Congratulations – you have a baby on the way! You made lists, researched brands, weight limits and gear, and swore to yourself that you’d still wander the globe with Junior in tow. If you plan to travel with a baby, be sure to buy a travel-friendly car seat. The right car seat makes it so much easier, but begs the question: how do I safely install a car seat without a base?
Travel with baby requires buying a travel friendly rear-facing car seat.
City dweller? Frequent traveler? If you frequently use taxis or ride share services like Uber and Lyft, you’ll want to buy a car seat you can install without a base. Convertible car seats are great, but can require tethers and latch systems that aren’t speedy for installation. We personally own a Britax Clicktight, but we also owned a Britax B-Safe for travel when my son was a baby.
Don’t get tripped up on the rules of baseless car seat installation. These tips will turn you into a pro.
How to Choose a Travel-Friendly Car Seat for Easy Baseless Installation
When it comes to infant bucket style seats, there are two major types: standard and European belt path. Most infant carriers come with bases for convenience. This means that parents can just plop them onto the already installed bases, listen for the click and go. The majority of these car seats can also be installed without the snap-in base, following some simple steps.
Most parents examine safety ratings and ease of install before they buy a car seat. But if you will be using ride shares and taxis regularly, consider buying one with a feature called “European belt path.” A European belt path allows you to stretch the shoulder part of the seat belt behind the infant car seat and secure it through a special “belt path” on the back. That gives the car seat two spots where the seat belt holds it in rather than just one.
A baseless car seat installation is possible even without a European belt path. But the second anchor will give you peace of mind if you regularly travel with a baby.
Don’t let the first time you install a car seat with no base be when you need to. Practice makes perfect. Try installing the seat — both with and without the baby in it — before you travel. Practice before you go, more than once.
Practice installing the seat on both the center of the back seat and the sides. Studies have shown that the center position in the back seat can be up to 43 percent safer for baby. But some center seats bump out a bit, which can make installation tricky.
What is the right installation? One that you feel confident is secure. Go with what you feel most comfortable with.
TravelingMom Tip: Check your area for car seat fittings or workshops with a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. You can call your local hospital, first responders and retails stores to locate one.
How to Install a Car Seat in Uber Without the Base
Let’s walk step by step through a baseless car seat installation.
- Place your car seat, rear-facing, on the rear vehicle seat- never the front seat near an airbag.
- Pull out the seat belt; thread the lap section through the lap belt guides on the car seat.
- Put the shoulder belt portion through making sure it lies flat. (If your car seat has a European belt path you will pull the shoulder belt behind the car seat and secure it in that belt path.)
- Check the level indicator if your car seat has one.
- Buckle the safety belt.
- Pull down on the shoulder belt to activate the locking mechanism.
- Push on the car seat and pull on the safety belt to make sure your installation is tight. The seat should not move more than one inch if you try to wiggle it.
- Double check that the seat is level.
Checklist for a Baseless Car Seat Installation
You’ve practiced installation and you’re ready for your first road trip with a baby. Here are a few last minute hints to be sure the baseless car seat installation goes smoothly.
- Have your infant buckled into the car seat and ready to go. Remember that the same rules apply as in your own car, so be sure the child is securely strapped in without any poofy coats or unsafe car seat add-ons. Their chest clip should be fastened at armpit level.
- Going in a taxi? Tell the driver to start the meter while you install. This will relieve some of the “rushed” feeling and allow you to put your full attention on the install without the driver getting frustrated.
- Perform the above-mentioned installation instructions.
- Before you shut the door to the car make sure the seat is tight (no more than one inch of wiggle in any direction), level (check your car seat manual to see what the visual on the car seat should look like), and that the seat belt is locked.
- Never shut the door until the car seat is fully installed. This signals to the driver that you are ready to go!
Good luck! To learn more about traveling with babies and toddlers check out our complete guide!