5 Common Car Seat Mistakes

Did you know three out of four car seats are installed incorrectly? Many parents or caregivers unknowingly make simple car seat mistakes every day. AAA reveals how to steer clear of five of the most common child safety seat missteps. 
1. Turning Too Soon
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children remain rear-facing until they are at least 2 years old and continue in this position until they outgrow their seat. This provides more support to the head, neck, and spine, and is more than 500 percent safer than forward-facing seats.
2. Gadgetry
If the gadget (strap covers, head supports, mirrors, and toys) didn’t come with the car seat (or wasn’t purchased from the manufacturer to use with the seat), then it wasn’t crash-tested with the seat. Therefore, it’s not guaranteed to be safe and should not be used. 

3. Installing the Seat Too Loosely
Whether you install using LATCH anchors or the seat belt, a child safety seat needs to be tightly secured to the vehicle seat. The car seat should move less than 1 inch side to side. Once the child is secure, you shouldn’t be able to pinch any extra fabric on the harness straps and the chest clip should be positioned at armpit level.
4. Transitioning Too Soon
When children turn 5, after they grow out of their forward-facing seat, they can transition to a booster seat. Arizona requires children to remain in a booster seat until age 8 or until they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall and a seat belt fits them properly — the lap belt should rest snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach, and the shoulder belt should lie across the shoulder and chest, not across the neck or face. 
5. Not Replacing the Seat After a Crash
Many manufacturers recommend replacing a car seat even after a minor fender-bender. Never buy or accept a used car seat unless you are sure it has never been in a crash. It could be damaged in ways that aren’t visible. It’s safer to buy an affordable new seat than a name-brand, high-end used seat. All child restraints pass the same pass/fail crash tests, regardless of price point.