Are You Guilty of Any of These 5 Car Seat Mistakes?

Car seat
Precious cargo on board! Handle with care!

I’ll never forget riding home from the hospital after the birth of my first daughter. Although my husband was driving well under the speed limit, it still felt like he was competing in the Daytona 500. It made me want to live somewhere in which I never had to put my baby in the car again so I could protect her from the big, bad world of tires and metal.

Since that didn’t exactly prove to be feasible, we made it our mission to ensure that each and every time we put her (and now our younger daughter, too) in the car, it was in the safest possible manner. And yet we’ve still managed to screw it up on occasion — whether it’s because we’ve installed a new car seat incorrectly or buckled one of them in haphazardly, a few mistakes have been made over the years.

If you’re like us, you’re probably guilty of a few car seat errors, too. Here are 5 common ones that many parents make, but can avoid with just a little thought or planning (via

  • Used car seats 1 of 5
    Used car seats
    Secondhand seats are not preferable, but they're also not entirely a no-no — whether you get the used car seat from someone you know or you bought it from a thrift store. If you must use a used one, ensure that you have the original instructions so can install it properly, be 100 percent positive it has never been in a car that was involved in a crash (unseen damage is a serious safety hazard), check that all parts are in tact, and look up the model and serial number to be sure it hasn't been recalled.
    Also, car seats that are more than 5 years old are not advised, as aging seat belts can be hazardous, according to SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. Additionally, plastic parts can become brittle with age, so an older car seat could prove to be less effective in the event of an accident.
    Get more info here
  • Unsecured car seats 2 of 5
    Unsecured car seats
    Sure, you know to buckle your baby into the car seat. But you'd be surprised how many parents forget to install the car seat into the car. Whether you just forgot to do it or you didn't actually know to do it, now you know — the car seat must be strapped into the car according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Incorrect installation 3 of 5
    Incorrect installation
    According to the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, three out of every four car seats are installed incorrectly. Whether the seat isn't in tightly enough or the tethers and anchors (LATCH system) are used incorrectly or not at all, be sure that the seat is in exactly as the manufacturer's guidelines instruct. If you're not sure if you did it correctly, contact your local police department and see if they have someone qualified to double check your installation.
    Get more info here
  • ‘Oh, she’ll be fine . . . just this once.’ 4 of 5
    'Oh, she'll be fine . . . just this once.'
    No matter if you're just going down the street or if it's late at night and you know the roads will be empty, children under the age of 3 must be in a car seat at all times. No exceptions!
    Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for children in the United States, and the injuries are in the tens of thousands each year. Using a seat correctly and consistently means you are serious about keeping your child safe while you or someone else is behind the well. Every. Single. Time.
    Get more info here
  • Under 2-years-old and face forward 5 of 5
    Under 2-years-old and face forward
    It's a bummer for toddlers when they can't turn around in their car seat before the age of 2. They're legs might be cramped, and they're likely bored staring at the seat back while everyone else gets to look out the front. But it's not an arbitrary rule. In many states, it's the law.
    Babies and toddlers have weak necks, which could mean a terrible spinal injury in the event of a head-on collision. By keeping them rear-facing until their little bodies are more developed (which is, by age 2, or when they reach the maximum height and weight for their car seat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics), you are keeping them much safer and more secure.
    Get more info here

For six additional common car seats mistakes, head over to

Photo credits: iStock

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