A 7-month-old baby was a "missile waiting to happen" due to being placed in a car seat that had been wrongly installed.

The child was just one of a number of babies and toddlers found to be sitting in incorrectly installed car seats, at a series of checkpoints held on Wednesday.

The checkpoints are a joint venture between Whanganui Police, Plunket and Horizons Regional Council, and happen around four times a year.

Helen Luke from Plunket said the baby had been placed in the car seat, but was not strapped in, and the car seat was not bolted in.

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"The child may have as well have not been in the car seat for all the good it did," Ms Luke said.

The checkponts were held near the Aramoho shops in the morning, and the former BP site in Fitzherbert Ave and Harriet Vine Kindergarten in the afternoon.

Ms Luke said part way through the morning session, 38 car seats had been checked and 15 were found to be wrongly installed.

"We're finding that if they're required to be bolted in, they're often not, or the seat belts aren't being used correctly," she said.

"It's important that people read the instructions for the car seats - otherwise they just aren't safe."