GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There are so many things for brand new parents to learn. One of them is properly installing a car seat.

Safe Kids of Greater Grand Rapids helps parents make sure they’re keeping their little ones as safe as they can be on the roads.

“We know that nine out of 10 car seats are either installed or used incorrectly,” said Kelley Miller, the injury prevention coordinator for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids of Greater Grand Rapids.

Miller said the most common problems they see include seats not being installed snuggly and securely. She said a car seat should move less than an inch if you wiggle or shake it.

Another mistake parents make is locking down the seat belt while also using the lower anchor system. She said those two are not to be used at the same time.

For forward facing car seats, Miller said it’s important to add the top tether, also known as the upper anchor or upper strap, which protects the child’s head, neck and spine.

Miller said most states recommend rear-facing car seats for children until they’re at least 2 years old because they protect the head, neck and spine in a collision. She recommended keeping children in rear-facing car seats as long as possible.

“Once we turn them forward facing, their bodies are restrained by the car seat harness but nothing’s holding back that head. It puts all of the trauma or force of the impact right on the child’s head, neck and spine,” said Miller.

When installing a car seat, lock the seatbelt by pulling it all the way out and then slowly let it feed back in. During this process you should hear a clicking sound, which indicates the locking mechanism has been activated. The next step is putting weight into the car seat by leaning on it and checking how snug it is to the seat of the car.

Miller urged parents not to forget the anchor that goes between the seat of the car and the headrest in front facing car seats. You can find the anchor point it attaches to in your owner’s manual.

The staff at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Program offer free car seat inspections. Check their website for times and locations or give them a call at 616.391.7233 for Grand Rapids-area residents or 616.748.2285 for Lakeshore-area residents.