The Ultimate Car Seat Safety Guide: 70+ Resources for Choosing, Installing, and Using Your Car Seat Properly

Car seat use can reduce the risk of death for children in motor vehicles by as much as 71 percent, but unfortunately, many parents simply don't know how to use car seats safely. As many as 95% of parents make at least one error in car seat use when leaving the hospital for the first time after having a baby.

With practically all parents making mistakes like improperly positioning children in their seat or installing the seat improperly, it's clear families need help learning how to appropriately choose, install, and use car seats to keep their children safe in vehicles. And help, we have!

We've compiled a treasure trove of the best car seat resources available to parents. These include official government guides, car seat recommendations, inspection events, tips, warnings, and even blogs and social media communities where you can get personal help with your car seat challenges. Find out everything there is to know about proper car seat use from our selection of the world's best car seat safety resources.

Government and Organization Resources

Learn about car seat safety straight from the authorities.

  1. SaferCar.gov Parents Central: Learn how to keep kids safe in and around your car with information on car seats, choosing smart cars, and preventing accidents like heat stroke and backovers.
  2. HealthyChildren.org Car Seats On the Go: Powered by the American Academy of Pediatrics, HealthyChildren.org's guide to car seats has the latest recommendations and updates for car seat safety.
  3. CDC Child Passenger Safety: Get the Facts: The CDC offers enlightening statistics about reducing the risk of injury and death for children in motor vehicles.
  4. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Car Seat Safety for Kids: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is one of the leaders in collecting data on the effectiveness of child safety seats as well as child passenger safety trends.

Choosing and Buying a Car Seat

Stumped on which car seat is the right one of your child? These guides can help!

    Car Seat Types: Learn about the four types of car seats in this guide.
  1. SaferCar.gov: How to Find the Right Car Seat: Use this guide to learn how to find the right car seat for your child's age and size -- and when to transition them to a new one.
  2. The Car Seat Finder Tool: Enter your child's date of birth, weight, and height, and you'll get a recommendation for a car seat type that fits your child's needs.
  3. Car Seat by Child's Age and Size: Choose a car seat that best meets your child's needs by using this handy guide.
  4. Car Seat Ease of Use Ratings: Learn about car seat features before you commit to buying a seat with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's car seat ease of use ratings.
  5. Consumer Reports Car Seat Ratings: Consumer Reports has a car seat buying guide, ratings the the latest models, and a list of best buys to help you choose the right car seat for your needs.
  6. Safe Kids Worldwide Advokit on Tax Free Car Seats: Find information on purchasing car seats tax free here.
  7. Purchasing a Car Safety Seat: Take this information into consideration when you're shopping for a new child safety seat.
  8. Carseat Blog Recommended Car Seats: Find expert reviews on the safest recommended car seats for every age and stage.

Installing Your Car Seat

Far too many parents buy the right seat, but put it in their car the wrong way. Use these guides to learn how you can safely install your child's car seat.

  1. How to Install Your Car Seat: Find tips for properly installing all types of car seats here.
  2. What is LATCH?: This resource explains what the LATCH system is and how you can use it to protect your child without seat belts.
  3. Where Should I Install My Child's Car Seat?: Check out this article to find out which spot is the safest for your child's car seat.
  4. Video: Installing Car Seats: This collection of videos by Consumer Reports shows parents how to properly install infant car seats.

Car Seat Safety Events and Inspections

To ensure proper fit, installation, and use of your car seat, it's really best that you get help from a professional -- even if you think you've got everything right. Learn about events and how you can get connected with certified technicians here.

  1. National Child Passenger Safety Certification: Get a Car Seat Checked: Learn how you can get your car seat checked and what you should plan for and expect at your car seat inspection.
  2. Safe Kids Worldwide Events: Find events including car seat checkups, educational workshops, and more from Safe Kids Worldwide.
  3. Car Seat Inspection Station Locator: Use this tool to find inspection stations for car seats where certified technicians will inspect your child's car seat and show you how to use it an install it correctly.
  4. SeatCheck.org: SeatCheck.org is committed to connecting, inspecting, and protecting with child seat inspections, tips, tools, and a review of car seat laws.

Continuing Car Seat Safety

So you've got the right seat safely installed and you know how to buckle your child in safely. Awesome! But you're not done. Maintain safety in your car after installation with these resources.

  1. Register Your Car Seat: If you've forgotten (or lost) the registration postcard that came with your car seat, don't worry. You can simply register your car seat online. That way, you'll be notified of any recalls and safety notices that you need to know about.
  2. Fitting a Child Correctly in a Seat Belt: When your child is ready to move out of their booster seat, they'll need to sit safely with an adult seat belt. This guide offers information on proper fit beyond the car seat.
  3. Buying a Car: You may put a lot of care into finding the right car seat for your child, but when it's time to buy a new car, you should still be thinking about how your car seat will fit. Use this guide to make sure that the car you buy will fit your child's car seat, and vice versa.

Car Seat Warnings

Think you're doing things right with your car seat? Think again. Heed these warnings that apply even to veteran parents.

  1. Mayo Clinic: Car Seat Safety: Avoid 10 Common Mistakes: Avoid these 10 common mistakes that often happen when parents install or use car seats.
  2. Is Your Child Riding in a Recalled Seat?: Check out this infographic to find out if your child is riding in a recalled car seat.
  3. Keep Kids WARM AND SAFE in the Car Seat: Puffy winter coats can be a hazard in car seats. This resource explains how you can keep kids safe in the car while still keeping them warm.
  4. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Avoiding Common Car Seat Installation Mistakes: Use Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's guide to avoiding common mistakes made when installing or using car seats.
  5. Car Seat Safety: The Biggest Mistakes Parents Make, and How to Avoid Them: Find out about using safety seats consistently, proper installation, avoiding used seats, and more.
  6. Rear Facing: Five Times Safer than Forward Facing: Learn why rear facing until age two or later can save your child's life in a car accident.
  7. Seven Deadly Car Seat Mistakes Even Experienced Parents Make: Think you know it all? Think again. This blog post illustrates car seat mistakes that are sometimes overlooked even by veteran parents.
  8. Safe Shopping With Baby: This resource explains why it can be dangerous to place infant car seats on top of shopping baskets -- and what you can do instead.
  9. Seat Belt Entanglement: Safe Ride 4 Kids discusses how children can become entangled in seat belts and how you can avoid this danger.

Car Seat Tips

Get quick safety tips for using your car seat from these resources.

  1. Top 10 Car Safety Tips: Hit the most important safety markers for car seat use with these tips including continuing to rear face, using tethers, and making kids pass a five step test to move out of a booster seat.
  2. Safe Kids Worldwide Car Seat Safety Tips: Find top tips for correctly using your child's safety seat and reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent.
  3. SeatCheck.org Tips and Tools: SeatCheck.org offers tips, tools, and other resources to learn more about safety tips, information about LATCH, recalls, and more.
  4. Ten Tips to Keep Your Child Safe: These are some of the most important tips for using a car seat safely.
  5. Eating in the Car Seat: This resource offers tips for less mess and less risk when letting children eat in their car seat.
  6. 16 Child Car Safety Tips You Need to Know This Year: Remember these tips when choosing, installing, and using car seats for your children.
  7. How to Wear Your Seat Belt While Pregnant: A seat belt is your child's first car safety restraint. Read this blog post to find out how to use yours properly while pregnant.
  8. Houdini Stopper Button Down Shirt Trick: Have a toddler who pushes their chest clip down? Try this trick to put an end to the nonsense.

Car Seat Information

Find state laws, a glossary, even resources for finding out what to do with an expired, damaged, or outgrown car seat.

  1. Car Seat Glossary: Not sure what you're reading about? Refer to this glossary for a better understanding of car seat terms.
  2. AAA Safe Seats 4 Kids State Laws: AAA's resource shares state laws for child restraints, so you can learn about what the laws are for car seats where you live.
  3. Governors Highway Safety Association Child Passenger Safety Laws: Find a quick overview of the type of child restraint required, fines, and more in this resource for child passenger safety laws.
  4. uberFAMILY: Need a car seat on the go? Turn to uberFAMILY for rides that have a safe car seat available for your child.
  5. Recycle Your Car Seat: Find out how to review, reuse, and recycle your car seat safely.
  6. Stuff Parents Like: Judging Your Carseat Facebook Photo: If you've ever had your car seat usage criticized, you may find humor in this post by Stuff Parents Like.

Car Seat Checklists

Need a quick check for car seat safety? Use these car seat checklists to determine whether you're getting things right.

  1. Child Safety Seat Checklist: With this checklist, you'll be able to safely buy, install, and use your child's car seat.
  2. Car Seat Checklist for Parents: Follow this checklist to properly check a car seat.
  3. Car Seat Use After a Crash: Can you use a car seat after a minor crash? It depends. Refer to this guide to find out if your car seat should be replaced or not.
  4. Used Car Seat Safety Checklist: If you're considering buying a used car seat, use this safety checklist to make sure it's in appropriate condition for your child.
  5. Safe Kids Worldwide Basic Car Seat Safety Checklist: Follow this basic safety checklist to keep your child safe while riding in the car.

Car Seat Blogs and Social Media

Get connected with car seat experts and other parents to learn about sales, recalls, updates, and seasonal reminders for car safety.

  1. The Car Seat Lady: The Car Seat Lady's blog has up to date information, recommendations, and tips for safely using car seats.
  2. SafeDad: SafeDad is an automobile safety and child passenger safety expert sharing advocacy for car safety.
  3. Cars.com Car Seat Check: This regularly updated blog shows care seat checks for a number of different car models, showing how car seats can fit into each and assigning grades for their ability to fit car seats.
  4. Car Seats for the Littles: One of the most active Facebook resources for car seats, Car Seats for the Littles is an excellent place to go with questions on car seat safety.
  5. Carseat Blog: This blog is a trusted source for car seat reviews, ratings, deals, and news. You'll find expert reviews and insights for parents by parents.
  6. The Car Seat Nerd: Check out this community where you can find updates and car seat safety advice from a car seat nerd.
  7. Safe Kids Worldwide Car Seat Blog: Learn about recalls, travel safety, and more from Safe Kids Worldwide's blog section on car seats.
  8. Diono Journeys: Learn about maintaining safety in style from car seat manufacturer Diono's car seat blog.
  9. RECARO Child Seats: See updates on sales, products, and more from RECARO's line of child seats.
  10. Car Seats for the Littles: Get updates on car seat sales, excellent guides, and lots of information about car seats from the Car Seats for the Littles blog.
  11. Car Seat Safe Kids: Car Seat Safe Kids is dedicated to educating parents and caregivers about proper car seat safety.
  12. Graco Heart to Heart Blog: Graco's Heart to Heart Blog covers new seat releases, giveaways, recalls, tips for proper use, and more.
  13. Safe Ride 4 Kids: Safe Ride 4 Kids shares dos and don'ts, safety videos, instructions for use, and more.
  14. National Child Passenger Safety Board: Find guidance and learn about standardized child passenger training and certification from this board.
  15. @GoodEggSafety: Follow the United Kingdom's leading child car seat safety initiative to get car seat advice through their Ask the Expert service.
  16. Super Car Seat Geek: Super Car Seat Geek offers information on car seat safety from nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians.
  17. @Britax: Britax shares product news and more on their Twitter account.
  18. @thecarseatlady: Get car seat updates from The Car Seat Ladies team including a pediatrician, nurse, and new mom, all certified CPST-I experts.
  19. @EvenfloBaby: Learn about child safety with Evenflo products on this Twitter account.

Photo by Flickr user mrbeck