If you have a baby, then you will need a car seat to take your baby home from the hospital. Since life with a baby is hard enough as it is, here are some car seat safety tips that will save your sanity and potentially your bundle of joy’s life. These are car seat safety tips that every parent should read!
Tip #1: Keep Your Baby Rear-Facing As Long As Possible
Many parents worry about their child’s legs being bent as they get older, but keeping your baby rear facing protects your child’s head and vital organs. A broken leg, though awful, is much easier to fix than a major head or spinal injury.
- In Ontario, infants are required by law to stay rear facing until at least 20 lbs. Every state and province have a different law, so check out the laws where you live
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children should stay in rear facing car seats at least until the age of two and preferably until the height and weight limit has been reached for the car seat. Most convertible car seats can remain rear facing until 40 lbs
- According to an analysis of U.S. crash data, one year olds are five times less likely to be injured in a crash if they are rear-facing instead of forward-facing
Here is a great video comparing the effects of rear-facing and forward-facing for children in accidents.
Tip #2: Install Your Car Seat Correctly
While 96% of parents believe their car seats are installed correctly, in fact 7/10 car seats are not used properly.
- Follow your car seats manual for instructions. If none exist or they are lost, try looking them up online or call the manufacturer
- Set your car seat up ahead of time before baby is born so that you are not rushed and have time to familiarize yourself before there is a baby in it
- Ask around for a car seat clinic, where someone will be willing to double check your car seat installation
- Putting pressure with your knee or hand while pulling the strap up will help attach a convertible car seat or infant base tightly to your car
Tip #3: Stay Away From Puffy Coats
The extra material from blankets and coats between baby and the car seat can effect how snugly your baby is strapped into his car seat
- Unzip toddler coats and pull away from their body so they won’t effect how tight the seat belt is
- Never put a baby dressed in a snow suit in a car seat. Dress him lightly and then apply a blanket over top for warmth, or buy a car seat cover for your infant car seat to keep your baby toasty warm
- Take the time to warm up the car in winter months before putting kids inside so they don’t need to wear winter attire
- Don’t buy additional items to add to your car seat (head rests, liners) as they may change how your car seat performs during a crash
You have to take this video with a grain of salt since it appears that they excessively loosened the straps on purpose. However, the point that winter coats in car seats can put your child at risk is still very important.
Tip #4: Adjust Car Seat Straps
- Tighten car seat straps until there is only a finger width of space between the harness and your baby’s collarbone
- Always put the chest clip at your baby’s armpit level to avoid strangulation (too high) or injury to vital organs (too low)
- Fix straps that become twisted
- Generally straps should be just below shoulder level for rear facing, and just above for forward facing
Tip #5: Always Put Your Baby In The Back Seat
- Children under the age of 13 are supposed to sit in the back seat at all times
- The passenger seat is the most dangerous part of the car. If you have to drive with a small child in the passenger seat, make sure that the seat is as far back as possible, with the air bags turned off
- Make a habit of always checking the back seat of your car before leaving to make sure your child isn’t accidentally left behind
Tip #6: Try To Avoid Giving Food in the Car
- Giving your child food and drink in a car seat can put him at risk of choking. This could lead to a scary situation that you won’t be able to deal with in the middle of a busy intersection or traffic jam
- Of course schedules can get short, kids get grumpy and there will be no other way to survive the day than to give your toddler a snack in the car. Always choose foods that are not easy to choke on
A mom that loses her baby in a fatal car crash urges other parents to use car seats properly.
Tip #7: Keep An Eye On Your Car Seat’s Condition
- Check your car seats expiration date and write it out in a place that you can keep check from time to time. Car seats have varying expiration dates ranging from 5 – 10 years. If it’s expired, throw it out!
- Throw out car seats that have been in accidents, even if it was empty at the time. Use caution when buying used car seats for this reason
- Fix or throw out car seats that have any rips or tears in the belts. You can always check to see if it’s under warranty
- Watch for any recalls
Tip #8: Use Your Car Seat Only For Travel
- Car seats are only meant to be used for travel, and are not to be used for sleeping, eating or any other reason
- If you are going for a visit at someone’s house, bring along a travel crib so you can lie baby down if needed
- If you choose to leave your baby in the car seat while he’s sleeping (which I don’t judge you for as I know never to wake a sleeping baby!), always keep an eye on them
- Never place a baby in a car seat on a high surface. They should always be placed on the floor to prevent falls
- Never leave a baby unattended in a car seat, especially with other young children or animals around
Do you have any other car seat safety tips to keep kids safe? Please share in the comment section below to help other mamas!