Ask the Expert: Car Seat Safety
The car seat is one of the best protection devices developed for children. The incidence of death and serious injury of children in accidents when properly restrained has decreased dramatically. The key is properly restrained. There are several common mistakes that many parents unknowingly make when putting their precious child in their car seat.
- The chest clip should be positioned at the nipple line, or directly even with your child’s arm pits. The harness straps should be snug. When your child is buckled in, with your thumb and forefinger try to pinch up the harness strap. If you can pinch any excess, the harness is too loose.
- The car seat must be installed tight. When installed, you should not be able to move the car seat more than an inch side to side or front to back.
- Dirty harness straps are safer than washed ones! They are NOT meant to be washed. The straps can be stretched and the material broken down from detergent and water. If you must wash the straps, the best way is spot cleaning with a damp cloth.
- The correct harness strap position depends if your child is backward facing or forward facing. When your child is facing backward, the harness straps should be coming out at or below your child’s shoulders. When your child is forward facing, the harness straps should be coming out at or above your child’s shoulders.
- Car seats need to be replaced after a crash.
- Do not buy or borrow a used car seat.
- Do not put your child in a heavy winter coat in a car seat. In the event of a crash, the puffy, heavy coat will be compressed by the harness straps due to the force of the crash. As that jacket compresses, the straps become loose, and your child could be ejected from the car. So how do you keep your child warm? Warm the car up first, throw a blanket over the child after the child is strapped in the seat, or for an older child put their winter coat on backwards after the child is strapped in.
- Until your child outgrows the weight limit of your convertible car seat keep them rear facing. The American Academy of Pediatrics is saying rear facing until AT LEAST 2! The weight limit for rear-facing is 35-40 pounds for most convertible seats, with a few seats going as high as 45 pounds.
By Lauren George, Child Care Answers Infant/Toddler Specialist
Article adapted from Cindy Love, https://raisingkidswithlove.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/did-you-know-this-about-car-seats/