Is Your Child Sliding Their Arms Out of the Car Seat Straps?

Car seat safety is so important, and we have a real-life question today!

This week, a reader e-mailed us asking,  “My 2 year old keeps sliding his arms out of the top straps of the car seat. It doesn’t matter how tight I make them he wiggles his way out. I understand it’s a phase, but it’s too dangerous to just wait for it to pass. Any ideas how to get his to stop?”

Toddlers have a hard time not doing exactly what they want, resisting the urge, but sometimes you need to teach them to stop because of safety.

secure child in car seat

We had answers flooding in, so we knew that it was an issue that many of us (yes, us) have had to deal with… today, we are giving you our best advice!

  • Be sure that the shoulder straps are in the right place.  If they are too high, it leaves too much room for their arms.
  • Talk to your child.  Teaching  your child right from wrong is important, but don’t wait until it happens.  Talk about it to your child every time that you get into the car.
  • “Make an appointment with an agency/organization in your area to have them inspect your car seat and make sure it is installed correctly.  It’s amazing what you can learn about car seat installation and safety and they may be able to give you some advice to prevent your child from removing her straps. Proper install seems like it’s way too tight for the child and maybe uncomfortable but think of how uncomfortable your child would be if you were in an accident and he/she were injured! Anyway, hope you find a solution.”
  •  Important fact: 9 out of 10 people have car seats installed incorrectly. Perhaps the straps are not tight enough to contain those wiggly arms. If installed correctly, your toddler should not be able to have much wiggle room at all. Check with your local police department to find a certified car seat installer in your area, and get a FREE check of your seat.
  •  Try to consistently, each time, to “put it back.”   I’ve noticed that the frequency of her doing this is decreased after I made her put her arms back in each time.    I don’t think they can grasp a safety lecture at this point but they can follow simple commands.
  • “Just pull over (into a safe place) whenever you notice that she is not buckled properly and wait, don’t say anything to her. After a few minutes if she doesn’t put her arms back in then ask her to do so and then you can continue to drive.”
  • My 3 year old is now responsible for getting into his seat and buckling himself in. His little brother 22 months is responsible for buckling the top section. They both know that the car won’t leave the drive way until everyone is safely buckled. The first week that we started this I would turn around in the drivers seat and encourage them with you can do it’s and a congratulations when they finished. And it did take about 15 minutes of waiting and encouraging to learn how to buckle up for safety (we talked about Dora while practicing). Remember to practice when you’re not in a rush and you are taking the child to a place she wants to go so that if you get their late it won’t matter to you, but will bother her a lot.
  • We reacted with total horror and accidentally made her cry (she was proud of her achievement of getting her arms out). So we explained to her why we were so alarmed and taught her to only unbuckle herself after we parked and we say she can. It took a couple weeks to teach her the difference between parked and stopped at a light, but we never had another problem.

This can be very scary, but these suggestions combined with talking to the fire department about car seat safety, should really help.   While these are all reader suggestions and we haven’t tried each one of them, we encourage you to pick  ones that will fit with your child and give it a try.

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