Toddler Safety: How to Secure Your Toddler in Their Car Seat

How to stop toddler getting out of car seat

Car seat safety is one thing you don’t want to mess with. Keeping your toddler safe in the event of a car accident is so important, and if you’ve ever watched any crash videos, you know just how much harm could be caused if your child is not properly restrained in their seat.

If your toddler has become an escape artist and is starting to either get out of their seats or move the straps around, not only is it posing a potential risk to them in the event of a car accident, but it can be very distracting when you’re trying to focus on driving. In the article below, we’ll share some information about how to safely secure your toddler in their car seat as well as some tips for how to stop toddler getting out of car seat.

How Do I Stop My Toddler from Escaping From their Car Seat?

When you have a little Houdini on your hands, keeping them in their car seat can certainly be a challenge. If it seems that your little one is able to escape no matter how you adjust their seats or their straps, read through our suggestions below for how to stop toddler getting out of car seat.

How Do I Stop My Toddler from Unbuckling the Chest Clip?

One way children find to escape from their seat, or at least pull the straps over their arms, is by unbuckling the chest clip. Obviously, this can be very dangerous if you were to get in an accident, so you will want to take steps to stop your toddler from being able to unbuckle the clip. If you’re wondering “How do I stop my toddler from unbuckling my chest clip,” first, remember that the proper car seat harness position is right at your toddler’s nipple line. Make sure the chest clip is not too high or too low, as it could prevent the car seat from properly protecting your child.

Try putting your child in a button-down shirt when they ride in the car. Have the shirt unbuttoned when you place them in their seat. Then, buckle them in their seat and adjust the straps and chest clip as normal. Once they are properly secured in the seat, button the shirt over the chest clip and straps. Since many young children lack the small motor skills required to undo buttons, this can stop them from being able to unbuckle or slide down the baby car seat harness.

How Do I Keep My Toddler In their Car Seat Straps

For a baby climbing out of car seat, keeping the straps secure and finding the correct car seat strap position is important. If your child isn’t able to move the straps, they won’t be able to get out of their seat, keeping them safe in the car.

The shoulder straps on a car seat should be secure without being so tight that they hurt your baby. To test for tightness, you should only be able to slide two fingers between your child’s collar bone and the car set harness straps. If you try to pinch the car seat straps over your toddler’s shoulder, you should not be able to pick up the straps when you pinch, they should remain snug against your child.

What to Do If Your Toddler Won’t Get in His or Her Car Seat?

At some point, it is likely that your toddler is going to resist getting into his or her car seat. If you need to go somewhere with them, keeping them out of their seat is clearly not an option. Depending on the age of your child, the way you respond may look different. Below are a few different ideas you can try:

  • Reason with them: If you have an older child, they may be able to understand the importance of being safe in the car. Explain that their car seat’s job is to keep them safe and protect them when you are driving in the car. Explain where you are going and why you need to go there and then encourage them to climb into their seat so you can secure them.
  • Offer to let your child help buckle themselves in: Toddlers are becoming more and more independent. Rather than doing all the work of buckling your toddler into their seat, involve them and let them help. Before you drive, you’ll want to check for proper car seat strap placement and tightness to make sure your toddler is properly secured.
  • Give choices: Again, since your child is getting more independent, try giving them some choices. Before leaving the house, you could tell them they can pick one toy to bring with them if they get into their car seat properly. You could also give them the option of climbing into the car seat themselves or having you lift them up into it. These probably seem like minor choices, but sometimes all your toddler needs is that small sense of being in control of something.

Tips for Keeping Your Child in Their Car Seat

If you have tried our ideas below and are in need of additional ideas, here are a few more tips for keeping your child safely restrained in their car seat:

  • Make sure the straps and harness are properly adjusted and secured before each trip.
  • Block your child’s access to the strap release button using a towel or blanket.
  • Reason with your child and explain the importance of staying properly secured in their car seat.
  • Offer rewards or consequences. Plan special trips to local parks and only allow your child to get out and play if they have stayed secured in their car seat on the way to the park. You could also consider using a sticker chart with slightly older children and give them a sticker for each trip they remain in their car seat. After they have earned a set number of stickers, then you can give them a pre-determined reward.
  • Have some car-only toys that will keep your child entertained in the car. Just be sure to choose soft items that couldn’t become a dangerous projectile in the event of an accident.

Correct Car Seat Strap Position

Knowing the correct position for car seat straps is essential in properly securing your children. Many parents have questions about where the shoulder straps should be on a car seat and whether the car seat straps should be at or above the child’s shoulders. We’ve compiled answers to these and other frequently asked questions to help you adjust the seats on infant car seats, rear-facing car seats, and forward-facing car seats.

Where Should the Shoulder Straps Be on a Car Seat?

The shoulder straps on car seats belong in different positions based on the placement of the seat in the car. Their location will vary based on whether your child is in an infant car seat, a rear-facing car seat, or a forward-facing car seat.

Infant Car Seats

For infant car seats, the shoulder straps should come from just below or right at the baby’s shoulder. Infant car seats are rear-facing and reclined. If the harness straps are too far up the seat, they will allow for the baby to slide up in the seat. If this were to happen during an accident, it could potentially lead to serious head or bodily injuries.

Rear-Facing Car Seats

Since rear-facing car seats are also reclined and facing the seat of the car, the straps should follow the same rules as infant car seats. Car seat straps for rear-facing seats should come from just at or just below the baby or toddler’s shoulders. This will keep them from sliding up the seat in the event of an accident. When the straps come from above the shoulder, they can also be too loose, which can make it easier for your child to escape from their car seat.

Forward-Facing Car Seats

Unlike infant and rear-facing car seats, the toddler car seat straps for a forward-facing car seat should be positioned just above or right at the child’s shoulder level. With forward-facing seats, if the straps come from below the child’s shoulders, it can allow the head to move too far forward in a crash, which could lead to serious injuries.

How Do You Adjust the Straps on a Car Seat?

Since every car seat is slightly different, you should always consult your manual to confirm how to adjust the straps on the car seat. However, many car seats share common features and are adjusted in a very similar fashion.

To loosen the car seat straps, there should be a button or trigger towards the bottom of the seat. Often, this button is under the fabric covering to make if more difficult for your child to get at it, so you may need to search for it when you are familiarizing yourself with the seat. Push the button and pull on the straps. The straps will be able to pull forward, letting you loosen them as much as you need to readjust or remove your child.

To tighten the straps after you have placed your child inside their seat, pull on the excess strap beneath the button for loosening the straps. This will remove the excess slack from the straps. Be sure to pull slowly and adjust the position of the straps as needed to ensure a proper fit for your child.

Since keeping the straps at the correct height is essential, you will also want to be familiar with how to adjust this feature. Many car seats feature a sliding top that will move the straps up or down to allow you to position them correctly. With some models, you may need to pull the straps out through the front of the seat and re-thread them through a higher (or lower) slot to get them into the correct location. Again, consult with your user’s manual to confirm which method will be necessary for your car seat model.

When Do You Need to Move the Straps on a Car Seat?

There are a few main times you’ll need to move the straps on a car seat. The first time you place your baby in a new seat, you will want to check the position of the baby seat strap. Remember, if the child is in an infant seat or a rear-facing seat, the straps should come from just below or right at their shoulder. If they are forward-facing, the straps should come from right above or right at their shoulder.

You’ll want to check the position of the straps regularly as your child grows. See if there is space to slide them up a notch while still ensuring they are positioned at the correct location. Also, when you switch a child from rear-facing to forward-facing, it will be time to adjust them again to make sure they are now coming from above your child’s shoulders.

Car Seat Strap Safety

  • Here are a few more tips to help you keep your child safe in his or her car seat:
    Remove any bulky coats or clothing before placing your child in their car seats. Bulky coats can make it appear that the straps are snug enough, when in fact they are dangerously loose.
  • Always check your child’s straps before driving. Ensuring they are positioned at the right height and snug. Look to make sure the chest clip is level with their nipple line.

Where is the Safest Place for a Toddler Car Seat?

Toddler car seats should always be placed in the backseat of a car. They should not go in the front seat, especially in cars that have airbags. If possible, consider placing the car seat in the middle of your backseat. This can provide some additional protection since the middle seat is the least likely to receive a direct impact in an accident.

When Should Your Put Your Toddler in a Forward-Facing Car Seat?

Leaving your child rear-facing for as long as possible is the safest option. In the United Kingdom, children are required to be at least 15 months before switched to a forward-facing seat. If your child hasn’t passed the limits for using a rear-facing seat yet, leaving them rear-facing for long can provide them with more protection and significantly limit their injuries should you be involved in a car accident.

To learn more about car seat safety laws in the United Kingdom, reference this webpage from Gov.uk.

Car seats have come a long way over the years. They can protect your precious cargo and keep them safe in the event of a car accident. Being familiar with car seat safety laws and with how your child’s seat operates is essential in keeping them as protected as possible.

This article from RAC highlights some additional car seat safety information, updated laws regarding car seats in the United Kingdom, and tips for selecting a car seat. Read through it if you still have any unanswered questions related to car seat safety.

Being prepared for accidents, both big and small, is important. Proper use and installation of a car seat can increase the odds of your child surviving an accident and walking away with only minor injuries. Keeping a first aid kit on hand can help you be prepared for other accidents and injuries. Toddlers can be very accident-prone as they are still working on their balance and coordination, you’ll definitely be glad if you’re prepared with a first aid kit in your car. A few great options to consider include this 50-Piece Campervan Travel First Aid Kit, this84-Piece Vintage Inspired Mini First Aid Kit, and this 50-Piece Landrover Defender Travel First Aid Kit.

We sincerely hope our article has provided you with the necessary insight and information to help you keep your child safe and secure in their car seat! What are your tips for how to stop toddler getting out of car seat?