Buckling Your Baby into a Rear-Facing Car Seat
Putting on a seatbelt can help protect you from injuries in case of an accident. It is important for all passengers, including children, to be buckled up to their car seats. On the same breath, it is worth mentioning that car seatbelts are only effective if properly used.
The most common practice is buckling up babies on rear-facing car seats. Children should be kept rear facing until they are at least two years old. Rear facing infant car seats are not the same.
Therefore, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with the features and requirements of this type of seat.
Find the Right Fit for Your Baby
Infant car seats are not one-size-fits-all. One could be a perfect fit for one baby and not fitting for another baby. To find out if an infant car seat is the perfect height and weight for your car, check the labels on the side of the car seat to see if they have the needed requirements.
If you are looking for a car seat for a newborn, it is unlikely that the baby will exceed the height and weight requirements of the seat. In addition, smaller babies may not meet the minimum weight for car seats.
Set Up the Harness Straps
Most infant car seats come with more than one harness height position. Carefully read the manual of the car seat you pick to determine how to move the seat straps to different harness slots or positions using no-rethread harness systems. The harness straps of a rear facing car seat should be at or below the shoulders of your baby.
If you want to set up a car seat for a baby that has not arrived, consider choosing a car seat with the least number of harness sets. Once the baby is born, sit the baby in the car seat to determine the best working harness slots. Choose harness slots that are closest to the baby’s shoulders and avoid harnesses that are above the shoulders.
To avoid repositioning the straps wrongly, take a few snaps of the car seats front and back before un-threading the harness. This allows you to refer back to the photos to determine how the car seat should look once the harnesses have been threaded.
Check the Buckle Position
Some rear facing car seats feature a single crotch fastening and buckle point. The crotch strap is designed to come up between the legs of your baby. At the end of the crotch strap is the buckle. Most rear facing infant car seats with high weight limits have at least two buckle positions. The different buckle positions are designed to strap in newborns and accommodate grown infants.
You can change the buckle positions of an infant car seat by taking the strap out of one slot and moving it to a new one. Some rear facing infant car seats feature buckles with sliding mechanisms or push button systems that allow you to adjust the buckle position. Read the instruction manual of your infant car seat to find out how to adjust the seat and reposition buckles.
Loosening Baby Car Seat Harness Straps
Be sure to loosen the harness straps before placing the baby in his/her car seat. Most infant car seats feature a button or lever between the baby’s feet that allow you to loosen the harness.
The release mechanism is often hidden beneath a flap on some car seats. In such cases, lifting the flap will loosen the harness allowing you to push the lever underneath, and pull out the harness straps. Some infant car seats do not have front adjusters.
Your baby car seat manual should provide details on how to loosen or tighten the harness. Some rear facing car seats have rear adjust systems.
Placing the Baby in the Car Seat
Make sure the harness straps are pulled to the side and that the crotch strap and buckle are pulled forward before putting your baby in the rear-facing seat. Your baby’s bottom and back should lean against the seat.
When strapping in newborns, some space may still be left between the baby and the crotch strap. You may fill the space with a tightly rolled washcloth. Double check the seat for closer buckle positions in case there is still space.