To start: I like to begin from the child’s bottom and move up, but as long as all these steps are fulfilled whichever order you choose is just fine.
1) Place the baby in the seat and buckle the crotch buckle over the hips.
2) The shoulder straps belong over the – you guessed it – shoulders. Be sure that the height of the harness is not taller than your baby’s torso; or, to put it a different way, make sure the harness is being fed into the shell of the seat at a level that is either even with your baby’s shoulder or slightly dipping below. If the harness webbing is above baby’s shoulders, adjust the height according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
|Straps belong below or even with the baby’s shoulder.|
3) Grasp the harness webbing just above the buckles and pull up towards baby’s face to take the slack out of the hips. At some point in your parenting career you will punch your baby in the face while doing this motion. Forgive yourself now.
4) Buckle the chest clip and move it down so that it’s just above the crotch buckle. This ensures that the chest clip isn’t in the way when you are taking slack out of the harness.
|Hopefully your baby won’t protest this much.|
5) Depending on the model of your seat you will either remove slack by pulling at the adjuster strap located near baby’s feet or tightening the harness webbing behind the seat next to the slot in the plastic shell. Most car seats on the market today have the adjuster strap.
6) To check for proper harness tightness, firmly press your thumb and finger along the harness webbing right at baby’s shoulder in a pinching motion. If you cannot pinch any slack right here, great! If you can, keep tightening the strap until you cannot.
7) Move the chest clip up so that it is even with baby’s armpits.
|Chest clip belongs on the sternum.|
8) You’re done! Give that baby a smooch and be on your way.
|Lucy is 8 weeks old here in a Nuna Rava.|
This (reluctant) model is 8 weeks old and weighs approximately 13lbs. She is in a Nuna Rava convertible car seat, which is designed to keep her rear-facing until she weighs 50lbs or is 49″ tall! Your car seat will have rules on when it is outgrown and these vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and even within the same brand. If your car seat was made after 2014 those rules will be printed on a sticker on the side of the seat; if your car seat was born in 2013 or earlier you’ll need to check your manual (or the FAQ section of the brand’s website) for this info. DO NOT push these limits. Car seats are outgrown in one of three ways: by standing height, torso height, and weight. When any one of these three limits are reached you must discontinue using the seat in that mode.
This is a great guide to share with any other caregivers in your life. If your child is transported by different people feel free to share this post with them!
Dana is the lucky mother to two incredible kids (aged 10 & 6) and the happy wife of Nate. She stumbled around in her adult life for a while before finally realizing that she could get paid to pursue her passion: keeping kids safe. In 2013 she started working at Modern Natural Baby in Ferndale where she eventually became a Child Passenger Safety Technician with additional Special Needs training. Dana also runs the child passenger safety-focused Facebook page Buckle Up Detroit and works with the amazing lady bosses at Metro Detroit Doula Services offering car seat classes, consultations, and more!