For most parents, the first two car seat related tasks will be installing the base to an infant seat and adjust the straps on the carrier to fit a tiny newborn.
This can seem intimidating, since the instruction books are written in legalese. They are also very thick.
Not to fret, this is not hard! It’s easier to practice a time or two at home though. With my first baby I ended up changing them from my hospital bed at 5 hours postpartum. Not the most fun I’d ever had.
Start with a seat.
First step is to remove the infant insert. This one just pulls out. Some use snaps. For others you may have to wait until you remove the shoulder straps – we’ll do that next!
Now flip the seat over and look at the back.
Looking at the back you can see how the shoulder straps go through the seat and under that plastic piece (referred to in the manual as the instruction manual storage spot. Obviously my manual is a computer printout and doesn’t fit here.) Then somehow they turn into one strap. If you pull them down, you will see how.
The splitter, or metal junction plate is attached to the shoulder straps on one side and the strap you pull to tighten them on the the other. To change the height of the harness straps, take one of the straps off of the splitter plate.
Now pull the strap all the way back to the front of the seat.
Now use the smallest slots and thread the strap back through. If your infant insert needs to have the harness threaded through it, do that now.
All right, now for the trickiest part. On seats that have a plastic cover (the instruction manual storage spot I was talking about earlier) you MUST put the harness strap back underneath it. It’s supposed to help the harness slide easier.
Look at the end of the strap. Some straps will have just one hole. If yours does, reattach it to the splitter plate. If your strap seems to have more than one hole, use the shortest one. This will help you tighten the straps more easily on a smaller baby. (Don’t forget that you’ve done it though, or else you’ll think the seat was outgrown early!)
The next bit is easy. Do the same thing again on the other side. When you are done it should look like this:
Now, some seats also have the option to shorten the hip or waist straps. This is the other end of the strap where it comes through the shell of the seat by the baby’s bottom.
Pry the clip up from the shell.
Now that the anchor is in your hand, take it out and move it to the innermost hole.
Do the same thing on the other side.
And that’s it. Now, just buckle your baby in.
Have a safe and happy first ride!