The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that infants are safer in rear-facing car seats. But How to put a newborn in a car seat? Before, it is crucial to ensure that the seat is correctly secured. Start by installing the car seat properly before putting a newborn in it.

Next, tighten the harness straps. Adjust the shoulder straps to fit your baby’s shoulders and the chest clip to armpit level. Before driving, double-check the vehicle seat’s tightness. 

When a car seat is improperly installed, you expose your child to several hazards, including choking, spinal injury, and burns from the car seat’s straps. This is concerning, considering 70 percent of car seats are installed incorrectly.

The digital parenting magazine, TodaysParent.com, cites a study that concluded that “when kids are killed in a crash, there’s a one in five chance they weren’t properly restrained in their car seat or with a seat belt (or weren’t buckled up at all).” Therefore, you must learn how to secure your newborn in a car safely.  

Struggling to find useful resources to help you learn how to secure your newborn in a car? Fret not because this article is for you.  In this article, you’ll learn about newborn-appropriate car seats, correct installation, and safety guidelines. If you would rather watch a video than read instructions, I got you.

I have found some helpful videos from YouTube, which I have embedded into this article. After reading this article, I hope you can confidently secure your newborn in a car seat and travel without anxiety. 

Key Takeaways

  • When traveling with a newborn, using a car seat correctly is essential.
  • Use the car seat following the manufacturer’s instructions and other reliable resources.
  • To ensure your child’s continued safety while riding in a car, you should regularly review and update your understanding of car seat safety rules.

Seven Ways to Put a Newborn in a car seat

When putting a newborn in a car seat, there are several important considerations to ensure their safety and comfort. Here are seven ways to achieve this:

  1. Choose the right car seat: Look for features like a secure harness system, side-impact protection, and an adjustable recline option when choosing a car seat.
  2. Proper installations: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and your vehicle’s manual to install the car seat correctly. Use the LATCH system or a seat belt to fasten it securely.
  3. Rear-facing position: Always position the car seat in the rear-facing direction. This is the safest position for newborns, providing optimal support for their developing neck and spine.
  4. Adjust harness straps: Ensure the harness straps are threaded through the correct slots at or below your newborn’s shoulders. A single finger should fit between your baby’s collarbone and the strap, but the straps shouldn’t be too tight or loose.
  5. Proper angle: Many car seats have angle indicators to help you position them correctly. Newborns should lie at a semi-reclined angle of around 45 degrees to prevent their heads from falling forward and compromising their breathing.
  6. Supportive padding: Use any provided infant inserts or additional padding to ensure a comfortable and secure fit for your newborn. This padding helps support their head, neck, and body, keeping them comfortable during the journey.
  7. Avoid bulky clothing: Remove bulky clothing or blankets before securing your newborn in the car seat. These items can interfere with the harness’s proper fit. Instead, use a thin blanket or a car seat cover specifically designed for safe use with car seats.

Where should the car seat be placed for a newborn?

The safest position for a car seat for a newborn is in the rear middle seat. Here’s why it’s considered the safest car seat position:

  • Enhanced protection: Placing the car seat in the rear middle seat provides greater protection in a collision, minimizing the risk of injury.
  • Reduced side collision risk: This position reduces the likelihood of side collisions, offering an additional layer of safety for the newborn.
  • Mitigated airbag risks: The rear middle seat keeps the baby safe from active airbags, minimizing the potential hazards of airbag deployment.
  • Minimized distractions: Placing the car seat in the rear middle seat helps minimize distractions for the driver, promoting safer driving conditions.

How to Put Baby In Car Seat?

Each car seat brand may have specific instructions and features, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Here are step-by-step guides of some of the most popular brands for putting a newborn in a car seat:

Graco

  1. Place your child’s shoulders in the harness’s shoulder straps.
  2. Do up the buckles and make sure you hear a ‘click’ to know they are fastened tightly.
  3. Fasten the chest clip and make sure it clicks into position.
  4. Pull the harness strap tight while pressing down on the chest clip to eliminate any slack.
  5. Pull the adjustment strap to snug up the harness.
  6. The clip should sit at your child’s armpit level, so readjust as necessary.

Graco has made a useful video on how to install an infant seat; check it below: 

Britax

  1. To relax the harness, press the button.
  2. Remove the belt and clip from the chest.
  3. Fasten the shoulder straps into the harness buckles.
  4. Before fastening the seat belt, check to see your child sitting straight in the car seat.
  5. Wrap your child in the harness and secure the buckle.
  6. Make sure your child’s height is reflected in the harness’s setting.
  7. Once you hear a click when you tighten the adjuster strap, the straps are correctly adjusted.
  8. Verify that the excess harness is not pinching your child’s shoulder straps.
  9. The chest clip should be closed and positioned under your child’s arms.

Check out the YouTube video below from Britax Child Safety, Inc, with instructions on how to secure a child in a Britax infant car seat: 

Cybex Car Seat

  1. The harness straps of a rear-facing car seat should be at or below the child’s shoulders. You should put forward-facing seats at or above your child’s shoulders.
  2. Check that every strap is lying flat and is in the same place.
  3. Keep the chest clip closed and at armpit level at all times.
  4. Pinch the strap at the child’s shoulders to ensure it is snug in the harness. There should be no slack in the harness webbing that could cause it to pinch.
  5. Padded coats and other winter apparel should be avoided since they leave too much room between the harness and the child’s body.

Check out the YouTube video from Cubex below on how to install their car seats: 

When selecting a car seat for your newborn, consider some factors like height and weight capacity, installation type and seat dimensions. The chart below will walk you through the three most popular brands of car seats.

 

Infant Car SeatWeight CapacityHeight CapacityDimensions

(DxWxH) (In.)

Installation Type
Graco 4-35 lbs32”25.5 x 17.2 x 21.25Seat belt
Britax 4-35 lbs32”21.5 x 13.8 x 7.5LATCH
Cybex4-35 lbs32”26 x 17.7 x 17.3LATCH

How do you strap a newborn into a car seat?

Strapping a newborn into a car seat requires attention to detail and proper technique. Here are some essential tips to ensure a secure fit:

  • Harness straps should be at or below the infant’s shoulders when using a rear-facing seat and at or above the infant’s shoulders when using a forward-facing seat.
  • Verify that the straps are flat rather than twisted.
  • When fastening the shoulder straps, ensure the chest clasp is closed and at armpit level.
  • Try pinching the straps at the baby’s shoulders to ensure the harness is fastened correctly. No slack space is allowed.

How do I know if my newborn is placed correctly in the car seat?

Ensuring your newborn is correctly secured in the car seat is vital for their safety. Here’s how to ensure proper installation: 

  • Harness placement: The shoulder slots of the harness should be at or below your rear-facing baby’s shoulders.
  • Harness tightness: The harness must be worn with minimal slack. A strap that can be pinched between your fingers must be tight enough.
  • Position of chest clip: The chest clip should be fastened in the middle of the chest, just below the armpits.
  • Secured installation: The car seat must be secured with the LATCH system or a locking seat belt. The seat must be fixed so it cannot be shifted more than an inch in either direction.
  • Correct recline angle: The correct recline angle of the car seat will prevent your child’s head from flopping forward. Consult the manual for the ideal position and how to adjust your car seat.

Do newborns have to lay flat in a car seat?

Your newborn baby will be more secure in a lie-flat car seat than in an upright one. The infant car seat is the safest option available. A lie-flat car seat is the safest option for premature infants or those with specific medical needs. While most lie-flat models are designed with newborns in mind, they can be modified as the baby develops to provide continued safety and comfort.

While shopping for a car seat, you must ensure that the one you settle on is a lie-flat design. While most seats offer some degree of reclining, an actual lie-flat type will go completely flat.

Conclusion 

It’s always important to follow the manufacturer’s car seat installation directions. Mainly, you should focus on learning to adjust the harness, check the tightness, and put the chest clip on a baby.

Following these recommendations, parents may rest assured that their children will travel safely and comfortably in their car seats.

Ready to get a new car seat for your baby? Have you checked out our car seat reviews?

Author

Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren

Keren Simanova

Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren