As parents, the thing we all have in common is our desire to protect our children the best we can. The use of a car seat ensures our children can travel safely while in the car. With so many different types of car seats on the market, it can get quite confusing ensuring that everything is installed and secured properly. We’ll identify 5 common mistakes and how to avoid them to ensure your little one’s safety:

1. The harness straps are too loose

The harness straps should be tight and snug leaving no more than enough room for your fingers to fit underneath. Also, the straps should not be around the belly button as it is typically considered too low.

The correct spot for the clip is right at armpit level. It is often that parents leave too much wiggle room. Make sure you have set the harness straps up correctly and that they are tight enough to pinch the harness straps at the shoulder, and if they wrinkle then they are too loose and will need to be adjusted.

2. Front-Facing too soon

It is very tempting to want to turn your child around after they begin to grow, but this can do more harm than good if it done too soon. There is no specific age that is recommended for a child to be turned forward, it ultimately relies on when your child reaches the height and weight capacity of the car seat.

Keeping your child rear-facing keeps them safer if you were to ever get in a crash because it allows the force of the crash to be distributed over a wider range of area, and it keeps their head and neck from being thrown forward.

3. Seat is too loose

Once you get the car seat set up in the car it is important to do the inch test. The inch test will ensure that the seat isn’t too loose and ensure that all the safety standards are met. To perform the inch test, begin to tug on the bottom base where the vehicle seat connects with the car seat base. It should not move more than an inch from right to left or front to back. If it does move further than an inch then it will need to be tightened.

4. Childs coat changes strap fit

In the winter we tend to put our children in the warmest coat we can find. It isn’t a problem until you try to strap them into the car seat! A puffy and heavy coat can pose an issue with strapping your child into their car seat because it leaves too much space between your child and the straps. The coat can also cause your child to overheat and get too warm.

Some tips if your child must have a coat are to wear the coat backwards, that way you can just simply take the coat off when you get them in the car seat or place a blanket over the harness once the child is strapped in safely.

5. Incorrect angle

It is important that the car seat is at the right angle. If the car seat is too upright it can flop their head forward and also make it hard for the child to get air causing the airway to be blocked; if it is too low it can compromise their safety if there was a crash. Most car seats are now equipped with an angle indicator that shows where the angle should be when your child is facing towards the rear or forward.


As with all things parenting – we learn as we go. Learning how to use your child’s car seat is just another item on the list!

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Shamara Glover
Marketing Assistant
Shamara joined Rockford Mutual in November of 2019 with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Robert Morris University in Chicago.