the car and make sure that every person in that car is buckled to be sure that your child gets the message that seat belts are for everyone. That safety is for everyone in this vehicle.

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