Public Service Announcement: Your child safety seat probably isn’t installed properly

I like to think I’m a pretty intelligent lady. And I know I’m cautious. Especially when it comes to my 3-month-old bundle of adorable, Mr. Judah Michael.

I read manuals. I always follow instructions. I take the rules very. seriously.

So when I installed Judah’s car seat back in November, and I couldn’t find a location in my area that did child safety seat inspections, I was extra careful. I followed all the instructions. I read the warnings and the rules. I felt pretty confident that Judah was safe and snug back there despite the fact that I didn’t get an expert to look things over. The seat we chose was super easy to install, and I didn’t think it was possible to screw it up too much.

When we installed his car seat base in our new car Tuesday, we were pretty frustrated with the thing. Judah’s seat has a handy level indicator built in. You know the seat is level when the bubbles line up between the little lines — like the level keychain everyone’s dad has on his keyring that he never uses, because seriously, how often do you need to level something? Unless you’re a carpenter. Or a professional picture frame hanger. In which case, you probably level things all the time. But I digress.

Anyway, we couldn’t get the bubbles to line up in the right place, and I was fairly certain it wasn’t installed correctly, so I made an appointment today and headed over to AAA, where car safety seat inspections are performed for free.

I discovered the leveling problem was one of many.

She showed me adjustments that I didn’t even know existed on the seat. She informed me that the seat belt securing it in place was WAY too loose. She adjusted the straps securing him, because they were a bit too slack. She reminded me of the dangers of unsecured debris in the car (this wasn’t a problem in my case, because my brand new car was free of any debris, but I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past.) In short, I got schooled on car seat safety.

All of this is to say: Even if you think you’ve been as cautious as possible, even if you followed every direction in your instruction manual, it’s worth it to make an appointment with a car seat safety inspector in your area to double check.

I know what you’re thinking. “Pfft. How hard can it be? This dummy just didn’t read the instructions.”

But guess what? 3 out of 4 safety seats are installed or buckled incorrectly. And the other 1 out of 4 people probably took the thing to an expert for inspection. Because I am telling you, I READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. I have never willfully disregarded a warning in a manual ever in my life. And I still screwed up my car seat installation.

Don’t be stubborn. Just go get it checked out. It takes 15 minutes, and it’s totally worth it.

One thought on “Public Service Announcement: Your child safety seat probably isn’t installed properly

  1. Kacie

    Yeah…it can be confusing. I’m pretty confident in our infant seat install even though we haven’t had it checked out, but I read lots of car seat safety forums from time to time and I read this instruction manual 3x before fiddling with it.

    When Vivienne was born, my friend came to take Johnny to her house and she took his car seat in case they went anywhere. So when it was time for J to come home that day, we had to install the car seat in our car once more. Shane was exhausted and really had no idea what he was doing and it was dark out, and so her husband installed it.

    A few days later when I was in the car wtih them, I took one look and realized it was ALL WRONG. They had installed it forward-facing (which was fine) but for our seat, you have to flip a lever and re-route the LATCH location. Neither of those things happened. Plus, a strap was twisted.

    I was grateful that nothing happened while he was riding around in a seat that was like that.

    As soon as we got home, I sent Shane out to reinstall it the right way after telling him what to do and having him read the instructions for himself. Then I went out to check it. I would have done the whole thing myself, except I had a baby just days ago and didn’t think I could hack it.

    So moral of my story — don’t let anyone install it for you unless they are a car seat tech, and even then, check their install!

    BECAUSE ANOTHER STORY: I took J’s seat to the car seat tech whatever before he was born, and he used the latch anchors and put it in the middle. INCORRECT. We were driving around like that for like a year before I realized that he had to be outboard with LATCH or use the seatbelt in the center. So even experts can be wrong at times.

    They really need to make it a lot easier, since so many installations are wrong.

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