Okay, dumb question here.
I know how to install a car seat. No problem installing our first seat with a separate base. However, we've now moved to the second seat where everything is in one unit. It's still rear facing at this point.

Now, my question: How the heck do you get the thing tight enough so it doesn't move?

Using the latch system, putting my full weight on the seat when I pull the strap, I get it so I can't get the strap any tighter. But no matter what I do, the seat will go side to side more than an inch. (Maybe 2 inches.)

I've tried with and within a foam wedge.

Any suggestions on getting the correct leverage to be able to pull the strap? Do they make replacement straps that have a "real" ratcheting system?

asked 21 Feb '10, 23:17

Rahn's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


+1 Good question. (Definitely not a dumb question.) :)

(22 Feb '10, 00:57) cat_g

Forget about the foam wedges, and go buy yourself a pool noodle or two. Get the solid ones, rather than the hollow ones, as you want them to be as firm as possible. They do sell "car seat installation foam bars" at Babies R Us and other baby stores, but they're just grey pool noodles cut to standard car-seat widths, at 5 times the price. Since you may need more than one, just buy a pool noodle.

Cut 2 lengths of noodle to match the width of your carseat base plus some overhang (1 to 2 inches per side). Stuff one into the seat crack, and place a second one on top, then place your seat on top.

Now, you're ready to install the seat. Clip on both sides of the LATCH/UAS anchors and tighten it a bit, then climb up into the seat (for me, I usually just put a knee into the seat and put all of my weight on it, but I'm not a small guy) and pull the free end as tight as you can.

If this doesn't get your seat tight enough, take the seat off, add another length of pool noodle, and repeat.

As mentioned in other posts, your local fire department or ambulance service may offer car-seat installation inspections, or may even install the seats for you. Here in Ottawa, we have S.E.A.T.S. for Kids, which is a nonprofit group that does inspections and runs certification classes for carseat installers.


answered 22 Feb '10, 03:15

dave0's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%

I've heard of using the pool noodle before,but we already had the foam wedges from when the babies were born. I'm putting my knee on the seat and bracing against the roof to push down, which should be giving plenty of pressure.

(23 Feb '10, 12:16) Rahn

Well, it's not just the pressure. You want the foam under the seat to compress under the pressure, then expand when the pressure is released to fill up the gap so that the seat remains snug. It may be that your wedges aren't dense enough foam to do that, particularly after being used before.

(24 Feb '10, 02:01) dave0

Hmmm...you know, I hadn't thought of the wedge being too compressed from prior use. I guess that makes sense, since it does have a bunch of permanent creases/dents in it from it's first use.

(24 Feb '10, 12:04) Rahn

Great question. Here we have the UAS straps, similar to LATCH.

I've recently noticed that it's much easier to get the carseat rock-solid tight in Tammy's newer vehicle than it was in the old vehicle. It seems to have to do with the car's seat design, not the design of the infant seat.

In my vehicle I found it much easier to get the seat really tight using the seat belt rather than the UAS system. That link I posted above says that the seat belt and UAS are both safe ways to put the seat in the vehicle. When you use the seatbelt, pull it all the way out first and that will engage the ratchet mechanism. Then you might be able to get it tighter by putting your weight on the seat (as you're already doing) and pushing the seat belt back towards the retraction mechanism to take up the slack.

If all else fails, your local fire department will usually be willing to make an attempt.

Here's a video about installing a car seat using both the LATCH and seatbelt. It covers rear and forward facing. However, at around 4 minutes in it says that if you can't get it to fit right, it might not be well suited to your vehicle. One of the tricks using the seatbelt was to twist the female seatbelt receptacle a couple of times to lower the height of it so that it doesn't hit the plastic of the carseat. At the end of the video, they also point to a couple of websites where you can find professionals to inspect the installation, one of which was SafeKids.org.


answered 21 Feb '10, 23:32

Scott's gravatar image

Scott ♦♦
accept rate: 10%

edited 21 Feb '10, 23:49


I've tried this particular seat in three different cars, and it's gone into one of them decently. Naturally, it's the one we don't own. :) Good idea about twisting the seatbelt. I'll try again using the seatbelt to see how it goes.

(22 Feb '10, 01:00) Rahn

I vaguely recall from my past life in engineering that a twisted seat belt is far less able to absorb shocks than a straight one, I'm looking for a reference now, but it is certainly recommended to avoid twisting: http://www.childcarseats.org.uk/standards/r4403.htm

(22 Feb '10, 09:55) Rich Seller

@Rich: I was thinking about that, but this video with a car seat installation inspector clearly showed it. To be honest, I'm not even sure this 1" thing even matters. It's probably an arbitrary number made up by the manufacturers so they can claim the seat wasn't installed correctly in an accident.

(22 Feb '10, 10:18) Scott ♦♦

Tried the seatbelt, but it didn't get any tighter, so went back to the latch belt. I was able to get it pretty good, and will work on it more later. (Hoping it settles in a bit.)

(23 Feb '10, 12:13) Rahn

I'm not sure what type of vehicle you drive, but I have found in my Dodge Journey if I recline my backseats I can get the carseat latch strap super tight. While the seats are reclined, tighten the latch straps as tight as you possibly can, then straighten your seat back up to its proper position (make sure it locks upright as it normally would be) then check the carseat. This works in my Dodge Journey every time and I've never had an issue with my carseats! My seats barely move at all!


answered 22 Feb '10, 01:34

Shannon%20B's gravatar image

Shannon B
accept rate: 9%

That's a good tip... thanks!

(22 Feb '10, 02:11) Scott ♦♦

+1 we have to recline the seats a bit to get the infant seat in too.

(22 Feb '10, 02:42) Fun2Dream

I had actually tried this before posting the question. Didn't quite work for me, but may try again.

(23 Feb '10, 12:17) Rahn

In the UK, I'd recommend going to somewhere like Halfords that has a qualified car seat fitter who can show you how and offer advice and information. Not every branch might have one though, I don't know exactly.


answered 22 Feb '10, 10:23

pete%20the%20pagan-gerbil's gravatar image

pete the pagan-gerbil
accept rate: 5%


This is also possible in the US. There are seat inspection stations, at least in my state, in every county. They are done either through the Fire Department or Police Station, depending on the county. Babies R Us also has seat inspections about once a month at many locations. I think it's a great idea to have an inspector install the seat for you!

(23 Feb '10, 02:02) Fun2Dream

You say that you put your weight on the seat. Although I've never installed a convertible seat, for our infant seat, I have to actually sit on the seat (i.e. put ALL of my weight on it).

Also, I'm sure you're not running into this problem since you've installed other seats in this car (presumably), but when I rented a car once, I tried to use the LATCH and wound up trying to connect the carseat LATCH system to some other bars in the seat that weren't actually the LATCH anchors. So, my advice here is to make sure you're attaching to the right anchors.


answered 22 Feb '10, 02:44

Fun2Dream's gravatar image

accept rate: 10%

Hehe, I can see doing that, but no, I'm using the right anchors.

(23 Feb '10, 12:18) Rahn
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Asked: 21 Feb '10, 23:17

Seen: 14,950 times

Last updated: 22 Feb '10, 10:23