Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Monroe Carell Jr.
Children's Hospital
at Vanderbilt
2200 Children's Way
Nashville, TN 37232

(615) 936-1000

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Frequently Asked Questions


How do parents know if they are using a car seat correctly?

The three biggest mistakes regarding child restraints are:

  1. Not putting the seat in tightly enough
  2. Not tightening the straps snugly across the child
  3. Not tightly securing the harness-retainer clip, which should be at armpit level across the child's chest

Children's Hospital has several resources on car seat safety, including choosing the right seat for your child's age, weight, and height. Parents should read their car/booster seat manual for the proper installation. It is also important to read the vehicle manufacturer manual for information on best seat location, how to engage the seat belt locking system, and other tips.

Lastly, check for a snug fit. A correctly installed child seat should not move more than one inch side to side or forward.

High back boosterWhich brand of booster seat is the best? 

The best booster seat is the one that fits your child and your vehicle, and one you will use correctly every time. You should follow the age, weight, and height recommendations on the seat label.

Remember that almost all booster seats must be used with a lap and shoulder belt system. If your vehicle does not have a lap and shoulder belt system, please call for assistance or refer to our car seat safety webpage. Find the booster seat that fits your child and car best. 

Go to stores with the child who will use the seat and the vehicle the seat will go in. Try strapping your child into the different kinds and brands of seats in the store. Some stores will even let you put them in the car before you make a purchase. Just ask the store manager.

Should parents get their car seats inspected?

As certified car seat technicians, we find that 85 percent of car seats are installed incorrectly. Although a lot of improvements have been made in recent years to make car seat installation easier, it is still a challenge.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Safe Kids Coalition offer car safety seat checks in your area. Visit NHTSA and Safe Kids for more information.

Can parents hold newborns in their laps?

Everyone at every age, newborns through adults, needs to be restrained properly. People who do not wear seat belts are more than 14 times more likely to have neck injuries and five times more likely to die if thrown from the vehicle. Even a relatively minor crash at 30 miles per hour can be extremely violent.

A 10-pound infant in a motor vehicle moving at 30 miles per hour would require at least 300 pounds of force to be restrained in a crash. No one could hold an infant with those sudden forces. Motor vehicle injuries are preventable. Be a role model by wearing your seat belt every time.

Last Edited: June 13, 2016
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