Common Car Seat Setup Mistakes

Sometimes even very experienced parents or caretakers can make mistakes in car seat setup. It’s important to double-check and remain ever-vigilant as the child grows that the car seat is always fitted properly to their bodies. Here we outline the most common mistakes made by parents in their daily car seat usage with their children.


Some mistakes and how to correct them

  1. Tightness of the installation

When the seat is properly in place, it should not be able to move more than one inch in any direction. You can check this by gripping the sides of the seat and trying to wiggle them, and checking how much leeway there is. If there is more than one inch, your seat is not secure enough and needs to be tightened further.

  1. Prematurely turning the car seat around

Children should ride in rear-facing car seats until they reach 2 years of age, or grow past a specified height and weight (see our past article for reference on which type of child seat your child should be using currently). Many parents would prefer to see the faces of their children, which can lead to prematurely rotating the seat. Be conscious of your child’s age, height and weight, and refer to tell you when the appropriate time is to move the seat, and do not do so beforehand, as tempting as it may be to watch your child more as you drive. It is not worth the safety risk.

  1. Failure to fasten the car seat top tether

The top tether is one of the most ignored safety considerations in a car. The main objective for this tether is to keep the car seat from falling forward in the event of an accident. Sometimes even when the top tether is attached, it isn’t done so correctly.

Each car sold past 2001 has trio of anchor points, and therefore rotating the car seat should be followed by fastening the tether appropriately.

  1. Should harness left too loose

You do not want to leave the shoulder harness loose, or fail to position the chest clip at the recommended height (armpit level). The shoulder straps also need to remain untangled. They should be flush against the toddler’s chest, snug, so that it does not hurt them but is firmly attached.

  1. Confirming if the child has outgrown their car seat

Children grow so fast. Always confirm that the straps are situated at or above the child’s shoulders when they are on the forward facing seats and the headrest adjusted. Keep checking and adjusting the straps and settings as your child grows, and sure the child is always fitted correctly for the age, height and weight.


If you have any concern at all that you may not have your car seat set up correctly for your child, contact your local fire department, or other car seat check point! They will be more than happy to take a look and help you get the setup that is safest for your family.