Choosing the correct car seat for your baby is one of the first big decisions parents make.
Before your baby is even born, you likely spent hours researching which car seat to buy. You chose one you believe will be easy to use and will keep your baby safe and secure. But did you think about how much time you will spend in other people’s cars?
If you live in a city where you will use taxis or rideshare services like Uber and Lyft or you travel to areas where you will use them, you’ll want to consider buying a car seat you can install without a base.
Baseless car seat installation can be tricky. These tips will turn you into a pro.
Pick the right seat for a baseless car seat installation
When it comes to infant bucket style seats there are two major types: standard and European belt path. Most infant carriers come with bases for convenience sake. This means that parents can just plop them onto the already installed bases, listen for the click and go. The majority of these car seats can also be installed without the snap in base following some simple steps.
Most parents examine safety ratings and ease of install before they buy a car seat. But if you will be using rideshares and taxis regularly, consider buying one with a feature called “European belt path.” A European belt path allows you to stretch the shoulder part of the seat belt behind the infant car seat and secure it through a special “belt path” on the back. That gives the car seat two spots where the seat belt holds it in rather than just one.
A baseless car seat installation is possible even without a European belt path. But the second anchor will give you peace of mind if you regularly travel with baby.
Practice makes perfect when it comes to baseless car seat installation
Don’t let the first time you install a car seat with no base be when you need to. Practice makes perfect. Try installing the seat — both with and without the baby in it — before you travel. Practice before you go, more than once.
Practice installing the seat on both the center of the back seat and the sides. Studies have shown that the center position in the back seat can be up to 43 percent safer for baby. But some center seats bump out a bit, which can make installation tricky.
What is the right installation? One that you feel confident is secure. So go with what you feel most comfortable.
How to Install a Car Seat with No Base
Let’s walk step by step through a baseless car seat installation.
- Place your car seat, rear-facing, on the vehicle seat.
- Pull out the seat belt; thread the lap section through the lap belt guides on the car seat.
- Put the shoulder belt portion through making sure it lies flat. (If your car seat has a European belt path you will pull the shoulder belt behind the car seat and secure it in that belt path.)
- Buckle the safety belt.
- Pull down on the shoulder belt to activate the locking mechanism.
- Push on the car seat and pull on the safety belt to make sure your installation is tight. The seat should not move more than one inch if you try to wiggle it.
- Double check that the seat is level.
Checklist for a Baseless Car Seat Installation
You’ve practiced installation and you’re ready for your first trip. Here are a few last minute hints to be sure the baseless car seat installation goes smoothly.
- Have your infant buckled into the car seat and ready to go. Remember that the same rules apply as in your own car, so be sure the child is securely strapped in without any poofy coats or unsafe car seat add-ons.
- Going in a taxi? Tell the driver to start the meter while you install. This will relieve some of the “rushed” feeling and allow you to put your full attention on the install without the driver getting frustrated.
- Perform the above mentioned installation instructions.
- Before you shut the door to the car make sure the seat is tight (no more than one inch of wiggle in any direction), level (check your car seat manual to see what the visual on the car seat should look like), and that the seat belt is locked.
- Never shut the door until the car seat is fully installed. This signals to the driver that you are ready to go!
Good luck and happy travels with your baby!