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7 Most Common Mistakes When Installing a Car Seat

The WAYB Team is full of Child Passenger Safety Technicians (or CPSTs), which was something that was extremely important to us when it came to our firstborn, the WAYB Pico Car Seat. We wanted to be able to speak to our products as not only cognizant designers, knowledgeable Customer Experience Specialists, and so forth, but as fully certified techs as well, throughout the entire design process and beyond. 

We’ve been in the trenches when it comes to installing (and re-installing) seats, so we wanted to share some of our tips when it comes to the most common mistakes you can make in installing any child restraint (and how best to avoid them):

  1. Too Loose - If the harness, seatbelt, or LATCH system are too loose, your car seat isn’t going to work the way it’s intended. The harness should fit snugly around your little one. To ensure it’s snug enough, do the pinch test - pinch the webbing vertically at their shoulders with two fingers, and if you can’t get a good grip, that means it’s snug enough. If you get a good pinch of fabric, tighten up! And whether you choose to install your car seat via seat belt or LATCH, you should not be able to move the car seat more than one inch in any direction. Always do the wiggle test at the belt path before securing your child in his or her seat.
  2. Twisting - We definitely understand the struggle of getting some of our energetic kiddos into their seats without some twisting, but you always want to make sure your seat belt is right side up and untwisted along the length of the belt path. And similarly, you want to make sure the harness isn’t twisted around your kiddo or where it’s clipped in between his or her legs. So check for twisting both before and after securing your child in the seat.
  3. Adding Extra Stuff - It’s important not to add that extra blankie cushion around your little one or dangle a toy off the side of the frame, no matter how fun it looks, unsanctioned items (i.e. items that aren’t approved in the manual) can be a danger to your child and the safety the car seat provides as that set up was not in effect when the seat was being tested for NHTSA and FAA approval. So when in doubt, go without those extra, unapproved items. This also goes for unnecessary layers. That winter coat might be cozy, but in reality it’s adding bulk underneath the harness, which means your kiddo isn’t as secure and snug as you think. It’s best to take off big layers before securing your child in their seat.
  4. Chest Clip Positioned Wrong - The chest clip should always be positioned at armpit level. And the shoulder straps should be at or above the shoulders for a forward-facing car seat (they should be at or below for a rear-facing seat). Feel free to keep the chest clip low when you're securing your child in the seat, but once buckled in, be sure to raise it to that recommended armpit level before you head to the driver's seat.
  5. Tether Missing - Always use the tether when available. A tether is not always required with every seat (We require it with the Pico unless a tether anchor is truly unavailable), but it’s so much safer and always recommended! To make sure your little one is as safe as possible, pull out all the stops and install that tether.
  6. Sleepytime Outside of Travel - Letting your tiny human sleep in the seat outside of a car or plane is not what the car seat was made for and is not safe. It’s easy to topple over when the seat is not installed, and that can harm your little one. Make sure the car seat is used as a car (or plane) seat, not an indoor seat.
  7. Total (or Partial) Recall - Your seat (or a component) has been recalled, and you don’t know it. It’s super important to register your car seat in case of a recall. You can always check the NHTSA database for Safety Issues & Recalls. And you can register your Pico Car Seat here.

For more resources and videos on how to best secure your little one in the Pico Car Seat, please visit our Resources page.

Installing the WAYB Pico Car Seat