5 Car Seat Installation Tips from a Child Safety Technician

Child car seats are mandatory in all 50 states, and yet the most common cause of unintentional injury for children under the age of 15 is still car accidents. 

As a certified child safety technician and founder of Tot Squad, I’m here to offer you some critical info for installing your car seat correctly. 

These are the 5 things I always keep in mind!


Tip #1: Adjust the harness straps first

Most child car seats require that you adjust the harness straps manually through the back of the seat. That means it’s important to adjust them before you actually install it.

Ensure you adjust the harness straps to the appropriate level according to your child’s shoulder height. How? 

  • In the rear-facing position, the harness straps should be at or just below their shoulders. 
  • In the forward-facing position, they should be at or just above their shoulders. 


Tip #2: Tighten the seat down 

Once you have the tethers, straps, or seat belt in place, tighten the entire child seat down to the actual seat of the car as required. 

If you use the seatbelt to install your car seat, make sure to lock it by pulling the belt all the way out until you hear a click. Then feed the seat belt back as much as you can, until your seat is secure. 

When secured, you should not be able to pinch the harness between two fingers.


Tip #3: Chest clip at the chest, not tummy

Remember the chest clip always goes at armpit level, not near the abdomen!  


Tip #4: Do the head or ear height check

When using a rear-facing infant and convertible seat, there should be at least an inch from the top of the car seat to the top of the child’s head. 

In a forward-facing convertible seat, the tops of their ears should not be above the top of the car seat shell or head restraint. 


Tip#5: Make the crotch buckle is snug, but still comfy

Many car seats have multiple slots for the crotch buckle to accommodate growing kids. 

With small newborns, an infant insert or small rolled blanket should help make sure there is no excess space between the body and the crotch buckle. 

As your child grows, they may be more comfortable if the crotch buckle is snug in FRONT of their body, not under it.



Not sure if your car seat is installed properly? Consider booking a seat check with one of Tot Squad’s certified child passenger technicians. Tot Squad also provides a virtual safety school.  It’s a 45-minute lesson on how to successfully install your car seat, how to properly use it, and additional tips and guidance!


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This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The views expressed in this article are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Kudos.

About the author

Jennifer Saxton is the founder and CEO of Tot Squad, a digital marketplace connecting parents with providers that help make parenting just a little bit easier. From lactation consultants to birth doulas, car seat installation and sleep support, Tot Squad’s marketplace of vetted experts provide parents with peace of mind by connecting them to expert providers. After receiving her MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Jen launched Tot Squad, initially as a baby gear cleaning and repair business. In early 2020, that segment of the business was acquired, paving the way for growth of the brand’s new digital footprint. Jen has been featured on CNBC, Fast Company, Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek and The Doctors but none of her accomplishments make her as proud as her daughter, Charlotte, who was born in September 2018. https://totsquad.com/

Questions? Email us at hello@mykudos.com

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