The Ultimate Car Seat Checklist

Editor’s Note: A while back, I wrote a post on when to turn the car seat. I was the worst possible person to write this post since I find the whole topic confusing, but that’s why I wanted to write it. The rules have changed between each one of my three kids, and on top of that, you get folks both in person and on the Internet giving out wrong information regularly. So the car seat authority from Mom’s Milk Boutique offered to set me straight and help our readers cut through the confusing info since they also sell car seats and are kind of experts on the topic. And so we bring you Car Seat Redux:

Did you know that 73% of car seats are not used or properly installed?

Now that you know, let’s check yours together:

1. Is your car seat expired or recalled?
Check the stickers on the car seat itself or call the manufacturer.

2. Are you using the proper car seat for your child?

  • Do they meet the height and weight requirements for the seat?
  • By weight AND age, should they be forward facing or rear facing?

It is recommended that a child be rear facing until age 2 AND 40 lbs. Children should be in a 5-point harness until they exceed the weight limit of their seat.

3. No children under age 12 should be in the front seat. No car seats should be in the front seat.

4. A list of NEVERS:

  • NEVER use aftermarket accessories.
  • NO covers.
  • NO mats unless tested with the car seat (Diono tests theirs).
  • NO hanging toys.
  • NOTHING between the baby and the car seat (unless it came with the car seat).
  • NOTHING between the car seat and the car’s seat.
  • NEVER submerge your car seat in water.
  • NEVER wash your harness straps–only wipe clean with a damp rag or towel.

5. A list of DO’S:

  • DO check the harness EVERY time you place your child in the car seat to ensure proper fit.
  • DO check the LATCH system or seat belt holding the car seat in EVERY time you use the seat.
  • DO check for visible sun damage, which can cause the plastic to break down.
  • DO check around the seat for choking hazards.(dropped food or toy items)
  • DO come up with a system which reminds you that your child is in the back seat of the vehicle: wallet, key fob, purse, phone, or any other item that you would not leave your car without.

6. With winter coming (already here in some places) please remember that coats and car seats don’t mix!

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One Response to “The Ultimate Car Seat Checklist”

  1. Nalaablaze says:

    I would also add to the list of Never’s:
    *Never use a seat that is used/you don’t know the history of or that doesn’t have/can’t get the manual. A used seat could have been in an accident, the straps could have been improperly cleaned, and without the manual you don’t know how to install it properly.
    *Never install the child safety seat using LATCH and the seat belt. Only one method of installation should be used. Ensure that the seat belt or LATCH is routed through the proper slot in the seat based on whether the seat is rear-facing or forward-facing.

    And to the list of “Do’s”:
    * Secure all loose objects such as purses, toys, waterbottles so that they don’t become projectiles.
    * Do remember to use the tether when installing a child safety seat forward facing. Tethers decrease how far the child’s head moves forward in a crash by 6-8 inches.
    *Be sure to check the new regulations regarding 2014 changes to weight limits for using LATCH installation. The new regulations take into account both the weight of the child restraint and the weight of the child and may supersede what’s on the car seat/in the seat manual (for seats made prior to 2014).