How to Stop Your Child from Unbuckling Their Car Seat

How to Stop Your Child from Unbuckling Their Car Seat

by / Monday, 10 October 2022 / Published in Tips
A parent adjusts the straps on a car seat while the child smiles.

Car seats play a critical role in helping children stay safe in the event of a car crash. While child deaths in car accidents have significantly declined since the 1970s, automobile accidents remain a leading cause of death among children. In 2021, it was reported that, on average, a child is involved in a crash while riding in a passenger vehicle every 25 seconds. This works out to over 500 children each day, or 183,000 children per year, being injured in car accidents. When used correctly, child car seats can help reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers. 

Getting maximum protection from a child car seat hinges on them being used correctly. Any parent can tell you all about how tricky it can be to find the right seat, make sure the seat is installed correctly, and get the straps adjusted just right. But no matter how hard you try to get the car seat set up correctly, all that protection can be lost if your child has a bad habit of unbuckling the car seat themselves. 

Many parents struggle with having kids who are little escape artists while in their car seat. So what can you do to prevent them from unbuckling themselves?

Talk to Them

Kids spend several years riding in car or booster seats. Michigan law requires children to be in booster seats until they are 8 years old or 4’9” tall. But while children who are old enough to be in school may be able to understand that seat belts shouldn’t be unbuckled while a car is being driven, younger kids may need some extra help learning that principle. Think about how you can teach your child to not touch their seat belt in a way they can understand. For example, is there a way to make keeping their car seat buckled seem like a game? Just be sure to explain it using a calm, playful tone of voice.

Check the Fit

In some cases, a child might start playing around with their car seat straps because they aren’t comfortable. Check to see if the straps are adjusted correctly. Are they too tight? Too loose? Has the child recently outgrown the seat? Simply readjusting the straps may be enough to prevent any future attempts to unbuckle their seat. 

Another thing that may make a child uncomfortable in the car seat is wearing bulky clothing while in the seat. Make sure things like bulky coats are removed before putting them in the car seat since they can interfere with the fit of the straps. 

Offer Distractions

Sometimes, kids can be tempted to play with their car seat straps out of boredom and a simple distraction will be enough to keep them buckled in. This could include giving them a toy to play with, encouraging them to sing songs, or road trip style games like looking for certain things to count along the way. 

Get Some Practice

For children and adults alike, being able to put things into practice can be an effective way to learn new concepts. Once you’ve taken steps to prevent your child from unbuckling their car seat, try taking some practice drives around the neighborhood to see if your techniques have been effective. If your child unbuckles their seat, pull over and stop until they’re buckled up again. Stay calm and patient, but it’s important for them to understand that there are consequences if they don’t stay buckled up.

Contact a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer

When children are injured in car accidents, the effects can potentially impact their lives for years to come and it’s important to make sure all of their care needs will be met, both today and in the future. If your child has been injured, don’t hesitate to contact a car accident lawyer to get answers to any questions you have and learn about your legal options. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to get help from a lawyer experienced in Michigan car accident law. Contact us today to find out how we can help.