Okay, it’s not necessarily a debacle per se, but it is a concern that many parents should be informed of. With a lot of information out there regarding the thousands of car seats and the dos-and-don’ts, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the options. However, there is a logical reason why parents continually torture themselves with their research endeavors; obviously. They want to protect their little ones! When the first car seat was invented in the 40’s, there wasn’t much concern as to the safety of the child, but now, there are different precautions regarding car seat safety which need to be followed.
For example, did you know that you are not supposed to buckle up your child with a heavy jacket on? Did you know that when selecting a car seat, it needs to have a tag on it that says it has been accepted by the Federal Vehicle Motor Safety Standard 213? This isn’t even a fraction of the information you should know, so here’s your one stop read of the Most Critical Car Seat Safety Guidelines You Should Know.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT CAR SEAT
Choosing the right car seat and knowing how to install it property is step number one. From the time of birth until age two (or when the child exceed the height and weight limit of the car seat) the American Academy of Pediatrics AAP recommends children remain facing the rear of the vehicle. This can be achieved by using and infant-only rear facing car seat or a conversion car seat. Follow the manufacturers guidelines regarding the minimum and maximum weight and height limits for the seat to determine which is right for your child. A conversion car seat is a decent economical choice since it can later be turned into a forward facing seat and accommodates a larger weight range but these seats might not be best for newborn infants. After your child outgrows the weight limit of your forward facing car seat, the next step is a booster seat. The child should remain in the booster seat until the seat belt property fits them which is usually between the ages of 8-12. At every stage of your child’s growth, once you have selected the right car seat be sure to thoroughly read the installation instructions provided by the manufacturer of the car seat and consult with your vehicle’s owner’s manual for any vehicle specific guidelines or instructions.
CAR SEAT SAFETY GUIDELINES
- Always use a car seat; it’s part of the RI car seat law. This needn’t be said, but you would be surprised.
- Read your car seat manual and then Read it again! Follow the weight and height requirements of the seat. Follow the installation instructions.
- Don’t buckle a child in with a heavy jacket. In the event of an accident, the force can compress the straps against the jacket and suddenly the straps are too loose and the child is not secured. HELPFUL MOMMY TIP: First, place your child in his/her car seat with an unzipped jacket on. Second, secure the car seat straps and cinch them tight. Lastly, zipper the jacket over the straps. Problem Solved!
- NEVER put Baby in the front seat; The most secure position for him/her is in the center of the back seat.
- Try not to put unnecessary toys or accessories in the back seat with your child. In the event of an accident, these things can become projectiles. If the item isn’t safe to be thrown at your child’s head, then don’t leave it loose in the back seat!
- When installing a car seat, you don’t want anything more than an inch of wiggle room on either side and in the front or back of the seat. Be sure to make the belt as tight as possible. Your local police station will be happy to assist you with installing your child’s car seat. Just call ahead and ask.
- Using the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) and the seatbelt method is not safe! It may seem like ‘double security’ but it would be much safer if one method was chosen. The total weight of the seat and child should be no more than 65 pounds when using LATCH.
- Don’t transition to a different car seat too early. The seats are built for children who meet certain specifications; the premature change could do more harm than good. In turn, do not opt for a seat which is too large in hopes your baby will grow into it.
- If you aren’t positive that you have installed your car seat correctly, go to a car seat inspection station. Find one near you at NHTSA—the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Lastly, if you want to make the seatbelt as secure as possible during installation (of the car seat, not the baby) push down on it while tightening the belt.
Granted, these are not the only tips you should follow; there are many sites such as the RI DMV and other car seat safety sites that can further your knowledge of how to install and transition from seat to seat. Nonetheless, nothing is more informative than reading the manual! If you plan on getting a used car seat don’t select anything six years or older, or that has been in a car crash. Protecting your baby is the first concern of any parent, be informed.