Car seat safety is one of the most important things to be aware of when you are expecting little ones in your family. Did you know that 4 out of 5 car seats aren’t installed or used properly? Understanding some of the key tips to be car seat ready can keep your family safer according to Saarah Samadani CEO New Bloom Media & Child Passenger Safety Technician. Read on for her tips!
1. Read the manual
Once you receive your car seat, reading the manual is super important. The manual helps to give insight on how the car seat is to be used and installed. It’s the key resource that provides information on seat height/weight limits as well as pointers on how to install and use the seat correctly.
2. Register your car seat
Occasionally, the manufacturer would like to send you information on your particular seat. On a rare occasion of a recall, registering your car seat will provide the manufacturer relevant contact information for you to notify you on any recall that may be affecting your car seat.
3. Keep your little one rear facing as long as possible…
…as long as they are within the weight limits of the seat. There is no rush to turn your little ones forward facing. While it is legal to turn your little one around at the age of one (two in some states), don’t feel rushed or obligated to do so. The bones in the neck of small children are not developed enough to protect the spinal cord and the force of impact in a crash for a forward-facing child may cause severe internal damage. Rear facing allows for minimal impact on the spine of your little one, should they be in the vehicle during an accident. As long as they are within the height and weight limits of the seat, keep them rear facing as long as possible.
4. Keep your little one in a 5-point harness as long as possible
The entire purpose of a 5-point harness is to keep your little one as secure as possible in the event of a motor vehicle accident. This snug fit ensures that your little one is secure in their seat, AND that your little one is in the most efficient position for the car seat to take on the bulk of the crash forces. Parents often transition littles out of their 5-point harnesses well too soon.
5. Check the weight limits of your seat
Car seats are created and tested with certain weight limits for each model seat they manufacture. They test the weight capacity for forward-facing and rear-facing, and after much testing on a test track, manufacturers determine what weight and height limits the seat has to keep your little one safe. It’s very important you pay attention to the height and weight limitations for your car seat to keep your little one safe. These limits can be found in your manual or printed on the side of your car seat.
6. When forward facing always use the top tether
The top tether was created for use when the car seat is in forward facing mode. They are extremely important to use as they aid in limiting the forward rotation of the car seat in a crash. The top tether fastens to the top tether anchors in your car.
7. Pick the seat that's the best fit not necessarily the one that you think looks the best
Every child has a different body type. The seat that might work best for one child, may not work best for another. It’s important to select the seat you will be using based on the child’s height and weight measurements, rather than on what someone else has. Each seat on the market has been tested to high safety standards. As a tip, take a look at your little one’s measurements and search for a seat that would allow for extended rear-facing and/or a seat that has a higher harnessed capacity.