Shopping for car seats can be extremely overwhelming! There are so many products on the market, and it can be hard to know what the right choices are- not to mention how expensive everything is! Car seats are a prime example where high price does not always equate with the best choice. In addition, once you choose a car seat, it’s equally important to use them the right way to make car rides as safe as possible. Here are some Do's and Don'ts to consider when choosing a car seat and using it safely.
As your child ages and grows, so should their car seat. I know kids grow so fast, but keeping up with their car seat requirements will keep them safe and secure. For infants and toddlers, rear-facing seats or convertible seats offer the most protection from head and spinal cord injuries. When your child turns 2 and has outgrown the maximum weight and height limits on their rear-facing seats, it's time to put them in a front-facing seat.Children should remain in a convertible seat with a harness for as long as possible, to the highest weight and height allowed by the manufacturer (most go up to 65lb or more). Once your child outgrows their forward-facing seat, use a belt-positioning booster seat until they are tall enough that a normal seat belt fits well. This typically occurs when they are 4-foot-9 inches tall at about 8-12 years old. Additionally, I know kids beg to sit up front, but until they turn 13 years old, keep them in the back. (For more information on child growth, check out this article!)
There are two main ways to secure a car seat: the LATCH system and the seat belt installation. Both ways provide equal amounts of safety, so choose the way that allows you to secure your car seat the best, and don't use both simultaneously unless the manufacturer says it's ok. Furthermore, the middle of the backseat is generally regarded as the safest, but it's ok to use the window seats if the middle seat does not have safety hookups or is uneven. A few more ways to ensure your child is safe include:
I know it's tempting to re-use an old seat, but they do expire! Check the label for the manufacturing and expiration dates. Use the model number to check for recalls. If your car seat has been recalled or the label is not present, it may not be safe for use. Cracks or missing parts also decrease safety, so be sure to inspect your car seat. Finally, replace car seats after every vehicle crash, and avoid used car seats with no safety history. Your motor vehicle insurance should cover the cost to replace the car seat after a crash.
Here are some quick tips to make sure the straps fit!
Of course, you want your little one to be comfy cozy, but extra padding or inserts cause more problems. Only use padding or inserts that came with the seat or were made by the manufacturer for use with that specific seat. Also, bulky clothing, including winter coats and snowsuits, can compress and leave the straps too loose to restrain your child safely, which can increase the chance of injury in an accident! For safety and warmth, dress your child in thin layers and lay a blanket or coat on top of the buckled harness straps.As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s safety (or anything else!), please reach out to us at any time.