Motherhood is a beautifully weird mishmash of pleasant surprises and tough challenges. I can write home about the myriad of challenges we moms face everyday but for this segment, I’ll stick to car seat safety. This piece of equipment is one of the essential must-haves for your junior. Looking for car seat safety tips? This one is for you.
If you are expecting a baby or just had a baby and don’t know a thing about how car seats work, I am here to give you all the details you will need. Car seats are considered to be the safest way to travel with a newborn in a car.
Considering the magnitude of vehicle accidents and casualties we read about in the newspaper every day, it’s important to learn about the correct ways to install a car seat. A little extra knowledge won’t hurt and can save your little angel’s life in a nightmare scenario.
I know you have a baby to take care of, so I’ll cut straight to the chase. Here is a quick run-down of 7 car-seat safety tips.
Car Seat Safety Tips
Choose the Right Car Seat
You will be overwhelmed with the sheer number of car seat models available for kids. For newborns up to 6 months, it’s best to go with a rear-facing infant-only car seat. They are specially designed to fit the size, height, and weight of preemies and babies up to 35 pounds.
Alternatively, you can also go for an age and size-appropriate convertible seat (that supports up to 40 pounds) that will grow with your baby. Most convertibles can be used from birth. Keep the seats rear-facing until your baby reaches the max height and weight limit of the seat for optimal safety.
No matter how solid and sleek the car seat looks, if it’s not federally approved, it’s not worth your and your baby’s time. Also, search your model in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s car seat recall database. If it’s not there, register your model name, number. and manufacturing date and check if it has been recalled. If your car seat model has been called and has even a minor glitch according to the website, either get it fixed or replace it. Your baby’s safety comes first. Period.
Carefully Read the Instruction Manual
Your car seat will do the job right only when it’s installed and used properly. The model you intend to buy must be suitable for your vehicle as well. So go through the car seat and as well as your car’s manual to learn the safest and most effective way to set up the car seat in your vehicle.
A quality car seat model manual will not only have written instructions but also diagrams to help you install the seat properly in your vehicle. If you are still not sure you are doing it right, drop by your local car seat inspection station to make sure everything is in order.
For children below 6 months, the rear-facing car seat should be always placed at the back seat of your vehicle. Never at the front seat. If you own a two-seater vehicle, then push the seat as far back as it will go. Most importantly, disable the airbags using the cut-off switch in your vehicle.
And as for the angle, it will depend on the model. An infant will feel most comfortable between 30-45 degree angles. But you can fine-tune it a little bit according to your child’s comfort. But remember not to incline it more than 45 degrees.
Tips on Harnessing
This is the most crucial part of infant car seat safety. A loose car seat strap is a shortcut to hell. After fastening the harness, pinch the harness straps. If you can easily pinch the strap fabric between your fingers, it’s not tight enough. Tighten it further, but not so much that your baby feels suffocated. Always make sure the clips are right at the center of your little one’s chest.
No Bulky Clothing
Every top certified child passenger safety technician will advise you against putting bulk clothing such as thick jackets on your baby while harnessing him to the car seat. Thick clothes will naturally create a space between your baby’s body and the straps which could potentially eject the child from the seat in case of a collision.
Always make the baby wear thin, comfy clothes and put on a blanket on top of the seat if it’s too cold outside. You can also invest in a specialized car seat safety coat to keep your precious one warm and comfy in freezing cold weather.
The Bottom Line
You can do your homework, watch hours of YouTube tutorials, get all the tips in the world and still struggle to install the car seat properly. If your gut tells you that the seat isn’t properly installed, trust your gut and seek professional help.
I’m sure you can find a Child Passenger Safety certified car installer nearby with a little web scouring. To sum up, always listen to your mom/dad guts. If you think something isn’t right, get it fixed ASAP. And don’t worry too much.
I know traveling with a tiny baby comes with a heck ton of responsibilities but at the end of the day, it will turn out to be an experience you will fondly recall when your tiny buttercups grow up and you grow older with them.