Today is the final day of Baby Safety Month, and I’d like to take this opportunity to share some car seat safety tips with you from Julie Prom, Car Seat Safety Advocate for Chicco. Making sure that your child is properly secured in the car seat that is correct for their size is extremely important should I car accident occur. Even if you think you know everything there is to know about car seat safety, I urge you to read over these tips and share them with your friends and family.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend rear-facing as long as possible. Parents should keep child rear-facing until at least 2 years old, longer if the car safety seat weight and height limit allows. Young children are fragile and are best protected in a rear-facing car seat. To ensure a child can stay rear-facing as long as possible, purchase a convertible seat when your baby outgrows the infant seat.
- Most children younger than 5-years old are not mature enough to sit without a full harness. Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until at least 5 or 6 years old.
- Most common mistakes can be avoided by simply following manufacturers’ instructions. All car seats must meet stringent Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to be sold in the U.S. It is when they are not used correctly that makes them unsafe. Always read and follow the instructions for the safety seat. Also, read the vehicle owner’s manual section on child restraints.
- Always buckle your baby into the safety seat first, and then cover the baby with blankets. Avoid bulky clothing and add-on products such as car seat buntings. This can interfere with proper harness fit and crash performance of the seat. A good trick for older children is to buckle them in without their jacket and then put it back on them backwards over the harness. Not only do these techniques ensure proper harness fit, but also avoids overheating by allowing the baby to be easily uncovered or the child to take his jacket off once the car gets warmer.
Car Seat Installation Tips
- Air Bags and Children Don’t Mix – NEVER place a rear-facing car seat in the front an active frontal air bag, serious injury or death can occur.
- Back Seat is Best – The back seat is safest for all children. Keep children in the back seat until at least age 13.
- A car seat must be installed tightly in the vehicle to do its job. If you can move the seat at the belt path more than an inch side to side or front to back, it’s not tight enough.
- Forward-facing – A Tether is Always Better! – Always use the tether when using a forward-facing car seat. A tether will help hold the top of the car seat back and provide better protection for the child.
- Rear-facing – Keep baby’s Airway Open – Make sure a rear-facing car seat is at the correct angle so your infant’s head does not fall forward.
- Harness Height – Rear-facing, harness should be at or BELOW the child’s shoulders. Forward-facing, harness should be at or ABOVE the child’s shoulders.
- Harness Snug – Make sure the harness is snug! There should be no slack in the harness at the baby’s shoulders. Avoid bulky clothing; this can interfere with harness fit.
- Booster Seats – Ensure the adult safety belt is threaded properly through the belt guides. The lap belt should be on child’s lower hips/upper thighs and the shoulder belt should lay flat across the middle of the child’s shoulder and chest.
- Less than one third (31 percent) of parents are following manufacturer’s safety guidelines when deciding when to transition their child’s car seat from rear- to forward-facing.
- Car seat safety experts recommend parents keep their children rear-facing as long as possible and transition to forward-facing only when their car seat manufacturer’s guidelines are met. However, nearly half of parents (49 percent) are choosing to turn their child’s car seat based on comfort, rather than safety. Top reasons parents transition their child’s car seat from rear- to forward-facing are because their child’s feet were touching the vehicle seat (31 percent), followed by their child being too uncomfortable (10 percent) or fussy (8 percent) when rear-facing.
- Despite widespread understanding that children in car seats should remain rear-facing as longs as possible, a whopping 58 percent of parents underestimate the age at which it is safe to turn their child’s car seat to the forward- facing position.
- One-in-five (19 percent) parents say it was difficult installing a convertible car seat, yet parents are 40 percent less likely to get professional help installing a convertible car seat than an infant seat (15 percent vs. 25 percent, respectively).
Please take some time before your next car ride to make sure your child’s car seat is the correct size and installed safely and correctly. If you are unsure of the installation click here to search for a car seat inspection station using your zip code or state.