How do you Install a Child Safety Seat?

There are two acceptable ways to install child safety seats into your vehicle, either by using the vehicle’s seat belts or by using a clip system known as the LATCH system. If your car seat and vehicle are equipped with the LATCH clip system, this is the best way to install the car seat. Each car seat and vehicle is different, so make sure you check with your car seat’s installation guide and your vehicle’s owner’s manual before installing any child safety seat.

In general, rear-facing infant seats are installed with the LATCH system in this manner: First, thread the LATCH attachment through the base of the seat. Hook one clip into the connector on the seat of the vehicle. Then, place your knee in the seat to use some of your weight to push the seat down. Clip the other clip into the connector on the other side of the seat and pull the LATCH attachment tight. An infant seat rarely needs the tether attached. A forward-facing toddler seat is installed in the same way as the infant seat, with one exception. Forward-facing seats need to have the tether attached. The tether is the LATCH attachment that is connected to the back of the car seat and clips to a connector behind the vehicle’s seat.

If your vehicle or car seat is not equipped with LATCH connectors, use the car’s seat belts to install the car seat. For a rear-facing seat, thread the lap and shoulder belt through the slot that is marked “belt path.” On a convertible seat it is very important that you find the right slot, as these seats have two slots, one for the forward-facing position and one for the rear-facing position. These slots should be clearly marked. Before clipping the seat belt, use your weight to push the seat down into the vehicle’s seat. You will then want to use the locking clip to lock the seat belt in place, if your car seat has one. The lock clip must be used if you can feel any slack in the seat belt after installing it. Use the same steps to install a forward-facing seat with your seat belts.

When you are done installing a car seat, try to move it. If it moves more than an inch from side to side, you have not installed it correctly. Try tightening straps or reinstall the seat completely. Car seats that are installed correctly will only move slightly from side to side. If you are unable to install the car seat properly, your pediatrician or local police station will be able to help you with the installation.

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