As millions of Americans prepare to hit the road to visit friends and family, Buckle Up for Life, the national car seat education program from Cincinnati Children’s and Toyota, has released its top tips for the Thanksgiving travel season.

“The holidays are a reminder to be thankful for all that we have – and for so many of us this includes the children in our lives,” said Gloria Del Castillo, child passenger safety expert at Cincinnati Children’s and senior outreach specialist for Buckle Up for Life. “We want every parent and caregiver to have the knowledge and resources they need to help keep child passengers safe during this special time of year and beyond. These tips from Buckle Up for Life may seem simple, but they could save a child’s life in the event of a crash.”

Buckle Up for Life’s Thanksgiving Travel Tips

The following tips, as well as additional advice and guidance, including animated car seat installation videos, can also be found on

  • Use the “Inch and Pinch” Test. After you’ve buckled your child in, pinch the car seat strap near their shoulders. If you can pinch a wrinkle in the fabric, tighten the strap until it is snug. Then grab the car seat at the bottom where it is attached to the car and tug from side to side and front to back. If the seat moves more than an inch in either direction, tighten it.
  • Secure Holiday “Extras” in the Car. Make sure that all gifts, luggage and other holiday “extras” are tightly secured in your vehicle. These objects could become projectiles in the event of a crash.
  • Ensure Your Child’s Seat Faces the Correct Way. Some parents and caregivers may wonder when it’s safe to turn the car seat around to face forward. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain in rear-facing car seats until age two, or until they exceed the height or weight limit for the seat.
  • Remove Your Child’s Winter Coat. Before securing your child in their seat, remove their winter coat. A coat can prevent the harness from fitting correctly. It also could compress in a crash, compromising the seat’s ability to protect your child.
  • Don’t Rent a Car Seat. Traveling by plane? If you are renting a car, use your own car seat. When you rent a seat you don’t know important facts about its history that could affect its ability to protect your child (e.g., expiration date, crash history, etc.) The good news is that many airlines allow you to check your car seat for free.