Last week, my parents and sister came into town to cuddle some babies. There was a lot of this
and a little of this.
Much fun was had, and my parents got to relive all over again the joys of getting peed on by a potty-training toddler. Whoops, sorry, Mom!
At some point during their visit, we transferred Oscar's car seat to their car, and then back to ours, which brought the subject of car seat installation to my mind. Over these past couple years, I have discovered piece by piece how very little I actually knew about car seat safety in the beginning. Car seat safety is one thing I never hear discussed, which is ironic, considering that this actually is one of the real life-and-death decisions one can make as a parent. I am increasingly more and more thankful that we haven't gotten into a wreck, because the majority of the time that we've been using car seats, we have been using them incorrectly!
So here is a little FYI post of tips I have picked up over the course of two years for car seat safety. Maybe everyone already knows these, and I have just been living under a rock, but if they help just one person, I'll consider this post worth the time it took to type!
1. Children should avoid wearing puffy coats in their car seat during the winter. They can compress during an accident and possibly cause the child to slip entirely out of the car seat. Here's a video talking more about it.
2. The chest buckle needs to be up high, around the child's nipple or armpit area.
3. Straps need to be tight enough around your child so that you can't pinch the slack. "Snug as a hug" as is the saying that keeps getting tossed around.
4. When installing the car seat, it's best to actually get in the car and press down on the seat with your full body weight.while tightening the restraints. That car seat needs to be tightly embedded in that seat! If the seat can shift more than 1" in any direction, then it's too loose!
5. Forward-facing is illegal until one year of age, but the AAP recommends rear-facing until two years, or even longer. In Europe, it's not uncommon to see kids rear-facing until three or four. The chance of serious injury from a car crash is significantly reduced by rear-facing. More on that here. The footage of a forward-facing crash test as opposed to rear-facing is definitely worth seeing!
6. Children should stay in a harnessed car seat until they are at least 4 years old and 40 pounds; then, they should use a booster seat until they are 8 years, 80 pounds, or 4'9".
7. Not sure if your seat is installed correctly? You can talk to a local Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST), usually at a fire or police department, and have them look over your setup. Find a CPST here.
I'm sure there is more, but these were the big ones I didn't know. Happy driving!