A car seat is one of the most important investments that you will make when you have a baby. Car seats save thousands of lives every year. Yet, installing a car seat can be a bit of a challenge. The biggest challenge in terms of how to install a car seat is the wide variety of car seats and cars that are available. One car seat might install fine in a “bench” type seat in a minivan, for example, yet have a harder time installing into a “bucket” seat or a “captain’s chair” in a different sort of a vehicle. It is estimated that somewhere around 80% of car seats are installed incorrectly. A correctly installed car seat can mean the difference between life and death for your child.
The good news is that there have been significant changes in the way that car seats are manufactured and rated in the last several years. Car seats and vehicles that have been made since 2002 are required to have a specific sort of car seat arrangement, known as “Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children”, or LATCH for short. The benefit to using a vehicle and a car seat with the LATCH system is that you don’t even use the car’s own seatbelts to attach the seat into the vehicle. If your vehicle features LATCH, it is almost always advisable to purchase a LATCH car seat and to install that car seat in your car.
If you don’t have a newer vehicle that is equipped with LATCH, there is still hope. There is also an “ease of use” rating that is provided for car seats. This rating can give you some idea whether installing a car seat is going to be difficult or not. Still, this rating does not guarantee that you will have an easy time when you install your car seat.
There are ways that you can make sure that you install a car seat correctly. Obviously, installing a car seat correctly begins with following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. In addition, there are places where you can have your car seat inspected to see if it is installed properly. While some cities may have permanent places you can do this, even most small towns will occasionally have an occasional event that you can take your car seat to see if it is properly installed.