Welcome to your full guide on how to keep toddler from unbuckling car seat!

Are you having trouble keeping your toddler in their car seat during the ride? We understand it can be a problem and are here to help!


Keeping your toddler in their seat is essential for their safety. However, children can learn how to unbuckle the car seat at a certain age.

While some people can find this adorable, it’s a dangerous behavior that you need to stop.

Don’t fret! Luckily, there are some precautions you can take to ensure that your little ones remain safely seated during any trip.

In today’s article, we have a full guide on how to keep a toddler from unbuckling the car seat.

Show it to me already!

How to Keep Your Toddler from Unbuckling the Car Seat

There are many ways you can ensure that your little ones are safe and secure in their car seats. Let’s check out some of these methods.

1.   Check the Harness Fit

You can’t leave your children in a loose harness and expect them to stay still, especially if they’re physically active or playful. So, you should always ensure that the harness is fastened properly before driving.

Using your thumb and forefinger to pinch the straps is a good way to check if the harness is tight enough. If you can squeeze the straps, they need to be tighter. When the harness is tightened properly, your fingers will slip off, and you won’t be able to pinch the harness webbing.

However, don’t tighten the straps too much, as they can be uncomfortable for your children or harm them.

Further, it would help if you ensured the harness straps were in the right position. Generally, the harness straps should be at or below the shoulders in a rear-facing car seat. On the other hand, in car seats that are facing forward, the harness straps should be at or above the shoulders.

2.   Use a Harness Clip or a Kids’ Harness Lock

Some cars come with a harness clip that attaches the straps of the car seats together. The harness clip can prevent your little one from reaching down and unbuckling the car seat.

In addition, some cars have a lock-off feature, which allows you to lock the seat belt on your toddler. Typically, the lock button is found on the side of the car seat. You can always check the instructions manual of your car to check if it has this feature.

3.   Get a Seat Buckle Guard

A seat buckle guard, also known as a buckle shield, is a small piece that covers the buckle so that your toddler can’t easily unlock it. Some buckle guards come with a lock system, which can be even harder to unlock.

In other words, it’s like child-proofing the buckles!

However, remember that it can be a bit of a hassle for you to unlock the guard too! A few guards come with keys, and in case of an emergency, finding the key and opening the guard can take some time.

4.   Distract and Entertain Your Toddlers

As a parent, you probably know that distractions can be a magical solution in any tough situation with your little ones.

The solution to this problem can be as simple as giving your kid a toy or a snack. You can also play a song or a movie that grabs their attention.

Additionally, your kid might be unbuckling the car seat out of boredom. Therefore, providing them with something interesting or entertaining can be the ultimate solution.

Further, you can distract your kid by talking to them!

I’ve found that assigning some simple challenges to your kid can work wonders. For example, you can ask your child to count the number of houses you pass or to look for a certain store while you’re driving.

Essential Tips to Keep Your Toddler from Unbuckling the Car Seat

Here are some essential tips that can help you keep your child safely buckled during your car ride:

1.   Let Your Child Know about the Consequences

You can talk to your child about how dangerous it is to unbuckle the seat belt, but it mainly depends on their age. Generally, you need to be calm and use a gentle tone.

It can be hard for children to understand the risks of the situation, so try breaking it down into something they can understand.

Additionally, you can ask a police officer or a certified child passenger safety technician (CPST) to tell your little ones about the importance of leaving the car seat buckled. That’s because, in some cases, seeing an authoritative role model explain the situation can greatly influence them.

2.   Be Creative and Playful

You can make a game out of this tough situation! For example, you can tell your children that you’re on a spaceship and you can’t fly unless they’re buckled. Dealing with bad behaviors like that requires creative solutions!

3.   Rewards

Rewards are one of the best ways you can encourage your toddler’s good behavior, like staying buckled all the way until you reach your destination. Not to mention how rewards can increase self-esteem and build a better relationship between you and your little one.

Generally, there are many types of rewards you can go for, from a small kiss or a high five to a candy they love.

What Are the Dangers of Letting Your Toddler Get Out of Their Car Seat?

Toddler car seats are designed to keep your little ones safe in dangerous situations. When a crash occurs, occupants without seat belts will continue moving at the same speed as the car before the collision happens.

So, they’ll end up crashing hard into the front dashboard or the back of a seat, which can cause serious injuries.

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that car seats can reduce the risk of injury in car accidents by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and when it comes to the safety of our little ones, you can’t risk them getting injured.

Therefore, keeping your toddlers buckled in the car seat is crucial to their safety, no matter how short the distance you’ll drive is.

What to Do When Your Toddler Unbuckles the Car Seat?

When your toddler unbuckles the car seat, the first thing you should do is stop driving. Then, it would help if you let the child know that this is unacceptable. After that, you must buckle the car seat and tighten it properly.

It’d help if you set a rule that unless they’re buckled in, the car doesn’t move. Next, you can start implementing other methods, like distraction and entertainment. You might consider a seat buckle guard or a harness clip when this doesn’t work with your children.

In any case, never be driving while your kid’s car seat isn’t buckled and tightened.

Wrapping Up

There are many ways you can keep your child safe while you’re driving. For starters, you should check the harness fit and tighten it properly. Additionally, you can use a harness clip or lock.

If that doesn’t work, you can get a seat buckle guard. More importantly, you should always distract and entertain your child during the ride to stop them from unbuckling the car seat.

Remember to let your child know about the consequences of their actions. You also should reward good behavior, like staying in the car seat for a long trip!

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Roger and Out.


How do I stop my 2-year-old from climbing out of his car seat?

If your child can climb out of the car seat, it means that it wasn’t fastened properly. So, make sure that the harness is tight enough before you drive.

Additionally, you need to check the harness height at the shoulders. For rear-facing car seats, it should be at or below shoulder level, while in forward-facing seats, the straps should be at or above shoulder level.

When this isn’t enough to keep your child in the car seat, you can use an anti-escape car seat clip.

At what age do toddlers stop sitting in a car seat?

California’s law states that any child younger than six years old or weighing less than 60 pounds must use a booster seat.

On the other hand, NHTSA recommends  keeping any child in a booster seat until they’re big enough to fit properly in a normal seat with a belt.

What to do when my kid doesn’t stay in his car seat?

First, you need to check if there’s something causing your kid to feel uncomfortable. You might want to try communicating with your little one to understand the cause of this behavior.

If the previous methods don’t work, you can have someone ride alongside them.

Further, you can try using a bigger distraction to stop them from unbuckling the car seat. Keep in mind that leaving your little one without a seat belt is never an option.


this came up repeated in many articles – pls rephrase

Last Updated on April 26, 2023 by Danny Reid

Written by Linda Reid

Hey there, I'm Linda, a mom of three cool kids. I've tried so many car seats, you could call me a "Car Seat Detective." Searching for the perfect car seat can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, but don't worry! I've committed to researching and reviewing car seats that are super safe, cozy, and great for growing kids. Together, we'll find the perfect car seat that keeps your child safe and cozy, and makes you feel like a super-parent!