As of late some events have happened that have truly made me look at how safe my kids really are in the car with me. With the loss of my brother due to a car accident in February, we all started to pay more attention to seat belts and car seats.
What I realized was that my kids were mostly in their car seats correctly, but a few small mistakes could have easily cost them their lives and would have ruined me had an accident happened. I think when we as parents start making those major safety item purchases, we look at the highest safety rating and make sure that we install the seat correctly, but most of us probably do not take the time to read the actual manual to the car seat.
We have purchased about 6 car seats and I have NEVER read a manual for any of them. I took an infant safety class where we learned how to save our child from choking, install our car seats and keep our guns safe. Not once were we taught how to actually put a baby in a car seat.
There is actually a technique people and YES you would easily get this information from reading your manual. But alas, you are probably like me and reading those things seems tedious and boring. So here is what I have learned about car seat safety and proper installation of both the seat and the baby.
1. Your nurses WILL NOT check to see if the baby is in the car seat correctly before leaving the hospital (unless of course you have a NICU baby, then only sometimes do they check). You need to be educated, every single person I have asked about this has said that their nurse didn’t even check.
2. Nothing should be placed over the original carseat or between the baby and the straps (unless it specifically comes with the seat). i.e.:
- No covers of any kinds (the car seat covers, the bundle me covers, homemade ones…ALL BAD)
- No bulky coats or jackets (this is one rule I actually knew, so I do not have a great photo, but imagine a huge coat or this blanket under the straps)
- If it did not come with the seat it doesn’t belong between baby and straps (those adorable owl shoulder strap covers are a no)
- The basics being that anything that allows for a small space between baby and straps can allow baby to slip out.
- Straps: should pass the pinch test (if you can pinch them at the shoulders, they are not tight enough. Lap straps should be tight across the thighs and NOT twisted. Shoulder straps should be AT or BELOW the shoulders if child is rear facing and AT or JUST ABOVE if forward facing.
- Chest clip: should be at the chest!!! Literally armpit level. If it is lower, then the straps are too far apart and in the event of an accident the baby can slip right out.
4. Forward-Facing VS. Rear-Facing
This is heavily debated and advice is ignored all the time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing until 2 years old. If you want to know why, just head to Youtube and search car seat accidents forward facing.
There is SO much more I could cover, but honestly if you are anything like me you want the cliffs notes version. I found a good one at Healthy Children and it is worth the bookmark and read!