In honor of National Car Seat Safety Week here are the 10 most common misconceptions caregivers have with car seats. Please find a clinic to have your car seat(s) checked to make sure they and your child are properly secured. Check out our Certified Car Seat Installation service, we can meet you anywhere within our service area. It REALLY can make the difference between life and death!
1. What do you think the most common question parents ask about car seats?
“What is the best car seat?” We would assume the most expensive one or the one with the most bells and whistles would be best. In actuality, the best car seat is the one that fits your child, fits your vehicle, and you can install it correctly every time. Is isn’t necessarily the most expensive.
2. Where do you think car seat straps should be?
I have four kids. When I went through the car seat certifying class, this was one thing I had never heard before. Do you think they should be below, at, or above the shoulders? It actually depends on what kind of car seat. For rear facing, the straps should be at or below the shoulders. For forward facing, the straps should be at or above the shoulders.
3. Do you uses the LATCH system (I’m not talking about a breastfeeding latch)?
(If you have no idea what it is, it stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. Go here for a further explanation)Two of the most commonmistakes are about the LATCH system and how it works. Do you think it is safer to use both the seat belt and LATCH system together? Do you think you should only use one? You would think, at least I did, using the LATCH system and the seat belt together, should double protect the child, right? Nope, using both together actually compromises the other. You should only use one belting system. The next logical question is…….
4. “Which one is the best?”
Whichever one can be properly used each time you put the car seat in the vehicle. This goes along with using the LATCH on the outboard seat positions. The safest place for a car seat is the center position. Some vehicles only have LATCH on outboard positions. If this is true, a properly used seat belt is safer in the center than LATCH on the outboard. Some cars only have LATCH in the center position so if you have more than on child, using a seat belt is more realistic. Because of the various models of cars, it’s best to check the car manual for the most accurate information on how LATCH works for your car. Just remember, you can’t share the hooks. Only one clip per hook.
5. The one message I want to shout from the mountain tops. I tell EVERYONE who has a baby. Keep your baby rear facing as long as possible. If you choose an infant seat as your first car seat, purchase a convertible one next. It can handle more weight rear facing and then you can turn it forward facing once the child has reached the maximum rear facing weight. My 16 month old is still rear facing in a convertible seat. Usually people look at me like I have grown another head and I hear the “Yea, but the law says 20lbs and 1 year old”. It is almost like a rite of passage for the family to forward face the baby. I tell them, if you saw the crash test difference between the same size child rear facing versus forward facing, you will keep your child rear facing until their legs are crossing. Children have died from being forward facing when they could/should have been rear facing. The state law is the minimum, but not necessarily the safest. That rear facing baby is the safest person in the car.
6. How do you know when the straps are tight enough?
My personal philosophy, when they are buckled in and tightened, give it one last tug. My husband always tells me how uncomfortable our child must be. My response, “they aren’t crying so it must not be painful.” Do you want to know the test to tell if the straps need another tug? Try to pinch some slack up at the shoulders. If you can pinch any slack, tighten it up. You shouldn’t be able to pinch any slack.
7. Where do you think the retainer clip should be?
At the nipples or at the arm pits? Correct answer, at the arm pits. You want the child snug. If there was a crash, you don’t want the child slipping out the top and flying out the top.
8. For older children wearing seat belts with or without a booster, the proper placement is crucial. It is important that the belt hits the 2 strongest parts of the body. The shoulder strap should hit the shoulder. The lap portion should be over the hip bones. This is also true of an adult. Make sure to adjust the belt every time you put it on and remind older children each time you get in the car to correctly adjust their belt too. If the belt is close to the neck, the child needs to be higher in the seat. If the child is legally ready to go without a booster and the belt is too close, they aren’t safely ready to retire the booster seat just yet. For a pregnant mama, make sure the belt is at the shoulder and the lap belt is under the belly across the hips. We do not want the lap belt across the belly because in the case of a crash, the unborn baby can be severely injured or killed. Seat belt safety for kids starts when they are still growing inside mommy.
9. One of the biggest misconceptions is how tight the car seat needs to be buckled in. Did you know it can move up to 1 inch? Most people grab it at the top to test it. It actually needs to be tested at the belt path. Give it a little shake.
10. We must be very conscious of what we have in the car as well as what is around the baby. We want the baby as close to touching the back of the car seat as possible. If it’s cold, buckle in the baby then put the blanket over them. Many times our newborns are too small for even an infant seat. It is ok to roll up receiving blankets and place them around the child and in between their legs (create an upside down U shape where the sides of the blanket are on each side of the buckle). Also, with some cars, getting the right angle of the seat can be a little tricky. Having the perfect angle is incredibly important with a newborn. They don’t have the head control yet and depend on the seat to give them that. If the baby is tipped to far forward, it can cut off their airway. This is why we aren’t supposed to keep them in their seats to sleep or for a long period of time. To get that perfect angle, we use pool noodles. You can cut them to the perfect length for your car and place them in the crease or byte of the car. Keep in mind every loose object in your vehicle can become a projectile during a crash. I will spare you the math of figuring out how fast something can travel. Look in your car, pick up a loose object, and imagine someone throwing that at your head as hard as they can. Many people are killed in crashes by projectiles rather than from the actual crash.
Let me know if you have any questions. I’d be more than happy to answer them!
Tags: car seat
• child restraint
• rear facing