Car Seat Fitting & Installing Instructions

Car Seat Fitting & Installing

Fit & Installation

Just as every child is a different shape and size, so are vehicles. Certain car seats fit better in some vehicles more than others. What fits your neighbor’s vehicle may not fit yours. This is why we don’t encourage using second-hand seats.

It’s important you select a car seat that will accommodate your child’s growth needs, fits tightly in your vehicle and is easy to use. See the “Car Seats & Boosters” section for help choosing a car seat.

Below are tips on proper fit and installation of a car seat.

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All You Need to Know About Buckling Up in One Place

buckling up

Buckling Up Older Kids

Is your child ready for a seat belt?

One of the most common questions parents have is “When can my child ride in the car using just the adult seat belt?” Whether parents ask what is the law or what is safest for their child, our answer is always the same: “When the adult seat belt fits properly." That happens when you can answer YES to all five of these questions:

  • Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
  • Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat without slouching?
  • Does the shoulder belt cross the center of the shoulder and chest?
  • Does the lap belt fit low and snugly across the hips—touching the tops of the thighs—not up over the abdomen?
  • Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

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Car Seat FAQs – What You Need to Know to Keep Your Kids Safe in the Car

Car Seat FAQs

Young Children & Rear-Facing Seats

Why is riding rear-facing the safest way for young children to ride?


At birth, a child's head is large for its body and the bones are not fully hardened. In a 30 mile-per-hour crash into an immovable object, a 10-pound baby presses against the shell and padding of the seat with 300 pounds of force. Riding rear-facing provides more protection because the seat:

  • Keeps your child from being ejected from the car
  • Cradles the head, neck and spine
  • Spreads crash forces over a young child's back, the strongest part of their body.

If a child is placed forward-facing too soon, in a crash, the force of the baby's heavy head whipping forward can stretch the ligaments in the spinal column up to two inches, but the spinal cord can stretch only one-fourth of an inch. Severe head injury or paralysis may occur.

As long as children do not exceed the height or weight limits of their rear-facing child restraint the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children ride rear-facing to at least 2 years of age or until the child outgrows the rear-facing weight and height of their rear-facing only infant seat.

Read moreCar Seat FAQs – What You Need to Know to Keep Your Kids Safe in the Car