What’s inside: 7 common car seat mistakes that parents don’t know they’re making. Car seat safety checklist to keep your baby safe.
Car Seat Mistakes on Social Media
You see it ALL the time.
A friend posts a photo on social media of their precious little one snugly fastened in their car seat. What a cutie!
And then it hits you — their little one isn’t buckled in safely at all. You can’t help but notice a glaring car seat mistake. Do you say something? Or are you worried that they will be offended and think you’re criticizing their parenting?
This is a dilemma I go through often, so I decided that I would re-create some of the car seat mistakes I see in social media photos and bring them to light.
I’m sure that I’ve made some mistakes myself, so I’ve teamed up with Chicco for Baby Safety Month to learn and share tips to make sure your infant or toddler is correctly and safely secured.
Common Car Seat Mistakes – in Pictures
Note: This post may contain affiliate links to products we love and use; read our disclosure policy here.
1. The Driving Selfie
Ok, so this isn’t technically about car seats, but I see it often so I felt it necessary to include.
Hopefully everyone who shares a selfie of them in the driver seat is safely stopped with the car in park. Because it would be absolutely crazy to snap a photo while driving…especially with kids in the backseat!!
In case you were wondering, the above photo was taken while we were in a car wash: car in neutral, hands off the wheel.
Never never never never take selfies while driving. That is all.
2. Loose Car Seat Straps
I exaggerated a bit for the photo’s sake — if there is visible looping, bunching, or slack in the car seat straps, then it is too loose.
A good rule of thumb: if you can pinch the car seat strap/harness webbing between two fingers, it needs tightening.
3. Wearing a Winter Jacket
Bulky winter coats should never be worn in a car seat. Even though the car seat straps seemed tight enough when you buckled your child in normal conditions, an accident can change that in an instant.
The forces exerted in a car accident can compress the fluffy insulation and air inside a jacket. The straps that seemed snug at first may now be too loose to be effective.
4. Straps are Twisted
When car seat harness straps are twisted, they might not be tight enough to be effective in a crash. Always make sure that straps are properly threaded.
The extra couple minutes it takes to un-twist a strap can save a life!
5. The Chest Clip Isn’t on the Chest
The chest clip is so-named for a reason: it is supposed to lie across your child’s chest.
If the chest clip is too low, the car seat harness could slide off a child’s shoulders in a crash. Too high, and the chest clip could be uncomfortable at best, or cause injury in an accident.
Proper chest clip placement: in line with your child’s armpits.
6. Chest Clip Not Buckled
Always fasten the chest clip — as noted above, the chest clip is crucial for keeping shoulder straps in place.
They’re generally designed so your child can’t unbuckle themselves, however, it is not impossible (trust me, I know).
If you hear a “click,” pull over and make sure your child is still securely fastened.
7. Forward Facing Too Soon.
Babies under one year should never ride facing forward.
However, children under age two are also MUCH safer remaining rear-facing (and in some states it’s the law).
A forward-facing toddler (ages 12-23 months) is FIVE TIMES more likely to sustain a life-threatening injury in a crash than a child in a rear-facing car seat.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Just because the law says it is ok to turn your child around at one year or two years of age, doesn’t mean you have to do so! Many convertible car seats can accommodate toddlers in a rear-facing position well past two years old.
Our Chicco Nextfit Zip Convertible seat can rear-face up to 40 pounds, so we still have a while to go. Knowing my littlest traveler is safest this way, I don’t see any reason to turn forward sooner.
Car Seats for Littles has an excellent article that busts some of the most common myths about rear-facing your baby/toddler.
This infographic also make a lot of important points:
Download our FREE Car Seat Checklist:
CLICK HERE for the free printable checklist which recaps the common car seat mistakes shown in this post.
For more tips, check out Chicco’s FREE comprehensive online car seat safety guide.
After all of these “DON’T” photos, here is the “DO” photo:
You’ll see that the harness is snugly fastened, with chest clip in the proper position across the sternum. There is no twisting or bunching of the harness webbing. There is no loose or thick clothing to interfere with buckling.
My daughter is pictured in the Chicco Nextfit Zip Convertible car seat, which will keep her rear-facing through 40 pounds and forward-facing through 65 pounds. It’s the third car seat we’ve tried since she was born, and it was BY FAR the easiest to install. That alone made me fall in love with this car seat!!
The cover zips off for easy cleaning and the cushioning is made to encourage air flow, keeping your child cooler. (This is crucial for our hot Texas summers!)
But the true test is that my daughter loves this car seat too! She loves to get in and get buckled, which definitely makes car rides much easier! Get more information about Chicco gear for all ages here.
Disclosure: We were provided a car seat by Chicco for review.
More car seat safety: How Long Does my Child Need a Booster Seat?