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Get the latest carseat news here: recalls, conference updates and other child passenger safety current events.

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Common Mistakes

Three of the most common mistakes seen at checkup events are (in no particular order): carseat installed too loosely, harness is too loose on child and chest clip is too low on child.

Correct Harness Use

Using a harness incorrectly is one of the most common mistakes parents and caregivers make when using a carseat. Read your owner's manual to determine proper harness use. Pay careful attention to what the manufacturer of your seat says is the maximum weight limit for the harness as it's used, i.e. rear-facing weight limit or forward-facing weight limit. The pictures seen here are meant to be used as a supplement to your manual.

What is a snug harness? Per federal requirements, current instruction manuals define a snug harness as: "A snug strap should not allow any slack. It lies in a relatively straight line without sagging. It does not press on the child's flesh or push the child's body into an unnatural position." The vast majority of parents and caregivers still leave the harness too loose, even given these guidelines. Think about snugness as "snug as a hug from a friend." Find your seat type below and use these guidelines in conjunction with the carseat manual to properly secure your child.

Rear-Facing Seats

Click here to see when a rear-facing seat is outgrown.

Forward-Facing Seats

Click here to see when a forward-facing seat is outgrown.

Booster Seats

Click here to see when a booster seat is outgrown.

Pinch Test

If you can pinch a fold in the harness above the chest clip, it is too loose. The following picture shows a harness that is too loose:

Coats in Carseats

The following pictures show the dangers of dressing a child in a thick coat in a carseat. A thick coat doesn't allow the harness to be snug against a child's body. In a crash, the coat will compress and leave slack in the harness. This slack could be enough for the child to be ejected from the carseat.

Here's a good blog article showing more pictures of children wearing thick coats and why kids can be ejected from carseats when they wear them.

Carseats Made Easy

How do you keep a child warm in a carseat?

If the child is in an infant seat, use a shower cap-style cover that doesn't put anything under the child. Dress the baby in layers and after the baby is strapped snugly in the carseat, layer blankets on top. Once the child is in a convertible seat or booster seat, dress the child in polar fleece. It's very warm and thin. You can also buckle the child in first, then put the coat on backward. Keep plenty of blankets in the vehicle for everyone! Another option is a Carseat Poncho. It's made of a thick polar fleece or velvet and comes in kid-friendly colors.