Car seat safety should be a priority for every parent who drives their children around on a regular basis. Despite the proven safety of properly using car seats, many parents still don't follow the official recommendations or know the actual laws of driving their children safely around. Education is key to safety and saving lives.
Using an appropriate car seat every single time you drive may save your child's life one day. The following tips are exclusively brought to BabyGaga by Design 911 safety experts who are dedicated to keeping everyone as safe as possible. See if you learn something new and make any adjustments you need to.
Get the Right Seat
When buying a car seat for your new baby, and every seat they will need as they grow, you need to get the correct one. This seems obvious but there are so many seats on the market it can be confusing. Make sure you're getting a seat that will fit your child. The seat should accommodate your child's height and weight perfectly. Newborns usually need an infant seat with a base that they can be carried around and even attached to a stroller, but some parents opt for a rear-facing convertible seat.
Infants and toddlers up to two years old must be rear-facing but consider rear-facing for even longer. A rear-facing child is safer in the event of a car accident. Young children have underdeveloped muscles and bones making them more susceptible to injury. Facing backward their bodies won't fold into themselves and snapback. Rear-facing they will instead be secure and their seat will absorb the impact. Also, make sure it fits comfortably in your car as well. Don't get one that is too big and can be put next to other seats if needed.
Rear Face For As Long As Possible
Most kids can safely rear face until about five years old. This is more so based on their weight than height. There are many seats on the market today that allow rear-facing for kids up 50 lbs. At this weight limit, most kids will outgrow their seat in height first Speaking of height, many parents are concerned with rear-facing toddlers having too long of legs in the back and keeping them folded. Don't worry about this. They're kids! Their legs won't hurt and aren't at any big risk of breaking.
Children have a greater risk of breaking their necks if they face forward too early and are in a major car accident. We'll take a broken leg over that any day.
Check the Expiration Date
Yes, car seats do expire. The plastic and metal parts in the seat can wear over time from use and heat. Seats usually last between seven and ten years. Keep track of it especially when using seats for younger siblings or a seat that can grow with your child for years. The date should be located on the back of the seat itself.
Again, this seems obvious but always buckle in your child properly and enforce car safety rules as your kid grows. Always buckle them in and make sure they stay that way. In a five-point harness, the chest clip should be level with their armpits and tight enough you can't pinch the straps on their shoulders. That doesn't necessarily mean the belt should be tight on their bellies. If there is some space there, that is ok.
Older children in boosters and shoulder belts should have the belt rest on their shoulder. It shouldn't be anywhere near their face or head. Set an example and always wear your seat belt properly.
Consider A Sticker
Baby-On-Board stickers are bright yellow and let other drivers know you have precious cargo in tow. They may not be the coolest decor around but they can work too. They can alert other drivers to drive safer around you. Or in the event of a car accident, first responders will know you have a young child to look for and help first.
Regulate the Temperature
Even when driving and in the car, keep the temperature comfortable. The backseat will always be warmer so be mindful of that in hot weather. Open the windows or use the air conditioning to keep the kiddos comfortable. Never leave your child alone in a car for any amount of time, especially in the summer. Temperatures in cars rise extremely fast.
These tips should be followed and can be instrumental in your child's safety. It can be a pain to ensure your kid is properly belted in every single time you drive, but you never know what can happen. Most kids will need to be in at least a booster seat until at least 8 years old depending on their size.