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How to Install a Car Seat

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By Erin Thompson on June 17, 2020 in life hacks

If you’re a new parent, start by taking a deep breath. There’s a lot to learn before and after bringing your munchkin home for the first time.

We like taking things one step at a time, so here goes: how to install a car seat 101!

Front-Facing or Rear-Facing?

The decision between installing your child’s car seat either front-facing or rear-facing is more of a legal decision than a personal decision. The laws differ for each state, which might sound tricky but no need to fret, we are here to break them down. Thanks to the GHSA, we have all the deets.

Colorado

Our chilly and notoriously snowy Say state requires children under 1 year and less than 20lbs be in a rear-facing infant seat. Upon reaching the age of 1 year and weighing 20-40lbs, kids can upgrade to a front-facing child safety seat and then to the booster for years 4-7. When they reach age 8, they are allowed to be in an adult safety belt!

Beware! The maximum fine for a first-time offense is $82. Avoid that by properly strapping in your kiddos!

Illinois

When your little one is craving a Chicago-style hot dog, pack them up in the car and go get one! Be sure not to add any ketchup to avoid red seats. In all seriousness, if they’re less than 8 years old, they must be in a child restraint. This child restraint can be either a car seat or booster, whichever they fit best in! However, if they’re between 8 and 15, they just need an adult safety belt.

Illinois doesn’t play around with safety. The maximum fine for a first-time offense is $75 and any subsequent offenses jump up to $200.

Kansas

Kansas, here we come! Children under 3 years must be in a child restraint, facing either direction. For 4 to 7-year-olds who are not yet 80lbs and less than 57” tall, you will need either a child restraint or booster seat! In Kansas, if you have a taller kid, they are rewarded with a bit more freedom. Adult safety belts are allowed for 8 to 13-year-olds and 4 to 7-year-olds that are more than 80lbs or taller than 57”. Man, those babies grow up fast!

The max fine for a first-time offense is $60, let’s stay away from fines and stay safe!

Missouri

Good ole M-O has “MO” requirements! When less than 4 years old or less than 40lbs, child safety seat is the only way to go. When 4-7 years old and 40-80lbs and 4’9” or shorter, you choose between booster seat or child safety seat. (Your kid will likely be ready to level up to the booster seat!) If your 4 to 7-year-old weighs more than 80lbs or taller than 4’9”, they (you) get to decide between a booster seat and safety belt. Once you hit that 8 to 16-year range, they’re good to be an in an adult safety belt!

We don’t want any first or second-time offenses, but the maximum fine for the first offense is $50. Think of all the ice cream you could buy this summer with that money!

Tennessee

If you’re taking your kiddo to enjoy some of Memphis’s famous BBQ, be sure you know their age and weight (some days it’s hard to remember these)!

  • If they’re less than 1 year old or less than 20lbs, rear-facing seat it is.
  • If they’re 1-3 years old and more than 20lbs, a forward-facing seat for the win!
  • If they’re 4-8 and less than 4’9”, the booster seat is the only way to go.
  • If they’re 8 or younger and more than 4’9”, just buckle them in the back seat. Honestly, let’s keep them in the back seat for 9-12 years old, too!
  • If they’re 9-15, they can handle buckling alone because they’re allowed to be in an adult safety belt.

Tennessee and Missouri have the same first-time offense, $50! Keep your kid safe and keep that money in your wallet!

How to install a front-facing car seat

While each car seat has a few special features of their own, these instructions should help you get started with any brand!

1. The back or bottom of the car seat has openings to thread the seat belt through and buckle on the other side.

2. “Anchor” the seat by using the hook on the back of the car seat to attach to the latches on the back of your vehicle’s seats. This extra safety may just give you the peace of mind you need.

How to install a rear-facing car seat

Let’s get your car seat all set up!

1. Remove the carrier from the base (the base will stay in the car).

2. Anchor the seat!

3. Run the seat belt through the base.

4. Pop the carrier back into the base.

5. Check the base angle. You’ll want to adjust this based on the age of your child. This should be on the car seat itself to help guide you.

Conclusion

Just a few final words of advice.

  • Be safe with your most precious cargo, and make sure to follow the laws of the area you live in!
  • Double and even triple check when installing your car seat that everything is secure and attached in the correct way to be as safe as possible.
  • Enjoy being on the road with mini-you in the back seat!

Erin Thompson is the Marketing Manager for Say Insurance. She's responsible for guiding the strategic direction of all Say marketing campaigns. Prior to joining Say, Erin worked for a media agency based in Columbia, MO. She spent several years developing successful advertising campaigns for a diverse set of clients across the United States. Erin began her career in television advertising after earning her Master’s from the University of Missouri Journalism School with an emphasis in Strategic Communication. Her love of communication and helping people directed her to the insurance world.

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