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Car seat installation: Make sure your baby's safe

By the editors of Babytalk
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(Parenting.comexternal link) -- Of course you have a car safety seat, but are you using it properly? The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates misuse to be as high as 80 percent.

Here's a quick checkup you can do, from Donna Braden, a certified NHTSA child safety seat inspector.

Make sure the seat won't move more than an inch from front to back or side to side. If it does, tighten the seat belt that's holding it in place.

Check the gauge on the side of the safety seat to make sure it's sitting at a 45-degree angle. If your seat won't let you adjust its angle, level it off by positioning a rolled-up towel in the crack where your car's seat and back meet. Once the seat is installed, here's how to fasten in your baby:

  • The harness straps on a rear-facing seat should be at or just below your baby's shoulders. Move them to the appropriate slots as she grows.
  • The handle of the infant seat should be in the down or closed position (behind the baby's head)
  • The chest clip should be positioned at your baby's armpits.
  • Only one finger should fit between the harness straps and her chest.
  • Want to be doubly sure? Go to nhtsa.govexternal link and enter your zip code to find a free child safety seat inspection station near you.

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    Copyright 2006 PARENTING magazine. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


    Check your car seat to make sure it's properly installed and that baby is fastened correctly.


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