how to keep toddler from unbuckling car seat
Toddler Safety

How To Keep Toddler From Unbuckling Car Seat

Many parents try to combat the issue of how to keep toddler from unbuckling car seat to no avail. It’s an all too familiar scenario for parents and can have fatal consequences if left unchecked.

So what do you to keep your toddler from unbuckling their car seat? and what is the process to learn how to stop toddler escaping from car seat? We will answer this and more in this short article.

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It can be a parents nightmare to hear that ‘unclick’ sound in the middle of rush hour traffic and having their child roaming around in the car unchecked and unprotected.

It’s a scary thought that it can happen anywhere and at any time and most parents go to extreme measures to stop it from happening due to the risk of danger.

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Learning how to keep toddler from unbuckling car seat is about trial and error. Some children are advanced so you will need to have smarter tactics to keep them safe while driving. Try to be proactive and think ahead.

How To Keep Toddler From Unbuckling Car Seat: 5 Safe Strategies

1. Explain Robust Safety To Your child.

Most children above the age of 3 will be able to comprehend the importance of car safety and road safety. Explain why your child must wear their harness and how it keeps them safe. Some parents use a song or play to make this safety issue more playful and it can work well for younger children.

2. Distract Them

Toddlers and young children usually get very bored in the car. They use this boredom to explore around them and their safety harness is an interesting place to start.

Try to curb this boredom by giving them adequate toys that stimulate them for the duration of the journey.

3. Practice Safety

If you have a very intelligent child who has learned to unbuckle their car seat with ease then you could try to take some practice drives and install some restrictions. Toddlers learn well from repeat activities so try and drum in the safety requirement of keeping buckled up as often as possible.

Whilst driving around your local area pull over anytime your child unbuckles their car seat. Don’t’ shout or tell them to put it back on, as they might see it as a game.

Instead, warn about safety and remind them that you can’t drive until they put it back on. With enough practice, this should do the trick.

4. Consequences for repeat offenders!

If your child still doesn’t understand the magnitude of the issue then remind them that every time they unbuckle their seat there will be a consequence.

Start off low key and crank it up if the problem persists. Things like not being able to go to the park, no dessert after dinner or early bedtime usually work.

5. Be consistent

Once you have formed a habit around car seat safety make sure you stick to it.  Always remind your child to keep safe and if they do unbuckle their car seat mid-journey you should always pull over (when it’s safe to do)

This will remind them of the consequences and repetition will soon form a long-lasting rule.

What about seat harness clips?

Kevin Clinton from the Royal Society for the Prevent of Accidents (RoSPA) advises against them. Any safety clips that have not been purposely designed by the manufacturer will have inherent flaws.

These flaws cause unforeseen problems and may put your child at risk. One such risk is the inability to open a safety clip in an emergency.

How To Stop Toddler Escaping From Car Seat

Learning how to stop toddler escaping from car seat is important. Escaping from your car seat is just as bad as unbuckling your car seat but the important difference is this is much easier to resolve.

Escaping from a car be harder to detect as smarter children can adjust and readjust car seat straps to make it appear as if they are safely buckled when they are in fact not.

The biggest issue is if you are involved in a road accident they could be thrown forward and hit the front seat or worse still ejected from the car seat altogether.  

Here are 7 Smart ways to learn how to stop toddler escaping from a car seat.

1. Check the harness height around the shoulders.

The car seat manual will show what to do and how to adjust each harness around your child based on their height. It is advised to check your car seat manual frequently, to ensure that the correct length is being used as your child grows bigger

2. Tighten the harness when you put your child in (every time)

When you put your child into the car seat the harness can get lose or become slack. You should check the harness length every time you put your child into the car seat and pull the slack out from around the hip area before you pull the long tail part to tighten it.

If you allow for too much slack around the hips your child can very easily get their arms out. The general rule is to have the harness fitted firmly but still allowing you to fit two fingers between your child and the straps.

3. Don’t over pad your child with clothes.

This often happens in winter or in colder evenings when parents wrap their children up to fight against the cold. However, this also has the undesirable effect of very difficult to correctly tighten the straps around your child.

It is always the perfect setup for your child to wiggle out of them as their shoulders are not secured correctly. Try to avoid baggy clothes whilst in the car and if in doubt leave thick blankest or jackets off.

3. Prevention is better than cure.

Some experts believe that it is smarter and more robust to educate children, especially older ones, abut road safety and why escaping out of car seats is always unsafe. Here you should remind your child that escaping from a car seat is very unsafe and that the seat belt is on to keep you safe.

Remind them about your seat belt and make it a routine to show them that you are putting yours on as well. Show them that you cannot drive until your car seat is on and if it comes off you have to pull over to sort it out.

4. It’s illegal!

In most states, it’s illegal to drive with a child that is not correctly harnessed and strapped in for their age. IF your child is escaping frequently from a car seat remind them that it is not only unsafe but also against the law.

You can show them examples of law enforcement officers and demonstrate the role of a police officer.

5. Reward system

Most toddlers and older children react well to reward systems so if you should try to arrange a small treat or reward if they manage to keep their seat belt on correctly the entire journey.

Make it a meaningful reward so that they feel justified in keeping safe

Chest clips and enhanced car seat harnesses

A chest clip is a mechanism that you can buy separately from the car seat itself. It attaches directly to the straps and makes it very hard for a child to escape from the seat around the shoulder level.  

However, after some crash testing, it is inconclusive whether in a front or side-impact crash these seat harnesses does more damage than good.

Learning how to keep toddler from unbuckling car seat is important for child safety and peace of mind. Understand the above recommendations and put them in action to keep your child safe while driving at all times

Ava Miller

Mom of 2 who enjoys blogging, travelling, cooking and spending time with Taylor & Olivia

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