I call it the reality check guide because no amount of engineering brilliance or perfect instructions is going to show you how to actually install your baby car seat into your car. Sure the instructions are well written and the process seems straight forward enough, but the manufacturers fail to take something major into account.
Cars! They come in all shapes and sizes and with this unique design comes different interior layouts and seat shapes, resulting in baby capsules and infant booster seats that never quite sit how they are supposed to – no matter how well you follow the instructions.
There are services available that will install your baby car seat for you but I think this is a rip off because as I mentioned, all cars are different so they will never get it 100% unless you have the right brand and model matching the right car, but mainly I think you should install it yourself because at some stage you are going to have to remove it for cleaning so you may as well learn how to put it in right in the first place.
I have installed and removed countless models of child seats into a dozen different types of vehicles and I have found first hand that each seat and each car requires a different approach, and only through trial and error have I learned the right way and the wrong way to approach the installation of your baby seat. I now share this knowledge with you in this ‘guide to installing a baby car seat’ The Reality Check.
Sometimes the seat will fit snugly just on its own and in this instance you are cheering and there is nothing more you need to worry about, but more often than not this is not the case so you need to call in the ‘special mounting brackets’ otherwise known as towels.
Making the seat ACTUALLY fit can be the biggest hassle of all!
Before you start screaming to the officials that this is surely not legal, let me ask you this. If the baby seat is placed in the car and harnessed down according to the instruction manual, yet still rocks wildly up and down and side to side, do you not think it is wise to employ some sort of way to stop this happening?
The Towel or two placed either behind the back or under the front of the seat will usually stop the seat from moving and allow the fasteners to do their job, but sometimes the fix is far simpler than that.
The reason for the baby car seats not fitting securely is to do with the shape of the backseat of the car, and because the baby seat is designed with a curve, if the angle on the backseat is not right, the curve allows the seat to roll back and forth, and sometimes side to side! Using a towel can fix this, but there was one instance where I found that by removing the rocker bar on the back of the seat I was able to solve the problem straight away, without any towels.
The rocker bar is a plastic insert that some models utilise that allows the seat to go from slightly inclined to more upright, and this bar sticks out from the natural curved frame of the seat itself. By removing this bar completely (this is easily done) you can eliminate any rocking motion that the seat had previously as it now fits snugly with the upright seat of the car
There are many guides and tips you can use on how best to install your baby car seat, but when it comes down to it logic really is the best thing you can apply through the process. The instruction manual will guide you through the installation process nicely so you really don’t need help there, but if the seat does not fit securely, that’s when you just need to think logically – always keeping the health and safety of your child at the forefront of your mind.