How to Install a Rear Facing Car Seat

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat, Pierce
Graco SnugRide Click Connect Rear Facing Car Seat

Rear facing car seats like this one are the safest way for infants to travel. Some states require babies to ride rear facing from newborn to 2 years old.  But how is a rear facing car seat installed? Rear facing car seats have two parts – a car seat base and a carrier.  The base is securely strapped into the vehicle, and the carrier can be clicked in or out as needed. This type of car seat is meant only to be used rear facing.

A convertible car seat is designed to be used rear facing at first, and then transition to a forward facing use as a child grows. An All-In-One style car seat is intended to be used as rear facing, then forward facing, and finally as a booster seat. These two styles may not come with a separate base component.

SAFETY NOTERear facing car seats must NOT be used in the front seat of a vehicle, or in front of an active air bag. If there is no back seat, make sure the front passenger side air bag is off or deactivated.

There are two ways to secure a car seat base into a vehicle. Car seats can be installed in older vehicles by pulling a seat belt tightly through. It’s safer, though, to use your vehicle’s LATCH system, if it has one. Most vehicles made in 2002 or later do. LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren. This system provides metal loop anchors below the back cushion and upper strap tethers for securing a car seat.

The details on how to install your specific car seat will be in the manufacturer’s instructions that came in the box. It’s important to follow these recommendations – most state laws require it.  If the instructions have been tossed out, lost, or used for drawing by the kids, don’t worry. They are available for download from most manufacturer websites.

Here are some great resources on rear facing car seat installation:

Videos for using anchors or a seatbelt at

Video of a checkpoint inspection (with instructions) at

Slideshow and video instructions at

Want to have your car seat installation checked? Check out your state’s page for car seat inspection dates and locations in your area. Or you can visit the national sites listed below. Another option is to contact your local hospital or children’s hospital.

NHTSA Child Care Seat Inspection Station Locator (by state or zip code) or call 1-866-SEAT-CHECK Three ways to find a certified child passenger safety technician near you


How to Install A Rear Facing Car Seat