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GRACO: Is your car seat doing more harm than good?

(NC) Installing a car seat for your youngster sounds simple enough, but it turns out you may be accidentally putting your child at risk. A recent survey of Canadian parents hosted on Angus Reid Forum found that nearly half of them find car seat standards confusing and a quarter do not feel well informed on the topic. Here, Erin Varano, a certified passenger safety technician with Graco, highlights a few common mistakes that even the most well-meaning parents make.

Harness is too loose. While installing a car seat, it is important to read both the vehicle and car seat manuals before first-time use. When tightening the harness, it should be snug to the child and only allow room for one finger or less between the buckle and their body. It is also good practice to ensure that no crumbs or dirt have fallen into the buckles so the harness clicks into place.

Not accounting for winter clothing. Although keeping your child warm in the cooler months is a priority, when they are buckled in a car seat a bulky jacket can interfere with the harness and cause the buckles to be too loose for complete effectiveness. Because of this, Transport Canada’s recommendations on car seat installation and use suggest parents ensure the harness system is tight, compressing winter clothing for a snug fit.

Switching to forward-facing too soon. Transport Canada says rear-facing car seats are the safest position for your child and that they can remain in that position as long as they are below the height and weight limits. Some car seats, like Graco®’s Extend2Fit® Convertible Car Seat, feature a four-position extension panel that provides five inches of extra legroom, allowing children to safely ride rear-facing longer.

Even seasoned parents can benefit from visiting a local car seat clinic where experts will review installation and safety requirements. Find more information at

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