How to Install Infant Car Seats

Look at the tips and videos below on how to install infant car seats tightly in your vehicle. The car seat manual, as well as the vehicle owner's manual, will provide you with the best guidance for installing the car seat in your vehicle.

installing infant car seats

    Installation with Seat Belt



    Infant car seats can only be used in the rear-facing position, and must never be placed forward-facing in a vehicle.


    Installing the Car Seat Base:
    • Before you install, read your car seat instruction manual and your vehicle's owner manual. Pay close attention to the information about your vehicle's seat belt system, and how to "lock" the seat belt. Every seat and vehicle is different, which affects the way you'll install your particular seat.
    • Place the car seat base in the back seat of your vehicle.
    • Carefully thread the seat belt through the rear-facing belt path. Check to make sure there are no twists in the seat belt.
    • Buckle the seat belt.
    • Lock the seat belt.
    • Press down firmly on the car seat base and tighten.
      • The base should not move side-to-side or front-to-back more than 1 inch.
    • Make sure your car seat base is installed at the correct recline angle.
      • Babies must ride sitting semi-reclined to keep the airway open.
      • Most infant car seats have built-in angle indicators or adjustors to assist you.
      • As your child grows the angle may need to be adjusted, so be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions.
    • Attach the infant carrier to the base.

    Fitting Your Child Correctly in the Car Seat:
    • Place your child in the car seat with the child's back flat against the car seat.
    • Place harness straps over the child's shoulders. Harness straps should lie flat, not twisted, and be placed through the slots located at or below your child's shoulders.
    • Buckle the harness, and the chest clip, and tighten until snug. The harness is snug enough when you cannot pinch any extra material at the shoulder.
      • Bulky clothing or blankets can prevent a snug harness fit. Always buckle the baby in the seat first, and then place coats or blankets over the harness.
      • If your baby needs support, fill the empty spaces with small, rolled blankets on each side of the baby's shoulders and head.
      • If there is a gap between the buckle and your child's groin (common for young infants), try placing a rolled washcloth or diaper in the space for a more secure fit.
    • Place chest clip at armpit level. This holds the harness straps in place on the child's chest and shoulders.
    Best Practice:

    When your child outgrows the infant car seat, switch to a convertible, 3-in-1 or All-in-One car seat and use it in the rear-facing position. These seats typically have weight and height limits for the rear-facing position that allow you to keep your child rear-facing longer. If a baby under 1 year old grows too tall or too heavy for an infant car seat, a car seat with a higher rear-facing size limit is strongly recommended.

    Rear-Facing Infant Car Seat With Seat Belt

    Installation with LATCH

    LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. This system is designed to help make proper car seat installation easier. Both the vehicle and the car seat need to be LATCH-equipped in order to use the system.

    The lower anchors are those small metal bars found in many vehicles' back seats. Adjustable lower straps (sometimes called "LATCH straps") are connected from the car seat to the lower anchors to secure the car seat. All car seats should use the top tether strap in the forward-facing position. Some manufacturers recommend using the top tether strap with a rear-facing seat, as well.

    Before you install your car seat using the LATCH system, read your car seat instruction manual and your vehicle's owner manual carefully. Pay close attention on the location of the lower anchors and top tether anchor and directions on how to use this installation system in your vehicle. Every car seat is different and every vehicle is different, which affects the way you'll install your particular seat.

    Also, keep in mind that your vehicle's LATCH system may have a weight limit that differs from that of the car seat. If that's the case, you can first install the seat using the LATCH system, then switch to seat belt installation later. Always follow the installation instructions provided by your car seat manufacturer and your vehicle owner's manual.



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    Installing the Car Seat Base:
    • Before you install the rear-facing infant car seat using the lower anchors of the LATCH system, read your car seat instruction manual and your vehicle's owner manual carefully. Pay close attention to the location of the lower anchors, and directions on how to use this installation system in your vehicle.
    • Place the car seat base in the back seat of your vehicle. In a crash, the back seat is the safest place to be and rear-facing car seats give your child's head, neck and spine extra protection.
    • Locate the lower anchors in your vehicle.
    • Attach the lower straps on the car seat base to the lower anchors, making sure the straps aren't twisted.
    • Press down firmly on the car seat base and tighten the straps.
      • You should not be able to move the car seat base side-to-side or front-to-back more than 1 inch.
    • Make sure your base is installed at the correct recline angle.
      • Babies must ride sitting semi-reclined to keep the airway open.
      • Most infant car seats have built-in angle indicators or adjustors to assist you.
      • As your child grows the angle may need to be adjusted, so be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions.
    • Attach the infant carrier to the base.
    Fitting Your Child Correctly in the Car Seat:
    • Place your child in the car seat with the child's back flat against the car seat.
    • Place harness straps over the child's shoulders. Harness straps should lie flat, not twisted, and be placed through the slots located at or below your child's shoulders.
    • Buckle the harness, and the chest clip, and tighten until snug. The harness is snug enough when you cannot pinch any extra material at the shoulder.
      • Bulky clothing or blankets can prevent a snug harness fit. Always buckle the baby in the seat first, and then place coats or blankets over the harness.
      • If your baby needs support, fill the empty spaces with small, rolled blankets on each side of the baby's shoulders and head.
      • If there is a gap between the buckle and your child's groin (common for young infants), try placing a rolled washcloth or diaper in the space for a more secure fit.
    • Place chest clip at armpit level. This holds the harness straps in place on the child's chest and shoulders.
    Best Practice:

    When your child outgrows the infant (rear-facing only) car seat switch to a convertible, 3-in-1 or All-in-One car seat, and use it in the rear-facing position. These seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing longer. If a baby under 1 year old grows too tall or too heavy for an infant car seat, a car seat with a higher rear-facing size limit is strongly recommended.

    Rear-Facing Infant Car Seat With LATCH