Babies are wonderful little bundles of joy, but, spoiler alert! They bring a terror you’ve never known. The fact that you are now in charge of keeping a whole other human alive will hit you very soon after you leave the hospital, usually when you are strapping said human into a car for the first time.
There is something about that first car seat installation that can send even the coolest human being into a cold sweat panic. If you are totally freaked out about your car seat installation, fear not. You are not alone. It confuses the shit out of the best of us.
Chrissy Teigen posted a blunt tweet that sums up the feeling of installing a car seat for the first time:
We feel you, Chrissy. We really do.
Look, car seats are not an unsolvable riddle. They just feel like they are because the manuals are ridiculously confusing, there are all sorts of weird belts everywhere, and no matter what happens you will be convinced you’re doing it wrong.
FAILURE TO PROPERLY USE THIS CHILD RESTRAINT INCREASES THE RISK OF SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH IN A SUDDEN STOP OR CRASH.
Yeah, messages like this don’t help. That’s on the cover of just one manual. And there’s an actual table of contents for the instructions:
We’re not done…
That’s the freaking table of contents! And that’s followed by NINE pages of warnings that are filled with words like DEATH and SERIOUS CRIPPLING INJURY. I need a drink after reading it. It’s 9:30 a.m.
Then the manuals are filled with images like this:
Huh? This makes putting together an entertainment system from IKEA feel like a walk in the park.
The good news is, it’s not as hard as it looks. It’s really not. Babble compiled a list of common mistakes parents make, and just heeding this advice will help a lot. The Car Seat Lady is an amazing resource for tips. She answers literally every question you could ever have about installing car seats, provides video, and keeps an updated blog about recalls and other car seat-related news. Safe Kids is also a wonderful resource. They have a tool on site that helps you find car seat check up events in your area.
Yes, car seat installation can be confusing and intimidating — but there are plenty of resources to help you. The Car Seat Lady reports the misuse rate for car seats at 90%. There is no reason for this when there are resources to help you, beyond your confusing manual.