You will spend the majority of your time as a first time parent researching. You’ll look up what do for your child’s first fever, how to start solids, how much your child should eat, and more. However, the most important topic you will research is car seat safety. The topic of car seats can often be overwhelming for new parents. After all, there is a lot to learn. However, it’s important to not stress yourself out. Instead, jump into your research and educate yourself as best as you can. Utilize all of your resources to make sure your child is safe in the car.
Car seat safety quickly became a passion of mine after I started researching car seats. It’s an important topic for parents to understand. However, it is frequently overlooked or misunderstood by many parents. In fact, I all too often see a child in the incorrect type of seat or improperly using a seat. This breaks my heart because properly using a car seat can be the difference between life and death for a child. That’s why I want to share with you some of the most important safety rules I have found during my research.
The longer you can keep your child rear facing the safer they are.
One of my favorite car seat safety tips is about the importance of extended rear facing. Many states now require children to remain rear facing until their second birthday. After 2 it becomes legal to turn your child forward facing. However, if your child still remains in the rear facing limits of their seat it is best to keep them rear facing. Many seats have high enough weight/hight limits that you can rear face your child until close to their fourth birthday.
A big reason that parents choose to turn their children early is that they look uncomfortable. They worry because their legs are bent or being scrunched up. However, it’s important to remember that rear facing protects a child’s still maturing spine. In the event of an accident a broken leg is much less severe than a spinal injury. Plus, it’s important to remember that what looks uncomfortable to an adult might be quite comfortable for a child. In fact, many parents who turn their children forward face complaints of sore legs because they just dangle.
Bulky coats or clothing shouldn’t be worn in a car seat.
My next car seat safety tip is all about the proper clothing to wear in a carseat. It can be difficult to figure out how to dress your child in the winter. Many parents face the difficult decision of how to get a child from the house, to the car, to the destination warmly. This is especially difficult for parents who no longer use an infant car seat. A common solution that parents choose is to dress their child in a warm coat. This may be a convenient choice, but it’s not always the safest.
The issue with bulky winter coats is the space they put between your child and their seatbelt. For a seat belt to offer maximum protection it should be placed as closely to your child’s body as possible. The thick layer a coat adds prevents it from doing that. A child restraint can look properly tightened against a coat. However, in the event of a crash the coat would compress leaving a gap between your child and their seat belt. This could result in an ejaculation from the seat. This car seat safety tip is also one that applies to adults.
Here is a simple test to help you decide whether or not your child’s coat is too bulky to be worn in the car. First, place your child in their car seat with their coat on and secure their restraints. Then, remove them from the seat without loosening the straps. Finally, place them pack in their seat and buckle them in without tightening their restraints. If their seat belt still passes the pinch test then they are fine. However, if it fails the pinch test than the coat cannot be worn.
Aftermarket products shouldn’t be added to a car seat.
Many new parents choose to add aftermarket products to their child’s car seat. These products include infant support inserts, harness covers, head support pillows, seat protectors, waterproof pads, custom covers, and more. However, these items generally are not safe to use with your child’s seat. Your seat did not have these items on it when it went through the rigorous safety testing. Therefor, you can’t truly know how they would affect your seat in the event of an accident. Event the smallest change can have a large impact and it just isn’t worth the risk.
This can be very confusing for many parents out there. Products like these fill the aisles of baby stores across the nation. Marketers often put the words “safe” or “crash tested” on the packaging. However, there aren’t any crash test standards these products are being tested against. There isn’t a way to know which seats the product was tested on, how it was tested, and what the result was. That’s why it is best to save your money and leave these products on the shelf. Stick to the products that came with your seat as they are always a safe option.
Always double check your child is strapped in properly before leaving.
This is one of my simplest car seat safety tips. However, it is the one that is most often overlooked. Trust me, I understand. Life with kids is hectic. Leaving the house with just one child can seem like an overwhelming task. It only gets harder the more that you have. So, after wrestling everyone into your car seat it can be easy to just hop in the drivers seat and go. However, it’s important to take the time to double check everyone is properly strapped in.
This is a step that takes as little as 10 seconds per child. It seems so simple, but it could be the difference between life and death for your child in an accident. That’s why it’s important to do this every time you place your child in a car seat. Yes, even if you just are going down the street. After all, the majority of all car accidents happen within a 10 mile radius from home.
Before you leave be sure to double check these important safety aspects. First, make sure the straps fall at an appropriate place. For a rear facing child the straps should be at or below the should and for forward facing they should fall above. Then, double check that the straps pass the pinch test. Finally, insure that the chest clip is properly placed. The chest clip should fall at armpit level in order to function properly in the event of an accident.
Avoid using a used car seat if possible.
A used car seat can seem like a great bargain. They typically sell for less than half the price of seats you find in store. Sometimes you can even get them for free. Plus, they are easy to find. You can locate them at your local Facebook buy/sell/trade groups, garage sales, Craigslist, Goodwill, or even family and friends. Used car seats seem like a steal! However, they aren’t always the safest option for your child.
It can be difficult to judge a car seat by it’s looks. The seat may look perfect! It may be free of any stains, smells, scuffs, dents, or wear and tear. It will probably still be unexpired. However, that seat may have been in accident. It could have been cleaned with harsh chemicals. It could have been stored improperly. The seat could have even been recalled. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to look at a seat and know these details. That’s why unless you know the seller personally and trust them completely a used car seat just isn’t a good option. A great rule of thumb that was shared by Car Seats For the Littles is to only buy a used carseat from someone whom you would trust with your child’s life.