Taking your baby with you on the road can be risky, because the roads can be a dangerous place. Fortunately, car seats are proven to provide support and protection to your child in the event of an accident.
It is not unusual for hospitals to refuse to let a baby leave until the parents can prove they have a car seat and can properly use it. Car seats can be expensive, so if you cannot afford one, you may want to ask the hospital if they have any extras. It is not unusual for hospitals to get car seat donations.
Once you have a car seat, what do you need to know? Take a look at a few car seat safety tips below.
The Type of Car Seat and Location
First, you need to make sure you use the right type of car seat for your baby. Some of the tips to keep in mind include:
- You should put your baby in a rear-facing car seat until he or she is no longer able to use that car seat. Typically, rear-facing car seats have a weight limit. If your baby exceeds the weight limit, it is time to switch to a forward-facing car seat.
- Once your baby is too big for a rear-facing car seat, it is time to switch to a forward-facing car seat. Again, a forward-facing car seat should have a weight limit on it. Your baby should sit in a forward-facing car seat until he or she exceeds the weight limit. Then, your child should move to a booster seat.
- Your child should sit in a booster seat until the seat belt can cross his or her shoulder instead of his or her neck. There should be a weight or height limit on the booster seat. Make sure you follow this.
With the right type of seat for your child, you need to make sure you put it in the proper location. The best spot for a car seat is furthest away from any potential point of impact. In most vehicles, this is the middle of the back row of seats. That way, no matter what direction your car is hit from, your baby will be far from the point of impact.
Of note, even when your child is old enough or tall enough to move out of a booster seat, your child should still sit in the back seat of the car.
Installing a Car Seat in the Car
Once you have the right car seat, you need to install it safely in the car. Importantly, you should always pay close attention to the manual. Different car seats might have slightly different steps, and you need to make sure your car seat is safely installed.
In general, the steps you need to follow include:
- Most car seats have a base you install first. Make sure you put the base in the middle of the back seat.
- Thread the seat belt through the base carefully. Make sure the seat belt does not get twisted along the way.
- Buckle the seat belt on the other side of the base. Make sure the base cannot be pulled out of the seat easily.
- Before you attempt the car seat, make sure you press the base into the seat firmly. This will give you some extra strength.
- You should also pull the seat belt tight to further restrain the base. Ideally, the base should not be able to move more than an inch.
- Then, attach the infant carrier to the base. You should hear an audible click when it is put in place.
You should practice doing this several times before you take your baby home from the hospital. If you need help installing your car seat properly, you should ask your pediatrician or a nurse to help you. That way, you can feel confident about installing the car seat yourself when you get home.
Tips for Safe Car Seat Use
You need to make sure you get the most out of your car seat. Some of the tips you should follow include:
- Make sure your baby's hips and back are against the seat.
- Your baby should sit semi-reclined to keep his or her airway open.
- The shoulder straps need to be tight against the chest of your baby. You should not be able to slip more than two fingers under the webbing too easily.
- Make sure the shoulder straps are not twisted when you buckle your child.
- The harness clip should sit at the level of your child’s armpits in the middle of his or her chest.
If you follow these tips, you should be able to keep your child safe in the car.
Avoiding Common Mistakes With Car Seats
Remember that your car seat is supposed to protect your child's life, however, even a tool for good can become harmful if not properly used. Some of the most common mistakes parents make with car seats include:
- The base is too loose. After you install the base, do not forget to pull the seat belt tight. If the seat belt is too loose, the base will be free to move, and the car seat could fall.
- The harness straps are too loose. After you buckle your child, try to pinch the Trap together. You should not be able to pinch the left and right shoulder straps together. If they can touch each other, the straps are too loose. You do not want your child to slide out of the harness.
- Do not put any blankets, jackets, or pillows in between your child and the straps. Even though you may think you are keeping your child warm, you are creating unnecessary slack on the harness straps. They won't be able to keep your child safe.
- Do not use a car seat past its expiration date. Car seats last a long time. If your car seat is expired, it's time to get a new one.
Make sure you avoid these mistakes when using a car seat.
Contact Seminole Chiropractic Center With Any Questions or Concerns
If you have questions about using a car seat, we are here to help you. We are Seminole Chiropractic Center, and we always put the needs of our patients first. It would be our pleasure to help you take care of your child as well. We have a tremendous amount of experience, and we can use it to assist you. Contact us today to make an appointment!
- Auto Injury Experience