15 Mistakes New Parents Make With The Carseat

In the US, the number one danger for kids is injuries sustained from car crashes. What's truly tragic about this is that it could have been avoided...

In the United States, the number one danger facing children is injuries sustained from car crashes. What is truly tragic about this is that most of it could have been avoided if their car seat had been installed properly or the child had been put in the car seat correctly. Most car seats are installed improperly and parents might not even be aware of it.

Children may not be put in the seat properly, which could lead to a higher risk of injury in the event of a car crash. When a parent buys and installs a car seat for the first time, it is worth having it looked over by someone who is certified. There are currently over 6,000 places in the United States where a car seat can be inspected for free.

By having a certified technician instruct parents on the proper way to install car seats, many lives can be saved. It is important too that a parent takes all factors into consideration when purchasing a car seat to make sure it is the best fit for their car and not purchase one simply based on outward appearances and special features. It is the job of the parent to be an informed consumer and follow the installation instructions to the letter to prevent injury to their child.

15Making The Right Choice

Most car seats selected for children are not a good match based on the size, age and/or weight. Parents try to find which one is best, but oftentimes choose the incorrect model for their child. It is best that the parents spend some time researching a car seat before they purchase it. After purchasing the car seat, read the manual. When the child grows, it will be important to check to see if they are still a good fit for that car seat.

When they are too big, it is time to move up to the next car seat. Keep the child rear facing for as long as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping a child rear facing for their first two years of life. Avoid buying used car seats as there is no way to be sure of the quality of the car seat. It could have missing parts, be expired and been in an accident.

14Cost And Effectiveness

There is no correlation between the cost of a car seat and its effectiveness. Every car seat sold in the United States must pass a stringent government crash and fire safety standard. An off-brand car seat and a name brand car seat must pass the same level of inspection before being allowed to be sold to the consumer.

When buying a car seat, if a parent chooses to spend more money on a car seat, they are not spending more on safety but on features or having a name brand or a certain design. If a parent is looking to save money on buying a car seat, it is important to rethink buying one secondhand. The parent purchasing the used car seat cannot be sure that the integrity of the car seat has been upheld.

13It's Not Installed Safely

Most car seats are installed incorrectly. This could mean that the children sitting in the car seats are at a greater risk of injury than not sitting in a car seat at all. There are several ways the car seat has been installed. One way is that the seat belt has been improperly routed. Another is forgetting to put the seat belts in lock mode.

Another is using the seat belt and the lower anchors at the same time. Parents connect the tethers and the lower anchors to the wrong points in the car. Some parents forget to use the tethers entirely. Lastly, parents forget to put enough weight on the seat belt when it is installed. In order to avoid all these potentially life-threatening mistakes, take the installed car seat to a professional once it is installed.

12Why Refuse Professional Help?

Car seats are a serious piece of equipment. While it might be hard to view it that way as it may be covered in various baby designs, the car seat spent countless hours being engineered for safety, was put through rigorous testing to ensure quality and safety were upheld, then finally sold to the consumers. If the car seat is installed incorrectly, the entire engineer was for nothing.

There is nothing that the engineers could have done differently if the car seat is not put in correctly. Certified car seat safety technicians find on average around three errors in a car seat installation. This is why it is important to have car seats inspected once they are installed in the car. This will ensure that the car seat is installed properly and that the car seat is in the optimal position should a car accident occur.

11Don't Neglect The Harness

The correct application of the harness is that it should fit very snug against the child or baby’s body. However, some parents do not do this because they feel their child may be uncomfortable if the harness is so snug. It is important that it is snug because it acts as a cushion or safety net during a crash. It lessens the impact. A properly fitted harness should only allow for one finger to fit between the harness strap and the collarbone.

If a chest clip is fitted correctly, it should be at armpit height. It is important that children remove any bulky pieces of clothing before being strapped into the car seat. The clothing can interfere with the harness. Do not add any accessories. If accessories are to be added to the car seat, it is important that they are certified for car seat use.

10Forward Facing

It is important not to turn the car seat from rear facing to forward facing too early. While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping a child rear facing until they are two, it is important to keep in mind that it is perfectly safe to keep them rear facing longer. In fact, it is five times safer to keep a two-year-old rear facing than forward facing.

Delaying turning them even after it is recommended has added safety benefits. It may mean transitioning from an infant seat to a convertible seat that can be rear facing. It is still recommended to keep them rear facing even if their legs touch the back of the seat or they have to keep the legs bent to fit. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t safe.

9Not Using A Tether

Tethers are a very important safety feature that should not be ignored when using a forward facing car seat. The purpose of the tether is to keep the car seat in place and within the limits of the car seat. The tether is attached to an anchor behind a headrest. If the tether is installed correctly, in the event of an accident it will keep a child’s head from moving around half a foot during the accident.

While this may not seem significant, it could prevent the child from hitting their head on the seat in front of them, the door frame or window. This decreases the likelihood of spinal cord or brain injury as a result of the crash. A properly secured tether will be very taut with no wiggle room.

8Parents Forgetting To Buckle Up

Whether a parent or adult is sitting in the front seat or back seat, make sure that their seat belts are buckled at all times. Everyone in the car should be wearing a seat belt. A passenger who is unbuckled poses a great threat to those around them. In a car accident, passengers who are unbuckled increase the chances of the buckled passengers dying in a car accident by two to four times.

The scientific explanation behind this is that the person’s weight is increased significantly because of the force of gravity on their body. In a 30-mile-per-hour crash, a person who weighs 100 pounds will have the force of 2,000 to 2,500 pounds. If someone were to be hit with a ton, their likelihood of surviving would be slim.

7Airplanes Matter Too

The Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend that a child sit in a car seat while flying. Any time a child is in a moving vehicle, they should sit in a car seat and an airplane is classified as a moving vehicle. This has the added bonus of being more comfortable for the child.

They may be more likely to sleep on the plane if they are more comfortable. They advise children sit in them because of turbulence and sudden loss of pressure in the cabin, which could cause the plane to drop. Small children are considered a safety hazard because the seat belts are oftentimes too big for the child or if the parents are holding them which means they could be thrown around during those times. They could potentially hurt themselves or others.

6Forgetting Car Seats

If a child is offered a ride home by a friend or family member and they don’t have a car seat, it is best to decline the offer. When a child is not in a car seat, it poses serious risks to the child in the event of a car accident. If someone is going to drop their child off by the soccer fields near their house, think twice.

Sixty percent of car accidents take place within a 10-minute driving radius from their home. Seventy-five percent of them occur when the speed in under 45 miles per hour. Nearly all accidents occur with drivers who are familiar with the route they are taking. Parents should ensure that their children are safe, regardless of the few minutes it might save them.

5Front Seat

Under no circumstances should a child sit in the front seat. They should stay in the back seat until they are 13 years old. At that time, they should be allowed to sit up front. No car seat should ever be in the front seat as that is considered very unsafe. All children should be safely buckled up in the back seat.

Even if they are too big for car seats or booster seats, they should still remain in the back. The chances of them hitting the windshield are greatly diminished. Children in the front seat could be injured if the airbag is deployed because of its rapid inflation and size compared to the child. There should be no doubts that it is unsafe for a child to sit up front. Their chances of injury are greatly increased.

4Tossing The Booster Seat Early

Parents may feel pressured to move their children out of booster seats before the child should be allowed to. Seat belts are designed for people who are taller. If a child is less than four feet nine inches tall, they are too short for a seat belt without a booster seat. Children might request to no longer sit in a booster seat because it is perceived to be for small children and they want to assert their independence. They also may want to be viewed as more grown up.

If a seat belt doesn’t fit a child properly, it could be a greater danger to them than help. If the shoulder strap is not fitting correctly, then it could cause serious injury to their head or spinal cord. A child may need to stay in a booster seat until they are physically big as well as mature enough.

3Car Seats Outside Of The Car

Car seats are designed to be used inside cars. When they are taken out of cars, they should not be used as a seat or a crib. Babies should not be left in car seats for prolonged periods of time. It can create health risks. It can help to create a flat spot on the back of the baby’s head, inhibit their ability to breathe or irritate the chronic digestive disease GERD.

It also poses a greater risk of injury as the child who is not properly secured in their car seat can fall out. If the car seat is placed up high and not being properly looked after, the child and seat could fall. It is fine if the child falls asleep in the car, but don’t let them sleep for an extended period out of the car in the seat.

2Reclining Incorrectly

It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when reclining a child’s rear facing car seat. Following the instructions will help keep the baby’s head from flopping forward. Smaller babies should always be partially reclined to prevent their airways from becoming blocked. As the child grows, it will be necessary to adjust how the seat is reclined. The older they become, the more the child should be seated in an upright position.

Also, the older a child becomes, the more control they will have over their muscles and the less likely they are to nap in the car. Most car seats come with an angle indicator that will say what size a child should be in order to be reclined in which position. The angle that a child is suggested to be reclined in is for their safety. Manufacturers have put the seats through rigorous testing.

1Moving To A Booster Seat Too Soon

Children should be moved up to booster seats once they have reached 40 pounds in weight. Some booster seats might allow for children who are 35 pounds, but in general it is 40 pounds. Some booster seats require that the child be a certain height. It is important to do research before purchasing a booster seat to make sure it is appropriate for the child.

Try to avoid moving the child to a booster seat for as long as possible. The longer they are in a seat with a harness, the safer they are. Once they meet the physical requirements to move to the next car seat, then move them to a booster seat. Moving a child who is not physically big enough for a booster seat can be dangerous.

Sources: Parenting, Mayo Clinic

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