Car Seat Woes

Updated on June 20, 2009
D.S. asks from Manila, AR
13 answers

Help!!! My 3 yr old will absolutely not stay in her car seat. She unfastens the top buckle and the bottom buckle. I am so afraid that we might have an accident and she would most definitely get hurt. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what to do to keep her in her car seat - I'm desperate!!

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much to everyone who responded. She is a very strong willed child and I had already tried pulling the car over, spanking her and all that to no avail. However, yesterday I did try the diaper pin trick - putting the pin as close under the part that hooks together on her chest as possible and guess worked!! We are getting reapy to go on vacation and I knew I had to get this taken care of before then. Thank you to all who offered their help!

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answers from Jonesboro on

Something that may make her want to stay in her carseat is putting a t.v in the car. You can buy them for about $100-$200, the ones that you can strap on the back of the front seats. I bought one for about $170 and it had 2 sceens, it has the option where both t.v. will play the same movie or you can a diffent movie going on the other t.v. and can hook the t.v. to headphones or you can have it where everyone can hear it. I know it is a little bit of an expensive solution, but kids will not grow out of it. It really works for my two boys who are 3 years old and 17 months. I know some people do not like there kids watching lots of t.v., but there are lots of fun educational movies you can put on from them watch in the car.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Time for a new 5 point harness or try turning the buckle part backwards. Also make sure that the straps are tight enough, make sure you cannot put more then 2 fingers between the straps and your daughter. We have the Graco Nautilus that is awesome!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tuscaloosa on

I had the same problem with my twins. I had a friend who is a police officer and talks to kids about safety come and talk to them, he had coloring books, stickers, lots of fun stuff. He helped them buckle a doll into the car seats, then gave the doll a "treat" for being good and staying buckled.

It worked like a charm, I keep a box of "treats" (cheap toys, fruit snacks, stickers) in my purse and they got one if they stay buckled. Probably wouldn't work if you child is afraid of police officers, but mine were fascinated by them.

Now that they are almost 5 they have been watching the TV commercial for "Click it or Ticket" seat belt campaign and get on to their dad if he forgets to buckle.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Florence on

It's been about 11-12 years since my daughter was our little escape artist, so this may not work with your carseat, but...our daughter would push her arms between the straps in front of her and climb out. I got a large diaper pin and pinned the straps together. She wasn't able to get the straps apart, so she couldn't get out.



answers from Tulsa on

My little girl is 3 and she was doing the same thing. I explained to her why it's important to wear a seat belt, I showed her that everyone in the car is wearing one, and then I told her it's not a choice she WILL wear the seat belt. I told her I love her and I don't want her to get hurt so there's no option. I think it's important to explain things to your kids, not just to manipulate them into doing what you want.



answers from Tulsa on

If it is a 5 point harness then it isn't working right. They are supposed to be kid proof so they can't get out. I recommend you keep your eyes open for a free car seat check in your area. We went this weekend and got a new one free for J, who is 2 1/2. K didn't get one because hers is still fitting her okay. They wanted to put J in a booster with a shoulder strap and I asked if they had a taller 5 point harness seat. They looked through all the seats in boxes and found a really tall one and we can eventually take out the straps and use it as a booster with a shoulder strap.

Three is old enough to have consequences. When he starts to get out then pull over to the side immed. and do what you do for consequences. We use time out or loosing privileges for both kids. Maybe you could take something he has with him in the car for a couple of minutes. He has to learn this is a SERIOUS issue.



answers from Texarkana on

explain to her what happens when you are not in the seat properly and then tell her if she doesn't stay in the seat right you will have to punish her like maybe she won't get to go anywhere in the car good luck



answers from Fort Smith on

There is a special carseat out there for extreme cases. If I remember correctly, it is a vest that fastens in the back. During the carseat technician course, we learned about it, but never had an extreme enough case to have to use it. What is recommended before that type of extreme measure is some strict disciplinary techniques. Some things to try: If she is able to fasten her own carseat, allow her to do that while you check to make sure it is done correctly. I have my 4 year old fasten the top while I do the bottom. That gives them ownership in the process. Constantly tell her that she is not safe if she is not buckled in. If she unbuckles, pull over immediately and refasten it. You might want some sort of consequence if she unbuckles it. Pull over as many times as needed to make your point that you are not giving in on this. This may require you to leave enough time in your schedule so that you won't be late. You can keep a sticker chart in the car (You can get a package of them at a teacher store for a couple of dollars and cute stickers to go on them.) and allow her to put a sticker on it every time you arrive at your destination without having to rebuckle her. When she fills the chart, she gets a predetermined prize. That will give her a goal and get her in a good habit. My children really attached to the "safety" mantra. One time an older child accidentally unbuckled the carseat rather than her own seatbelt and nobody realized it. Suddenly another child noticed and started insisting that her sister was not safe and that I had to pull over and fix the problem. I've forgotten to buckle a child in the confusion of loading lots of things in the car and before we are out of the driveway I hear "I am not safe, Mommy." Be persistent and you can fix this problem.



answers from Tulsa on

Well, not sure if you're a spanker, but that's what I would do...I would pull the car over ASAP and swat her. I'm not sure if you could maybe rig it somehow where you could get it unfastened, but she couldn't??
Good luck, that's a tough one!



answers from Oklahoma City on

My daughter has never tried to get out of the 5 point harness while driving, but we have a high back booster in one car that is secured by the shoulder belt. If your daughter is big enough (I think height is the most important factor for proper placement of the shoulder belt) you might try getting one of these. I didn't shop for it with her (which you could certainly do), but she was super excited about her new big girl car seat. She didn't unbuckle it during driving, but she did unbuckle it once when I was pulling into the drive way (I had already made it absolutely clear that she would not be permitted to unbuckle it w/o my permission because it was not safe and we must always be buckled in, plus it's the law) before I had stopped. I immediately took the new seat away and returned her to the convertible car seat w/ the 5 point harness and told that if she couldn't act like a big girl, she couldn't have a big girl car seat. Worked like a charm. I kept her in the other for a week or so and since she's gotten it back no problems whatsoever. She also likes it (as do I) b/c it's easier for her to get into by herself b/c it's not as high up on the seat. Just make sure you pull the seat belt all the way out and then let the slack go back in after you buckle (as you would if installing a convertible seat) so that she does not have the freedom of movement from the extra slack (hopefully that makes sense). I think there are also guards, and you could buy one that is harder to unbuckle, but this is one of those areas where I believe it is better to foster the idea that it is not okay to try to get out. Just buying something harder to open only encourages them to try harder (hopefully) w/ less success but does not teach them to comply with the fundamental and absolute necessity of being buckled in and safe.

This is definitely one to take a stand on and make sure that she knows who is in charge - personally, something like this is an absolute mandatory must and I don't believe in rewarding a child for complying with the law - she should no that this is 100% nonnegotiable and that her compliance is expected, not something to be bargained for.

You might also see if there is an Elmo's world or a book of some kind that talks about safety and seat belts that you can read together. Taking her to a safety seat fair or arranging a visit w/ your local fireman or police officer may help also.

Here's the seat we purchased:



answers from Tulsa on

I would try to give her a soft book to look at, a treat,just something to do. I would also if possible let her wear herself out if it will not cost problems when you get where you are going.



answers from Fayetteville on

i'd talk to a car seat expert about it. Call your local fire dept. They have certified folks to help.

I might even bribe her with a super awesome toy that she can only have if she stays in the car seat. Or get some kind of lock, for real. Your concern is dead on. She is in serious danger if she won't stay in her car seat.




answers from Monroe on

It's the age. Car seats are not meant to be child proof, but they are meant to be hard enough to unbuckle that children don't want to fight it.

I would:
A)make certain that the straps are tight enough--meaning that at the shoulder the strap is tight enough that you can barely get your finger between the strap and the collar bone.
B)stop the car whenever they unbuckle it, make her buckle back up and refuse to move until she is buckled
C)you can try placing the hook-side of self stick velcro on the parts of the buckle she has to push to get out--generally if you use a really really stiff velcro (heavy duty), then it makes it uncomfortable enough that a small child won't want to do it any more because it would require so much more effort.
D) try rewarding your child for every road trip (no matter how short or long) with a small candy or dollar store toy if they don't unbuckle themselves.
E) if all else fails, you could try spanking after you have pulled over when she unbuckles

I was there with my daughter when she was 2.5 or so and it was a pain...I was late to many things because I had to pull over and strap her back or make her strap herself back in...but safety comes first, someone can wait 5 minutes on me (just be sure if she's doing on the way to daycare or something, that you leave with an extra 5-10 minutes to spare just in case).

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