How To Do The Car Seat Pinch Test?

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Written by: Fatima O. Millers, CPST

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A car seat pinch test is a simple but important way to check if you have installed your child’s car seat correctly.

Car seat harness straps should lie flat and snug on your child’s shoulders but not so tight to cause the child any discomfort.

That’s why conducting a car seat pinch test is the best way to insure that the car seat harness straps fit your child properly and that the car seat is also installed correctly.

How to Do the car seat pinch test Step by Step

To make sure your child is safe in the car seat, conduct a pinch test following these easy steps:

Install the car seat properly using the both car seat and the car’s manuals.

Buckle your child into the seat and tighten the harness by pulling the front adjustment strap.

car seat pinch test tighten adjustment strap

You position the chest clip at your child’s armpit level


Pinch the webbing on the belt strap located on the child’s shoulder. If you are able to gather any fabric between your fingers, the straps are still loose and need more tightening.

Are the straps still loose? Slightly pull the front adjustment strap and re-do the pinch test.

Tip: When tightening the straps, make sure you remove any slack on the hips and torso, not just the shoulders.

Here is a detailed video on how to perform the car seat pinch test

How to Do the car seat Reverse pinch test Step by Step

The. pinch test is a great way to make sure that the seat straps are tight, but sometimes you can overtighten them.

That’s where the reverse pinch test comes in. Whether you use the pinch test or the reverse pinch test, the result would be the same.

Just choose the method you are more comfortable with.

To do the reverse pinch test:

Puckle your baby in her car seat

Slide the chest clip down and pull the webbing near the hips to remove the slack.

Pinch the webbing at the shoulder

Slowly pull the straps adjuster in the front seat until the webbing slides off your fingers.

Pinch the webbing at the shoulder on both sides to double-check. If you can’t pinch the straps, congratulations, you just passed the reverse pinch test.

Now slide the chest clip to the armpit level. That’s it well done!

Here is a video on how to do the reverse pinch test for your baby’s car seat

What’s next?

Now that you know how to do a car seat pinch test properly, put it to good use! Check the car seat straps every time you get your child into the car seat.

Car seat safety is so important, and this is a simple but effective way to help keep your little one safe.

Please note: The content provided on Car Seat Parent, including all materials and information, is not intended to serve as medical or health advice. Always consult with ahealthcare professional regarding your specific circumstances, especially when it concerns the safety and well-being of your child in relation to car seat use.

About Fatima O. Millers, CPST

Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Fatima delivers insightful car seat reviews and recommendations. Combining her CPST expertise with an engineering background, her advice is both safe and practical.

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