By Stephanie Coffin
Car seats can be complicated, where do you begin, how do you know if you installed it properly? What seat is the best? And since motor vehicle accidents account for millions of deaths per year, you want to make sure that your seat is installed properly.
Car seat mistakes are common, make sure to use these tips —
1. Installing a car seat is difficult, read all directions and get it inspected or installed by a professional. Safe kids USA has certified installers and check points all over the United States.
2. When installing the seat you should use a seatbelt or your vehicles LATCH system, never both. They counter-act each other and should never be used at the same time.
3. Your vehicle’s latch system has a weight limit. Most are 40 pounds, but check your vehicles owner’s manual for your particular vehicle.
4. When your car seat is installed, you should not be able to move the seat more than one inch from side to side.
5. To insure that your child is protected properly, make sure the straps are in the proper place —
- Rear facing seats: Straps should sit at or below your child’s shoulders.
- Forward facing seats: Straps should sit at or above your child’s shoulders.
6. Make sure you follow the American Academy of Pediatrics car seat guide:
- Infant Seats: Always rear facing – child can stay in the seat until they reach the height or weight limit – but have to be rear facing until the child is one year and 20 pounds but the longer they stay rear facing the better.
- Convertible seat: Most can be both rear and forward facing. Keep your child rear facing until they reach the height or weight limit of the seat or are 2 years old, they can move to forward facing once they reach one year old and 20 pounds, but it is recommended that they stay rear facing as long as possible. Once they are forward facing, they can stay in the seat until they reach the height or weight limit but at least 4 years old and 40 pounds.
- Booster Seats: The booster seat is the seat that allows the child to transition into a regular seat. Your child needs to be 4 years old, 40 pounds and mature enough to sit still using a regular seatbelt.
- Once the child reaches 4’9” they are no longer require a seatbelt. This is usually between the ages of 8 and 12. They still need to ride in the back seat and make sure they use a seat belt properly.
7. The chest clips always need to be even with the child’s armpits.
8. The straps on the car seat need to be tight enough to be able to slide only one finger under the straps. You can also do the pinch test: if you can pinch the strap then it is too loose.
9. You should always remove a child’s winter coat before putting them in the car seat. The coat can cause the child to be ejected from the car seat if there was an accident.
10. Rear facing car seats should always be placed in the back seat. If there is no back seat then the air bag needs to be turned off.
11. If you add anything to the seat, like a newborn headrest, liner, etc it may void the manufacturer warranty. Always check the manual for full details.
12. If you were in a car accident, you will need to purchase a new seat – if the crash occurred on the side of the car where the car seat is, if the air bags deployed, or if the car is not drivable after the crash replace the seat.
13. Always know when your car seat expires – yes all have a car seats have an expiration date.
14. Never buy a used car seat. Most seats go through more wear and tear than you can see, plus all the information like expiration date, crash details, etc may not be included.
15. Never put the seat on top of the shopping cart – the seats are not designed to fit on the cart and the added weight put on the cart makes it at risk to tip.
16. Install the car seat before you go to the hospital – It is recommended to have the seat installed by the 37th week of pregnancy.
Remember car seat safety is key, and making sure you follow these tips you will make your child’s seat the safest possible place!
Bellies Babies and Beyond simplifies parenthood by providing comprehensive resources to expecting, new and seasoned parents. Navigate your pregnancy and the first years of your child’s life with trusted and nurturing advice. As your one-stop-shop we will guide you throughout the uneasy anticipation of expecting and raising your child. Owner, Stephanie Coffin, has 15+ years in the childcare industry as well as Charleston, South Carolina’s premier baby planner! You can follow Bellies Babies and Beyond on Twitter @Bellies Beyond and like them on Facebook.