5 Common Car Seat Mistakes

We all know the obvious things about car seats as in, children need to ride in the backseat, and make sure that the harness is tight, with no slack, etc. But below are some not-so-obvious ways to keep your child even safer in their car seat.

5 Common Car Seat Mistakes 1 Daily Mom, Magazine For Families{Photo credit: The Art of Making a Baby}

1. Placement of car seat

  • Car seats need to be as far away from airbags as possible, which is why they are always to be used in the backseat. What some people don’t know though, is that it is safest for the car seat to be placed in the middle seat, away from either doors. “Child occupants seated in the center had an injury risk 43% less than children seated in either of the rear outboard positions.” (Source) If you have the ability to place them in the center seat, do so. The added bonus is that you still have two full-sized seating options for other riders in the backseat.

2. Do not use bulky coats while child is in the car seat

  • The puffy jackets or snowsuits can hinder the effectiveness of the safety harness. Place your child in their car seat wearing a light jacket, or sweatshirt, and a hat, and use blankets to keep them warm, instead of their coats.

3. Keeping loose items in the car.

  • Any item in the car can become dangerous projectiles if you were in an accident. Do you keep your windshield scraper on the backseat floor? How about your laptop bag? Secure everything as much as possible. Check into getting a backseat organizer to keep everything secure.

4. Using aftermarket accessories

  • Plain and simple, if it didn’t come with the car seat right out of the package, avoid it. Using items such as strap protectors (you know, those adorable little puppy heads that keep the strap from irritating the baby’s skin?) or head stabilizers, may actually void the warranty from the manufacturer. If your car seat came with an infant insert, that means that it has been tested and is approved for use.
  • As it gets colder, parents turn more often towards bunting items. Try to find items that go over the car seat (“shower cap” style) and do not interfere with the harness placement. If having this item is a necessity, watch for the thickness on the under-side. If you have to loosen the harness considerably (as in, more than you would have to for a regular light-weight jacket) think twice. Once again, check your manufacturer’s warranty for specifics.

5. Read your specific car seat manual

  • Many suggestions or recommendations are made for proper car seat usage. Consult your specific manual to see where the straps should be placed, or at what angle to place it, etc. There is a ton of good and useful information in it, and so often it gets misplaced or discarded immediately after installation, you should know car seat history and possibly read everything concerning it.




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Megan lives in Michigan with her husband, daughter, and son. Her days are spent hanging out and doing family projects on her real-life farm, and spending time on the Great Lakes. She loves swimming, celebrity gossip, University of Michigan and Denver Broncos football, trashy reality TV, and writing. In addition to being a Mommy and self-proclaimed urban-farmer, she owns a photography business located in Southeast Michigan, Memoirs Photography, and is a partner in a niche Michigan wedding photographer team called Mulberry & Sage.


  1. This is great, i think a lot of mom’s (and dads!) use carseats wrong, it always makes me nervous when i see pictures of kids in carseats that are improperly strapped in. The only thing that i wonder is about the “puffy/bulky coats” i live in MN and don’t have a garage so we walk to the street to our car whenever we go somewhere. Have these carseat designers ever been to the frozen tundra-Minnesota??? it gets to be -10 (thats NEGATIVE 10) sometimes COLDER every January and February. I would never allow my children to walk even to the car in a light coat or sweatshirt in that weather. Puffy/bulky coats are an absolute MUST here. I tighten them as much as i can but seriously….heavy coats are a must. although we honestly don’t go places much when its that cold out :).

  2. Regarding the middle seat being safest – that is not ALWAYS the case. Some car manuals specifically advise against using the middle seat (usually but not always when the middle seat folds down for trunk access or as a arm rest, they advise against it), and for many cars you can’t get a good fit in the middle. It would be more accurate to say that, “If allowed in your car and if you can get a good fit, the middle is safer than the sides.” As a car seat safety fanatic, I’ve seen many sites proclaim the middle to be the safest, and many people blindly follow that advice not realizing that they need to check the manual for their specific car prior to putting them in the middle.

  3. Thanks for your comment, Lara. I was simply stating that if given the opportunity, the middle seat is the safest. A common parenthood vehicle is a mini-van and those don’t even have a middle seat option sometimes.
    As always, checking the manuals like I mentioned in point #5 is the best, and you should always take the advice of your car seat manufacturer and specific vehicle over any other advice given.

  4. I agree with previous comment about bulky puffy clothing. I live in Canada, and temperatures of – 27 celcious in winter is a dangerous temperature for a child. If ever in an accident and that child is clothed for warmth your looking at death by not being prepared for those temps. It only takes 15 mins for life threatening hyperthermia. Winter coats are a must.

  5. Thanks Stephanie for your comment. I also live in a cold climate, and have found that having my kids wear their coats backwards and over the straps is a good alternative to keep them toasty warm in the cold winter. All it takes it a quick switch, and works great. I also wrap their legs with warm blankets sometimes as well. Layering them on the outside of the harness, rather than under the harness, allows their harness to be snug enough, and also will keep them warm in case of accidents. Hope that tip helps! 🙂

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