While most car seats have the same type of harness set up, it doesn’t hurt to have some information on how to properly buckle your child in. Car seat safety is important, you want to keep your bundle of joy tucked in correctly!
Infant Carrier Safety
Here are some tips for your babies very first car seat.
- Don’t use your infant carrier as a replacement for a crib. Once you are home, remove your baby from the car seat and place them in their crib or bassinet. This will reduce the chances of SIDS occurring.
- Don’t place your carrier on the top of a shopping cart, where a toddler would sit. Place the carrier in the big part of the cart. You could easily hit a bump or swerve and cause the carrier and you baby to fall.
- Don’t place hanging toys from the carrier handle in the car. The toys could become flying objects in an accident and cause injuries.
- Keep your baby fully buckled in, even when outside of the vehicle. Babies can wiggle and squirm enough that they could cause the carrier to rock and then roll them out of it.
Rear Facing Seating
Babies are required to sit in a rear facing car seat until the age of 2. Some states say the age of 2, or 30 pounds. State law varies. Manufacturers should also have in their instruction book their own recommendation on what height and weight their seat can accommodate to. There is no negative effect to keeping them in a rear facing seat as long as possible. Babies spines are still developing, and they could not sustain an accident in a front facing position, it could be fatal. The seat in a rear facing position, cradles their backs and protects them from harm, and keeps them safer.
Always put your rear facing seat in the back seat of your vehicle. Any seats in the front can cause serious damage to your growing baby if hit with an air bag.
Car seats come with harnesses, that can be re positioned as your child grows. There should be a variety of slots to remove the straps and move them up as they get taller. Some tips for using the harness on your child are as follows:
- The shoulder straps must be at or below your child’s shoulders.
- The straps should always lay flat without any twists in them.
- The harness must be snug. You should only be able to place one finger under the straps between them and your child. You should not be able to pinch the straps into a fold once snug.
- The top of the chest clip should be parallel with their armpits.
Some common mistakes with car seats are:
- Placing your car seat in the wrong spot. Again, car seats must always be placed in the rear of the vehicle. If it is in the front, the air bag could deploy and hit the back of the seat, causing your babies head and spine to be injured. The best place is the center of the back seat, but on the sides is fine.
- Having your child relined at the incorrect angle. The car seats will come with a “bubble” indicating the safest recline for your child. Babies need to be semi reclined to help keep their airways opened. As your child grows, the recline angle will also change. Be sure to read the manufacturers instructions on where the indicator is located.
- Placing a heavy coat or blanket on your child. The fewer layers between your child and the car seat, the safer they will be. You can place a blanket over them once they are securely fastened in the seat.
- Moving to a forward facing seat too soon. I know you want to be able to see and interact with you baby, but you want to keep them rear facing as long as possible.
Front Facing Seats
Once your child is big enough for the front facing seat, be sure to use the harness, and also the tether strap. This strap should hook over the back seat of your vehicle. Refer to your owner’s manual if you don’t see this latch in your car.
As your child grows, you will eventually be able to remove the harness, and use the seat belt with the seat to properly latch them in.
Car Seat Safety – There is always help!
It is super important to properly install and use your car seats. After all, your babies life depends on it. Most hospitals or clinics will offer a car seat check up. Here, someone can help you check that you have installed the seat correctly, as well as teach you how to harness your baby in. These clinics will occasionally also offer a trade in on your seat when it’s time, and give you a discount on your next seat. They do this to ensure proper recycling of car seats, and to be sure no expired ones are being used unsafely. Be sure to ask your nurse if you have any questions, or would like some extra help.