A baby's safety is of utmost importance to her parents, particularly in the car. Properly installed car seats keep infants warm and snug when they travel and, more importantly, can save a child's life when accidents occur. The installation of the infant's seat ultimately depends upon the type of vehicle the family is driving. If the vehicle is equipped with the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system, installation may progress easily. You can still safely install infant seats without a LATCH system, as long as you understand where in the vehicle your infant's seat will best protect her and how to use the existing safety belt to install the seat.
Use the center of the back seat whenever possible. Children positioned in the center of the vehicle are 43 percent safer from injury when involved in an accident, according to The Car Seat Lady. If the LATCH system is not present in the vehicle's center, using the existing safety belt is still preferable to positioning a child on either side of the car.
Position the car's existing seats for your comfort when installing infant seats. The Car Seat Lady suggests moving the front seat to its forward-most position to provide ample work space. Whenever possible, recline the rear seat where the infant will ride before installing the car seat. Once the seat is installed, return the vehicle seat to its starting position for a snug fit.
Locate and uncover the LATCH belts and infant seat belts and pull them to the inside of the child seat. Locate the LATCH anchors between the crack of the vehicle seat and the back rest. Attach the lower anchor straps on the child seat to the LATCH anchors. Parents can read their vehicle's safety manual if they aren't sure where the anchors are located. Some automobile manufacturers will install tether and lower anchors in older cars.
Use the vehicle safety belt when the LATCH system is not available or when installing an infant seat without a base. The Car Seat Lady says parents should run the lap or shoulder belt through the hole located just underneath where the child's legs should go. Once the belt is buckled, pull the shoulder belt out completely until the belt's lock mechanism engages. Route the shoulder belt behind the back of the car seat and place it inside the keeper next to the blue sticker. Once the infant seat is in the reclined position, you can take the slack out of the shoulder belt.
Apply your weight to secure the seat and tighten the straps. The Car Seat Lady suggests placing a knee on the base of a rear-facing infant seat as you pull the lower anchor strap tight. Alternating weight from right to left as you pull the strap ensures a snug fit. For convertible seats, rock the seat back and forth while it is braced against your stomach, tightening the strap as you do so.