I clearly remember one of the first terrifying moments of being a parent: the car ride home from the hospital. Suddenly, you’re hyper aware of both the responsibility that has been placed on you as a new parent with a brand new life sitting beside you, as well as all the awful drivers who take to the road every day. Try as we might to keep our babies safe, accidents still happen. Whether you are at fault or not, car accidents can be one of the scariest scenarios to think about, and especially to experience. The only way to ease your mind, other than getting in touch with a good car accident lawyer, is to make sure you’re making the right choices when it comes to choosing and using your child’s car seat. Here are just a few tips from the experts we think everyone should read.
1. Choose The Correct Seat
Despite countless infographics and common sense floating around out there, new parents (and even seasoned) can still make the wrong choice when it comes to selecting a car seat. Choosing the correct car seat is THE most important step when it comes to car seat safety, because each seat is designed with your child’s height and weight in mind. Using a car seat that is not designed for your child can mean awful consequences in the event of an accident. Depending on the age of your child, you will be choosing between 4 options: an infant seat, convertible, harness-to-booster, and booster seat. There is much to know about each style, and that’s why we want you to check out the amazing guide from BabyCubby.com. Not only will you find tips on selecting the appropriate seat, but you’ll also find a great selection of gear and clothing for baby.
The Baby Cubby team is made up of parents who are passionate about encouraging, inspiring, and reminding parents how amazing they are and how important their role is.This is accomplished by finding the best and safest baby gear and providing it to parents in a fun shopping experience, as well as price matching everyday (even on Amazon!), offering free shipping nationwide at BabyCubby.com and actively engage with parents via social media and the cubby community blog.
2. Rear Face As Long As Possible
While each state’s laws differ when it comes to when you can legally turn your child from rear to forward facing, car seat experts have been saying that rear facing is the safest for many years. It can be tempting to turn your child as soon as they hit their first birthday, but the potential injury as a result of an accident may be enough to change your mind. When rear facing, your child can be protected by the seat back when hit by sudden force- stopping head and neck injury. Experts state that as long as they don’t outgrow your seat’s height and weight requirement for rear facing (check your manual- each seat is different), they can rear face for years! The minimum suggestion is to remain rear facing until at least age 2, and while little legs won’t be able to hang down, kids can still find a comfy position and stay as safe as possible.
3. Consider Car Seat Installation
It may seem like overkill to have someone install a car seat, but when it comes to your child’s life, nothing is too much, right? Studies have shown that most injuries sustained by children in car seats during accidents are a result of improper car seat installation, not as a result of the car seat itself. There is much to know about tethers, LATCH installation, seat belt usage and proper placement within your back seat, so don’t leave it to chance. There are many organizations who will both perform and inspect your car seat installation to ensure the safest scenario for your kids. Check out SafeKids.org and you’ll find a great list of events and technicians in your area.
4. Use Straps & Buckles Correctly
The straps and buckles on your car seat are the means to keep your child contained and safe, so using them properly is key. Straps should be pulled tight enough to pass the “pinch” test, in which you cannot grab any amount of strap enough to pinch between your fingers. They should be tight, but not so tight it restricts your child’s complete movement and breathing. Babies should never be left with loose or unsecured straps, especially when moving an infant from the car to the house. Parents often don’t want to wake their sleeping child but will remove their straps to provide extra comfort. This can pose as a serious hazard, including accidental strangulation. The check buckle should be moved up to be at armpit level, not chin or abdomen. Improper placement of this buckle could mean broken ribs or other serious injury in the event of an accident.
5. Never Use An Expired Or Damaged Seat
Well meaning family and friends don’t hesitate in handing down baby paraphernalia and that may include a used car seat. However, car seats do have an expiration date that is usually 6 years after being manufactured. While a car seat may look great in appearance, over time the extreme heat and cold from sitting in your car can cause the plastic and styrofoam in your seat to break down and be less effective. Since these parts are the ones that provide protection, you should never use an expired seat. All new car seats come with a label or imprint of the manufacture date located somewhere on the backside of the seat, so check to make sure yours is still safe to use.
Likewise, seats that have been in accidents can be damaged in ways that can’t be seen with the naked eye. You should always contact your car insurance in the event of an accident, as most will cover the cost of a replacement seat. Even small fender benders often result in the need for a new seat. You should always know the history of a used car seat, and whether or not it’s been in an accident. Unless the seller has been the only owner and knows the complete history of anyone who’s ever used or borrowed the seat, it’s just not worth the risk of using.