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Loose child seats and loose harness straps are the most frequent flubs, according to the Accident Analysis and Prevention study, which examined 4,126 vehicles in six different states. Pediatrician Alisa Baer, M.D., aka “the Car Seat Lady” (carseatlady.org), who has been an expert on car seat safety for more than 10 years, explains that the car seat must be secured so it doesn’t budge more than an inch in any direction. Likewise, the harness straps should be pulled so they are very snug.

On most seats, after buckling in your baby, you’ll need to pull up on the shoulder straps to tighten them, then tug on the tail (if your car seat has one) to remove any remaining slack, Baer advises. To determine whether it’s snug enough, use the “one-finger” test: If only one finger fits between the straps and your child’s collarbone, she should be good to go.

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