A Public Service Announcement for Dads (and Anyone Else Removing a Car Seat Base that Didn’t See it Installed)

Infant car seat bases are pretty much the coolest thing ever. EVER. We can buckle the lad into his car seat in the house, where we have plenty of room and plenty of light to maneuver the intricate and many-numbered straps and buckles and then snap the car seat into the base that’s already firmly installed in whichever car we’re planning to take out. Genius. We’re getting to a phase where hauling him around inside the car seat is a little less desirable (his 18-pound weight is a big factor here), but up to this point the car seat base has been a dear, beloved friend.

Awhile ago, Scott needed to take my car out to pick up the pre-assembled grill we bought. Or maybe it was the yard furniture. I don’t know. Whatever the case, my Rav4 beats out his Civic when it comes to “hauling things around.” I handed over my keys and went back to playing with the tiny one, assuming that he was long gone on his errand. What seemed like a long time later, Scott came back into the house. He looked…harried. Stressed. Slightly embarrassed.

“You’ve got to show me how to get this base out of your car.”

Oh, really? I follow him into the garage. Sure enough, Scott has removed one of the rear seats, but the one with the car seat base attached is still in my car. Mocking him.

“I’ve tried everything. It’s just in there too tight, I can’t reach the clips. I thought I could get the whole seat out without removing it, but I can’t do that either.” No, I wouldn’t think so. The seat is designed to be removed only if it’s folded up. I was starting to feel pretty sorry for the guy…although part of me was on the verge of giggling, too.

“Is there some secret?” he asks as I lean into the car. A few seconds later, the base has been removed. I look apologetically at Scott, who’s now annoyed at himself for not being able to figure it out. I showed him what I’d done, feeling a little superior all the while. It seemed pretty obvious to me!

Fast forward a few weeks, and my mom and I were hitting the neighborhood garage sale. At one house, a family of what had to be multiples were selling a plethora of baby supplies. Four infant car seats, five bases, two pack ‘n plays, two swings…I noticed that the bases happened to be the same kind as our car seat. I suggested to my mom that she should pick one up so we wouldn’t have to switch my base in and out of our cars when she watched LilRunr. She agreed, and I started negotiating with the guy to buy JUST a base. He tried to sell me one that didn’t have the restraining strap. “The police officer installed it too tightly,” he says. “When I needed to get it out of the car, I couldn’t do it without cutting the straps.”

Palm. To. Forehead. At least that wasn’t the fate of OUR base, but what is going on here?

On the way back, my mom suggested something that makes perfect sense. I’m going to share that secret here to save dads and anyone from much frustration and car seat bases from needless mutilation.

The Secret: 

This is a picture of the car seat base installed in my car. As you can see, we have it behind the passenger seat. (It won’t fit in the middle seat securely because of the way my seats fold.) The base is installed VERY tightly — I believe the manual says that there shouldn’t be more than a quarter of an inch of give in any direction.

Car Seat Base

What you can’t see in this picture (hence the problem for Scott, garage sale dad, and potentially anyone who’s never installed one of these things) is the buckle. The car seat base is held in place by a strap with these hook/clasp things on both ends. The clasps go into these metal rings installed in the seat, and then the base can be tightened into the seat by pulling on the end of the strap. The strap is sort of like an old-fashioned seat belt — the non-shoulder kind. If the car seat base is installed on the passenger side of the car, you won’t see this tightening/loosening mechanism from your vantage point at the passenger door.

Car Seat Base - Top View

So, if  you know the buckle is there, loosening it makes unclipping the base from the seat a snap. If you don’t know about it, trying to remove the base becomes this impossible, frustrating fight. With only a “quarter inch of give,” there’s simply not enough room to unclip the strap. Which is probably the whole point of the design, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating if, say, you have a spouse who is a control freak and insisted on installing and getting the bases inspected herself, and then forgot to tell you how they went into the car in the first place. Oops.

That ends this segment of “Megan helps explain baby things.” Come back next week for a detailed explanation of bottle assembly. Sheesh, those suckers have soooo many parts!


2 responses

  1. Love the story! All things baby require a partnership, otherwise you end up cut/breaking/tearing just to get what you need. After 3 babies, the only problem we still have is Hubs tightening the sippy cup lids too tight, making it nearly or sometimes actually impossible for me to fill said cup with much needed milk.

    That said, I’ve broken many fingernails on baby things, and am grateful we are done with bases and backward facing gadgets. 🙂

    Found your blog through your twitter, which I found through my brother Jimmy G. I’ll be back!

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