Chest clips are one of the least understood and most misused features on a carseat. I’m going to attempt to set the record straight on how they function, what purpose they serve and how they’re meant to be positioned.

 

Proper Positioning:

Chest clips should be positioned anywhere in the mid to upper chest area. Aim for armpit level which is where most carseat instruction manuals tell you to place the chest clip. The truth is that even if it’s a little lower than armpit level – it will still do its job as a pre-crash positioner of the harness straps, as long as the harness straps are snug and routed correctly over the child’s shoulders. A snug and properly routed harness is essential!

 Chest Clip - too low Chest Clip - just right

 

Comparison of Current Infant Seat Chest Clip Designs:

Top to Bottom: Evenflo, Graco, Chicco, Safety 1st, Cybex

Comparison of chest clip designs

 

Federal Safety Standards and Chest Clips:

Believe it or not, chest clips are not required on U.S. carseats by FMVSS 213. That’s because they’re really not necessary for crash protection as long as the harness is snug and positioned over the child’s shoulders. Regardless, chest clips are included on all current harnessed seats sold in this country so it’s a component we’ve come to expect. Just keep in mind that it’s possible for a new seat to debut next week or next year that doesn’t come with a chest clip. I actually owned, used and loved an infant seat that didn’t have a chest clip back in 2004.

SIV closeup

My Beloved
Fisher-Price Stay-In-View
Infant Carseat
Oct 2004