9 Simple & Common Mistakes Parents Make When Using Car Seats

Common Mistakes Parents Make
9 Simple and Common Mistakes Parents Make When Using Car Seats is a post that I thought was important to write out. I’d like to preface this post by saying this, I’m not trying to be a know it all, or a one upper by this posting. I’m simply trying to spread this information to parents and caregivers who may not know! It does NOT make you a bad parent if you do any of these, just be thankful your children are still here, and educate yourself on the matter and do better. Once we know better, we do better, right? I have done my research and I’m very passionate about car seat safety; getting the word out there is very very important to me. If you have any doubts in this information, please refer to your car seat manual you received with your car seat.

1 – The chest clip is just that, it does NOT go on the belly. It needs to be in the mid to upper chest area, I usually do even with the armpits.

* The chest clip is designed to make sure the harness straps are placed on the shoulders properly. The harness is what keeps your child restrained in their seat during an accident. If you have the chest clip on the belly, if in an accident, their internal organs could be severely damaged from the chest clip.

2 – The harness straps MUST be tight. You can not have any slack in the harness straps. Try to pinch the harness straps, if you have any extra slack, you must tighten them.

* Again, if the harness is not completely tight, it could fall of your child’s shoulder in the event of an accident and your child could be ejected from their seat. Also, don’t make it completely tight that it leaves imprints on your child’s body. It should be comfortable, but snug as a hug!

3 – When rear-facing the harness straps must be AT or BELOW your child’s shoulders. When forward-facing, straps must be AT or ABOVE your child’s shoulders.

* Most car accidents are when a vehicle is moving forward, so when your child is rear facing it’s important that the straps are at or below their shoulders to prevent your child from sliding upward. When forward facing they should be at or above because they child will be thrown forward in event of a crash, and this will decrease the distance your child moves (see why it’s important for the straps to be tight).

4 – Harness straps should NEVER be twisted.

* Harness straps are not meant to be twisted. They are meant to protect your child in the event of a crash, so twisting them reduces the surface area that is restrained and the distribution of force of impact would not be even.

5 – Do NOT submerge the harness straps in water. They must be spot cleaned with water and a mild detergent.

* Straps must not be submerged in water or cleaners of any kind because they are actually coated with a fire retardant. Not only that, they may be weakened by any water or soaps/detergents you use if you submerge them. You wouldn’t want to weaken the fibers since the straps are meant to hold your child in in the even of a crash. IF you have already made this mistake, you can call the company and they will more than likely send you a new set of car seat harness straps, at little to not cost to you.

6 – Bulky Winter coats should never be worn while your child is in a car seat.

* Winter coats will compress in the event of an accident. Just like if you put them in storage bags for Spring/Summer, and suck out all the air, you can see that they compress. It’s no different in an accident. The force of an accident will make them compress and your child can easily slip out of their harness or be ejected. I’ve seen a lot of argument on this, yes it’s cold out, snowy and icy. Warm your car up prior to taking your child(ren) out, have a blanket for them in the car, or a car seat poncho which goes over the straps. Your child can wear thin fleece in their seats, which is warm, and just throw a blanket over top after they are buckled.

7 – Don’t move your child to the next car seat just because they meet the minimum requirements.

* Just because the minimum law in your state may be 20lbs to forward face your child, that doesn’t mean you should do it. It takes awhile for baby’s necks and backs to become strong, and strong enough to take the force of a forward facing accident. There are quite a few videos/blog posts of children who have been internally decapitated from forward facing early and being involved in an accident.
When moving to a booster seat with just a seat belt, there are a lot of factors in this. While the law may be 40lbs (in some states), is your child mature enough to sit up straight 100% of the time? Can they sleep while sitting up without leaning? Do they know they can’t lean forward or reach for items? All of those are factors too. Just because a law is a minimum does not mean that’s a milestone for our children. Do the maximum for your child! That’s why car seats are being developed with higher limits, to keep them safer.

8 – Do NOT use aftermarket products with your seat.

* If they did NOT come with your seat, it’s not meant to be used with your seat. Some things are made by the actual manufacturer of your seat and you can use those, but read your manual to check first. Now all those strap covers, pee pads, seat protectors, frilly infant seat covers, etc are not supposed to be used. They have not been safety tested with your seat and can possibly hurt your child more than help your child. Your manual will tell you not to use aftermarket products as well. When your seat was safety tested, it was tested ONLY with the products it comes with whether it be the company’s strap covers or infant insert, other products have not been tested.

9 – Drum roll for the NUMBER ONE mistake most parents make – For ALL of the above to work, your car seat MUST be installed correctly and tight.

* Your car seat should be installed tight, and level with any guides on your seat. If you’re installing forward facing, make sure to hook on the tether to the anchor behind the seat. A car seat should not move more than one inch side to side. If it does, you do NOT have a tight installation. Put your weight into the seat and tighten that LATCH or seat belt.


If you’d like a more in depth look to car seat safety check out our post – Important Car Seat Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Kids.
It has pictures and a lot of information if you’re interested in learning more about car seat safety.

Here are some of the car seat reviews we have done which will show my girls in different seats and their limits in each one.
Britax Pavilion 70-G3
Chicco KeyFit 30
Britax Pioneer 70
Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air
Recaro Performance Ride
Evenflo Pro-Comfort Symphony DLX
Safety 1st Elite 80
Recaro Performance Sport
Kiddy USA Cruiserfix Pro

Did you learn anything from this post?
Were you making any of these mistakes that you have now fixed?


  1. Such an important post. Thanks for sharing for all new moms or moms of younger children.

  2. Joanne Gregory says:

    It is so important for caregivers to know how to properly use the car seat! Great article!

  3. Karen Jaras says:

    So glad they were not so hard to use when my kids were young. Now my grandkids know how to buckle themselves in so I do not need to crawl around the back seat.

  4. I learned all of these rules after my 2nd child was born. Thank God we never had an accident before that. Another one that wasn’t mentioned is that all forward facing seats need to be tethered now. My kids can’t ride in my parents’ car because their car is too old to have tethers.

  5. Thanks so much on your review on 9 Simple & Common Mistakes Parents Make When Using Car Seats! This was a very informative posting! I don’t have to deal with car seats now. When my Grandkids are here, my daughter will put their car seats into the car and make sure they are tight and ready to go! This is very good informative information for people who are first time parents, or for people who use car seats every day with their children! Thanks so much for sharing your review, the pictures, and all the personal and professional information on 9 Simple & Common Mistakes Parents Make When Using Car Seats with all of us! I honestly do appreciate it! Thanks again! Michele 🙂

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