Car Seat Yoga

“A child seat with rigid LATCH attachments cannot be installed at the center rear seat. A child seat with LATCH attachments on belt webbing can be used at the child seat unless a child seat at an outboard rear seat is attached to one of these lower anchors.”

Yeah… wait, what?

Ok, so maybe my car owner’s guide is a bit too technical of a resource. Let’s see what the car seat manual has for me.

“If the infant restraint is too upright, a child’s head may drop forward and cause breathing problems. If the infant restraint is too reclined, a crash could put too much force on a child’s neck and shoulders. Failure to property recline the infant restraint on the vehicle seat increases the risk of serious injury or death.”

Great, no pressure there. No help there either.

Installing the car seat is the latest target of Meg’s recent panic shitstorms that I’ve had to endure. She’s normally a very multitasking-oriented woman, but something about pregnancy has caused her to focus in on one particular issue at a time. And something else about pregnancy has caused that issue to be immediately paramount.

Months ago, it was the baby’s room. And by months, I mean back in February. When we finally got that painted and the crib installed, she started to freak out because the glider and dresser had not come in yet. I tried to point out that the crib was the most important part so the baby can sleep, but I doubt anyone reading this thinks my futile attempts at logic saw any success whatsoever.

The stroller was another production. Apparently, Meg has plans to take the child directly from the womb out for a walk. After that was finished, the skeleton stroller that the car seat sits in to make it act like a stroller had to be put together. When trying to figure out why both absolutely needed to be assembled prior to the kid’s birth, the best I could come up with is that I would run next to her with the car seat stroller and we’d pass the baby off baton-style in case one of the wheels on the stroller, I dunno, went flat or something.

There were still others over the last month. Panic about not having a super most specialist in the whole wide world outfit to bring the baby home in (again, logic dictates that the kid will simply spit up on it within minutes and again, logic has no place in pregnancy). Panic that the baby’s clothes were not washed. Panic that I didn’t buy a digital camera. Panic that I didn’t buy a camcorder. Panic that I didn’t prove to her that I knew how to use the camcorder (let’s just say that I won’t be releasing that video on the site). And so on.

After a few days of nagging about the car seat, I decided it was time for a change of scenery (i.e. give Meg something new to nag about), so I figured it was about time to install the car seats.

The instructions were useless, but car seat installation was covered in one of our baby classes. I remembered the premise: jam the seat base into my car seat as hard as inhumanly possible and strap in. The instructor of the class even wheeled in a real car seat and demonstrated kneeling on the base to get the proper depth.

What the instructor didn’t mention is that her ease in doing that was directly related to the fact that she wasn’t actually in a car. That is, she didn’t have the back of the front seat to wedge herself between and, perhaps more importantly, there was no car roof to speak of.

During a jiu-jitsu fight, I’m capable of kneeling on my opponent’s stomach while using both hands (and sometimes my head) to work for some form of choke hold or arm bar, while the entire time my victim is struggling to throw me off. As Mike can attest to, I’m pretty proficient at the position.

Yet for some reason, the stationary car seat base put up more of a fight than the 230 pound wrestler I’m kneeling on in class. Upon pulling up on the strap to secure the seat, I hit my head on the roof. The bump was enough to slide my knee off center of the base. That caused my entire weight balance to shift, propelling me out the car door. At least I landed on my feet, but upon seeing the open wound on my knee, I let out a stream of obscenities that drew dirty looks from my neighbor and confused looks from his 4 year old who was playing outside.

After tending to my knee, I climbed back in the car for round 2. I drew upon my vast yoga abilities and this time, managed to get my entire foot on top of the base, my knee pressed squarely against my own ear. I pulled and I pushed and I grunted and I dug the base deep into my car seat. I then spent a few minutes admiring the fact that as hard as I tried, I couldn’t make the base budge.

Only to actually place the car seat in the base to find the level indicator on the seat showed that I needed to prop up the back of the base some more (the instructor in the class mentioned using a rolled up towel). Son of a bitch, I need to do it all again. My neighbor had brought his daughter inside by this point, so I had no problem cursing loudly at that realization.

But at least the car seat bases are installed, the seat itself still in my car. It’s going to take some getting used to, since every time I turn around to back out of the drive way, where my hand used to find the back of the passenger seat for leverage now punches squarely where the baby’s head is going to be. At least it’s installed early, and I have a few days to train myself out of that habit.


  1. I am that 230 lb wrestler and I resemble that comment. Also, after 10 months of jiu-jitsu I would like to think I have evolved past being just a wrestler. Apparently not!


  2. Jay – You know that you can go to your local fire house and get it installed correctly, right?

    Sounds like it was an adventure, glad you got it done for Baby D :)

  3. Ours will check to make sure it’s installed correctly, but I’d still have to do it. That was an adventure in its own right, since we spent a solid 30 minutes driving around trying to find the damn firehouse.

  4. LOL just as I was about halfway through reading the blog, I’m saying to myself..geez, there’s a gauge right on the side that tells you if it’s at the correct angle or not :) Since you’re getting everything ready anyway, you might want to practice taking the bucket out of the base and seeing how it snaps into the stroller before the baby arrives. They don’t like to be jiggled around ya know! 😉

  5. The bitch of it is that the gauge is on the seat itself, but you can’t install the base while the seat’s in it. So you’re pretty much screwed and won’t know until it’s too damn late.

  6. Basically, you’ll want to roll up a towel and put it under the base on the side facing the rear of the car. Typically, in the backseat it dips back where yer butt goes, that ought to even it out nicely. Back up a sec, you may not want to take a full size bath towel and roll it up either, that’d be too big but you could fold a smaller towel into a nice rectangle and you should be good to go 😉 We found it was just easier for either jeff or I to take turns sitting in the back with the baby to make sure the kids heads were in the upright position. Sometimes even with all those cushions they have to snuggle the kid’s heads into, they’re so tiny when you first bring ’em home that they just dont cradle them the way you’d want. Just like those perfect taking home outfits that you put on the baby that morning, and they look like they’re swimming in a sea of clothes!! Everything will be fine, the baby will be fine but that first drive home is gonna be the longest trip of your life! :)

  7. “… but that first drive home is gonna be the longest trip of your life! ”

    You’re right about that, I’ll be driving 10 mph. I’m still looking for volunteers to form a caravan around the car like a damn police escort.

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