Car Seat Safety – Are My Shoulder Straps/Harness Tight Enough?

Did you know there is a correct position for your child’s car seat shoulder strap/harness? Many parents unknowingly strap their children into their car seats in an incorrect position. This is not done on purpose, of course, but it could cause some unthinkable problems if you find yourself in a car accident. Even the slightest collision could affect your child in their car seat, and whilst your Geico Auto Insurance policy (read the geico reviews here) can provide you with some protection, they won’t be able to protect you from the emotions of losing a child. I know this doesn’t bear thinking about, but you do need to make sure that you are not placing them in an incorrect position, as this can compromise the overall safety of the car seat. I did not know about the correct positioning of Bunny’s car seat shoulder strap/harness until a friend of mine, who is also a car seat safety technician, told me the proper way to secure Bunny’s car seat shoulder strap/harness. I am here to pass on this knowledge.


Bunny’s ride home from the hospital. We removed the should strap pads because they were hindering the ability to tighten her straps as tight as they needed to be. (I did call Orbit Baby to make sure it is okay to remove those pads. It is 🙂 Notice how there is slack in her straps? They should be snug and tight against her little body.


The correct positioning of car seat shoulder strap/harness, for a rear facing car seat is at or below the child’s shoulders. This is because, in the event of a collision, when rear facing the child is likely to slide upward in a crash. Having the shoulder strap/harness at or below the child’s shoulders prevents the child from moving upward and helps keep their body in the right position. Most convertible car seats have three slots for the shoulder strap/harness. The lowest two are for rear facing and the highest slot is for forward facing only. The correct positioning of a car seat shoulder strap/harness for a forward facing car seat is at or above the child’s shoulders.

The shoulder strap/harness need to be tight on baby’s body. The shoulder strap/harness need to be tight enough on baby’s body to keep baby in the car seat in the event of a crash. Too loose straps run the risk of letting baby get ejected from the car seat. The shoulder strap/harness should be tight enough that you can NOT pinch the straps. There should be no slack in the shoulder strap/harness. The shoulder straps and harness need to be tight enough so you can only fit one finger in between baby’s body and the straps. Make sure the shoulder strap/harness are not twisted or tangled. They must lay flat against baby’s body. Once baby is buckled in the car seat you should always test the shoulder straps/harness to make sure they are tight enough. Tug on the “tail” of the shoulder straps/harness to tighten. Once the shoulder strap/harness has been secured and tightened, do the “pinch test” by trying to pinch some of the shoulder strap/harness between your finger and thumb. You should not be able to pinch any amount of the shoulder strap/harness. If you are able to pinch the shoulder strap/harness, your shoulder strap/harness needs to be tightened. I sometimes have to repeat this step until there is no more slack in Bunny’s shoulder strap/harness.

“A snug but comfortable harness is important for good crash protection, because the more tightly that occupants are belted, the more they can take advantage of “ride-down” with the vehicle. If there is a lot of slack in the harness at the time of a crash, the child first moves forward unrestrained but is then abruptly stopped by the loose straps. This can cause greater injury than if the straps were already snugly against the child’s body.” From Child Safety Technical Encyclopedia.

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