How to Keep My Toddler from Unbuckling Herself Out of Car Seat

Updated on March 11, 2008
E.D. asks from San Mateo, CA
9 answers

Our 3 year old daughter can now completely unbuckle herself out of our Britax 5-point harness in her carseat... On a 1.5 hour drive yesterday, she must have done it a half dozen times!
I tried explaining patiently that it's dangerous, then I got really firm with her and then I got angry with her. Nothing seemed to deter her from escaping. I was with a friend with a 1 year old and a couple times she claimed she just wanted to "help" by giving the baby his bottle, blankie, etc.
Aside from the obvious danger of getting into an accident when she's unbuckled, I am also concerned about her opening the door while the car is moving while she's unbuckled. I keep the doors locked from the front seat but if she's unbuckled, she can just unlock it herself.
We have a new baby coming next month and I don't want her to continue this with her sister every time she fusses in the car...
I don't know if she was just bored because of the long drive, or was interested in the novelty of having a baby in the car or if she will continue this on a daily basis - in any case, it needs to stop!
Does anyone have any suggestions or know of some sort of additional device I can use to keep her from being able to escape?

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answers from San Francisco on

On the long drive take a tape or cd that is her favorite and play it. If she gets out then shut it off. Or give her a favorite treat like grapes and if she gets out take them away. Sometimes I hate to say it but a good scare works too. When she gets out give the brake a good stop and let her bump herself. Then she can see she is not safe out of her seat. It worked for me.

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answers from San Francisco on

For the door lock - I think most cars have a safety switch that you can set so that kids can't unlock the doors from the back seat - might want to check your car manual.

For the unbuckling q, you might want to post the question on the Car Safety Tips bulletin board at - lots of child passenger safety techs are regulars there and they're very helpful

good luck!



answers from Sacramento on

Honestly the way that worked for me..
(though I admit it's not the best way to do this.. but it was a 100% natural reaction)

we were driving on greenback and I saw my then 2 year old STANDING on her marathon.. I pulled over as fast and safe as I could..
I put the car in park hauled her little hiney out and honestly freak out.. she scared me.. and I scared her.

Often when they see true fear they remember it.. and she's never done it since.

But my daughter you can talk till your blue in the face take stuff away.. whatever she's an emotional barometer and reacts more to stuff like that then anything.



answers from Modesto on

It seems like you have a lot of good advice here- what always worked good for me was a good spanking!!! There are times when you talk to the child, times when you even yell at the child but- when it comes to the red danger cones around- do the spanking, this is not tolerable!! As far as the child proof locks, all cars should have these over 1985, so I am sure if you see a little button on the inside of the passenger back doors, click it down and it should work! Good luck and I am sure this too shall pass ~



answers from Bakersfield on

Hi E.. I am sorry I don't have any advice, but I am 'feeling your pain'. My 16 month old has started doing the same thing, although she has only gotten one of the parts out of the red buckle (same car seat). ((hugs))




answers from Merced on

My son did that when he was about 2 years old. I ended up turning the upper buckle backwards, so now he's not able to do it. Also, you may try flipping the lower buckle around, I know it's a pain..but I would be surprised if your daughter is still able to escape. Also, about her unlocking the doors..does your vehicle have a child safty lock?? Mine does on the inner side of the door. Mine is ALWAYS locked. Good know how kids are when they get their mind set on something.



answers from Sacramento on

There are seat belt buckle guards on the market. Here's one I found with a quick Google search. If you look around online, I think you should find something that will do the job.

Good luck!



answers from Sacramento on

We have the same seats. Does she push down the chest buckle and then let herself out? If she does this is what I have done to 4 of my kids. Position the chest clip where it should be on her and then take a small zip tie and place it right under the clip on each strap (not ziping the 2 straps together but each strap has a seperate zip tie). zip them VERY tight. This will make the chest clip stay where it belongs and not let her push it down. I have found this works very well. Another thing you can do is turn the crotch buckle around (backwards, button facing in) and plug it in it is not so easy for her to unlatch that way.



answers from San Francisco on

My oldest would do this as well, what worked for me was stopping the car, (when safe use a freeway exit do not stop on the freeway) and rebuckle her, if we were going somewhere that was fun for her,(the park, play date, etc.) I would tell her that we couldn't go and had to go home because it wasn't safe to be unbuckled. The other thing I did was a friend of my dad who was a police man talked to her while wearing his uniform and told her that if she was seen by a policeman while she wasn't in her seat that she would get a ticket. She never undid her seat agian. Does everyone else in your car always wear a seat belt? she could be picking up a bad habit from someone else>
Good luck

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