car seat safety refresher from BayCare Kids

On the Road Again… But are you using your child’s car seat correctly?

Probably not. Time for a Car Seat Safety refresher.

The research is out there, friends. Many parents and caregivers are not using their children’s car seats correctly. It’s obviously not intentional: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most parents believe their child’s car seats ARE installed the right way, but almost half (46%) are not. And then there’s the question of whether your child is USING it correctly.

Tonya Randolph, Bay Care Kids’ children’s wellness and safety specialist, tells us it’s rare to see a family with a correctly installed seat. The truth is, it can be overwhelming.

Common Mistakes Parents Make:

  • Not switching the retractor with the lap and shoulder belt
  • Using the lower anchors in the upside-down position
  • Incorrect use of lower anchor and seat belt
  • Adding products to the car seat that did not come with the car seat
  • Turning children around to forward-facing too soon (child should be rear-facing until at least 2 years of age)
  • Shoulder harnesses are too low, too high or not snug enough
  • Retainer clip is too low or too high
  • Seats move more than one inch
  • Moving kids out of booster seats too early (before they max out the height or weight limit of that booster seat)
  • Not realizing that different states or countries have different child restraint laws

It’s a lot to take in. We know.

The good news is, these are all easy fixes, whether you go through your car seat manual and correct mistakes on your own, or book an appointment with a certified technician. We promise it is worth the time and effort.

Visit to easily book a certified car seat safety technician near you and find the right seat for your child and/or vehicle. (There may be a small fee for the appointment depending on location.)


Are Some Car Seats Safer than Others?

Tonya Randolph: All car seats out on the market pass the same safety standards. A couple of manufacturers may add what we call a couple of extra bells and whistles. It just varies on what the families are looking for. But any car seat that’s out on the market has passed all those safety standards and it’s ok to use.


Florida Law Requires…

  • Children ages 5 and under to be secured properly in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device.
  • The use of seat belts or child restraint devices by drivers of motor vehicles, all front seat passengers and all children riding in a vehicle under 18.

Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles

Originally published in the July 2024 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.