Convertable Car Seat Question

Updated on April 16, 2010
M.U. asks from Tampa, FL
15 answers

I just bought a convertible car seat and installed it in my car facing back (baby is under a year and under 20lbs). I am having a problem tightening the restraint belt because the buckle/belt that you have to pull to tighten the belt is located on the part of the car seat that is pressing against the back of the seat of the car. This will obviously not be a problem once I switch to forward facing position. But I feel as though I can't tighten his belt tight enough. I thought this problem may be specific to this seat, but I looked at others and they all seem to have this design. Has anyone else run into this issue?

I should clarify that the problem is with tightening the harness when the baby is in the car seat. I am using the LATCH system and that part is working fine.

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answers from Miami on

I experienced that problem too. My car seat had a metal clip I had to lift up and then pull the straps. Luckily my fingers are small enough that I was able to squeeze them in between the backseat and car seat. It's annoying, I know.

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answers from Houston on

Actually I have a friend who is a Certified Childhood Injury Prevention Specialist, she works at Texas Children's Hospital and this is her job, she installed my carseat for me and I have a new car but she said that you don't use the latch when the convertible seat is facing the rear of the vehicle, that is only for when the carseat is facing forward. I have the same tightening thing on the foot part of the carseat where it touches the seat but if yours is where you can't reach it then it sounds like your seat is not reclining enough. Mine didn't either at first and you want it at the perfect angle to be safe (and so your baby isn't leaning forward) so what she said they do is cut up a swimming noodle into 3 pieces the length of the base of your convertible seat to make a triangle shape and tape it together and shove it down into the crack of the seat to where the carseat is straight across the bottom rather than at an angle like the car's backseat. This is so hard to explain in writing. If you message me with your email address or your cell number, I will take a pic when I leave work and get in my car and send it to you and then you will understand what I mean! Its really simple to do and makes your baby's journey safer! Also, do you know how to make your seat belt lock? I never knew until my friend showed me how.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

It sounds like your seat is sitting too upright. It should be reclined when it's rear-facing. That should allow you access to the strap and the release. You can go to most firestations to get your seat installation checked. They'll tell you if it's in correctly or not.

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answers from Washington DC on

If you're talking about the strap to adjust the harness, you should adjust the harness for your child and then install the car seat.

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answers from Albuquerque on

The Fire Dept or Police Dept should be able to help. The other suggestions I found when I had this problem were: Be sure the seat is level (use a lifter or pool noodles to tilt the seat as needed so it is level). Adjust the belt length before pulling it through the carseat--it will be too long or too short, so take it back out of the seat and adjust. When you get it to the point where it is just slightly too short to reach the buckle, put as much weight in the carseat as you can (almost sit on it yourself or have someone else push on it) and clip the seatbelt. When you release the adult weight, the belt will be very tight--the weight of your tiny baby will not be enough to make it loose. Also, read your manuals (for the car & seat), mine said that the seatbelt buckle could be twisted up to 3 turns if it needed to be shortened (so the buckle and belt don't come together at an awkward place on the seat). I used all 3 suggestions: pool noodles, twist buckle, sit on carseat to buckle the belt; and our carseat was perfectly level and tightened when I took it to the Fire Dept for inspection!
Good luck and be safe!

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answers from Seattle on

We had the same problem. Our car doesn't have LATCH, so that is not an option.
The instructions for using the belt say to put pressure on the seat and then tighten and click in the belt. I found it easiest with two people.
I overshortened the seatbelt by about 2 inches, have someone else push down the car seat far enough to pull out and click in the seatbelt and when you release the pressure the fit should be tight.
If you don't have someone to help you check with your local fire dept.
We never got a truly GREAT fit until we turned the seat around.

Good luck.



answers from Jacksonville on

Use the latch system. You can get it MUCH tighter than the seatbelt!



answers from Lakeland on

If you go to a fire department they will help you install it properly. If you are in the Winter Haven area - there is a specialist at Regency Hospital for that as well. I returned one convertible car seat that we had when my daughter was a baby because I didn't like the path that routed the belt through - and when properly installed (with help from specialist) I could lift the back of the car seat (behind baby's head) up to the seat back/headrest with 1 finger! My daughter is 5 now - and we are in the Britax seat - love, love, love it. I urge everyone to go to YouTube and search "5 point car seat" and watch the video posted by kcmillerfamily. It is very enlightening, and educational. I've posted the link a zillion times on here - but I am in no way connected with the people that posted that video. good luck!



answers from Miami on

Bring it and your car to the fire dept. They will install it safely!


answers from Minneapolis on

Yep, pretty common. If you pull the excess belt webbing up you should be able to adjust it by pulling up on it. Otherwise make sure the seat is level according to the childs age, as older kids can have the seat more upright.

Also, please google EXTENDED REAR FACING and JOELS JOURNEY, and don't turn your bab yaround at 1yr and 20lbs.

You will figure the seat out, but please do find a CPST in your area at under the child passenger safety area to help you install the seat, show you how to use it properly, and help you learn how to adjust it while rear facing.



answers from Nashville on

I was also going to suggest the fire department, or the police department. In our town it's the PD. They will install it for you and make sure that it is correct. Call and ask if they have any certified carseat inspectors. I think I can picture what you are saying, and I would want to make sure it was 100% safe.



answers from Boise on

Call your local fire department. They have "clinics" where they can help you install, and/or check your installation to make sure that you are doing it correctly. They are pros at this...I have used them for every stage - infant, convertible rear facing, convertible forward facing, and am going back to make sure that the infant and forward facing are save together.



answers from San Diego on

***I think your other responders were confused in your Q---LATCH refers to 2 parts, Lower Anchors (RFing or FFing depending on the seat and car) and upper Tether (almost only FFing), and has totally different function from the belt that tightens the 5-point harness--which is what I read your Q to be about.***

Some car seats place this lever lower than others--the advantage is that the child can't reach it to loosen their belt/5-point harness. It also depends on your vehicle--In our truck, the seats go straight up, so I have to wedge my finger in there and grab the lever from its side to adjust it, a tight fit, but do-able in my case.

TIPS for RFing:
1st-- make sure the seat is reclined per the instructions--most seats have a leveling line which should be horizontal with level ground/the door threshold. You'd be surprised how many people install their seats too upright, which will make your tightening lever lower and harder to reach btwn the carseat and vehicle seat (besides not being as safe for the baby's neck). You may use a towel or pool noodle as suggested earlier (just be careful b/c they will compress and you'll have to re-tighten the seat belt/lower anchors used to install the seat).

2nd-- If you can get baby in w/o loosening the straps, just don't use it (other than initially sizing it to baby, which you can do before installing it)--that's the way it was done before the adjusting levers were invented (and how my MIL still uses it--for simplicity sake).

3rd-- if you don't feel like you can fit your baby in snug, you might consider a different model carseat that fits your vehicle better.

Good luck, unfortunately, it isn't an uncommon problem



answers from Cincinnati on

Yes, I had this problem with my husband's car. Are you sure the seat is completely level? I had to buy one of those roller things to put under the carseat to left the part against the back of the seat to make it level, and then the problem was solved.

Just as an additional note, AAP now recommends that children are kept read-facing as long as possible - up to several years of age. The carseat we have keeps children rear-facing up to 40-pounds. Rear-facing is far safer than forward-facing! Talk to your pediatrician about this, but please don't plan to switching your child to forward-facing until you have to because the carseat or the child's size requires it!



answers from Salt Lake City on

didn't it come with a clip too?
If you reviewed the instruction materials it came with, then you're doing it right. I wouldn't be too concerned because if the seat belt is safe to hold a person in, then its safe to hold the car seat in.

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