By Steven W., busy dad and our family blogger
Bringing your first newborn home from the hospital can be a daunting task for new parents. In particular, dealing with car seat installation can be frustrating, at best. Here are some tips to help get you and your car seat prepared.
Before the Big Day
1) Get the car seat, now
You will need a rear-facing infant car seat to take your newborn home from the hospital.
Don’t wait until the last minute to buy it and install it. Get one somewhere around week 30, or sooner.
Steven’s Tip: I recommend getting the type that detaches from the base. That way you can get a sleeping baby out of the car easily, without waking him or her up.
2) Do a dry run of the car seat installation
- First, read through the installation guide to give you an idea on how to install the car seat, but don’t expect everything to be crystal clear. You may want to visit the car seat manufacturer’s website, in hopes that they have a helpful installation video. If your car has LATCH anchor points (and most newer cars do), plan on using them. Otherwise, use the seatbelt method.
- Next, give yourself an unrushed hour to try to install the car seat the first time. After connecting all of the connectors, buckles, and tethers, pull the belts until snug, but do not tighten them. Take a step back and make sure the installation is right, none of the belts or straps are twisted, and give them all a good wiggle and tug.
- After you are convinced everything is right, then start tightening each of the straps. Put a knee on the car seat and lean your weight into it as you tighten the straps. You want it to be snug-fitting installation.
3) Do the final car seat installation
Now evaluate the installation. Does it look right? Do you have any questions? Take a break, and consult the installation guide and website over the next week.
The next weekend you may need to take it completely out, make some adjustments, and install it again. Don’t worry about it, this is why you are starting early! Again, give yourself an hour. (After installing car seats dozens of times, it still takes me 15-20 minutes to put one in!)
TOP TIP: Get an expert opinion.
If you want an expertâ€™s opinion, many states offer car seat evaluation appointments with the highway patrol or at local seat inspection stations.
Eventually your car seat will be all set for the big day, and even if that day arrives a little sooner than planned, you will be ready.
4) Make an Emergency Information card
Make and put an emergency information card on the side of the car seat. A simple 3×5 card with the childâ€™s name and some emergency contact phone numbers will give you peace of mind.
5) Fill out the warranty card
This is the one and only warranty card that I fill out. You want to be the first to be notified if there is a safety recall on the car seat. This happens more often than you would expect.
On the Big Day
6) Bring the car seat into your room, early
Early in the morning on the big day that you will be taking your newborn home from the hospital, take the car seat out of your car and bring it into the hospital room. This shows the nurses that you have the required car seat, but more importantly, the car seat will adjust to room temperature and also give you an opportunity to test fit your newborn.
7) Test fit your newborn
A few hours before you will be checking out of the hospital, put your newborn in the car seat for a test fit. Adjust the straps as necessary for a snug fit, then take your newborn back out.
Now when the big moment arrives to leave the hospital, you will easily be able to put your newborn into the car seat with a minimum of hassle or delay. Congratulations!
The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional advice. These tips are from people who have shared their real life advice; always check with appropriate professionals you trust in making your purchasing or life-related decisions.Â