When it comes to travelling in cars with children, nothing is more crucial than a reliable and carefully designed car seat for children. These specialized seats provide a secure and comfortable environment, specifically tailored to protect children, especially in the event of an accident. The car seat can only keep your child safe if it’s well installed. One paediatrician who conducted a test said out of more than 4,000 seat checks, he only found 13 that were properly installed. When installed correctly, car seats are extremely effective at protecting children from injuries in the event of an accident. Here are some key car seat mistakes to avoid to keep your baby safe.
Mistake 1: Poor installation
Car seats seem easy to install, but they are not. The seat being too loose is the number one mistake parents make. When properly installed, you shouldn’t be able to move it back and forth or side to side more than 1 inch. If you can move it further, it’s not tight enough and the child will not be secure in the event of a crash. The car seat harness should also be as snug as possible and not untangled on the child’s chest. There should be no slack.
Another common installation mistake is not angling the seat correctly. An infant’s airway is very narrow, so you need to angle them correctly so that their head doesn’t disproportionately fall forward cutting off their air supply.
Mistake 2: Poor quality car seat
If you buy a new car seat, it will likely still be in tip-top shape. If you instead choose to buy a used car seat, the biggest mistake you can make is to buy it without doing your research. You need to make sure it:
- Has never been in a crash
- Comes with instructions
- Comes with a label that shows the date it was made and the model number
- Isn’t expired or more than six years old
- Hasn’t been called or cited for safety concerns
Mistake 3: Placing the seat in the wrong spot
One common mistake is placing the car seat in the front seat. The best place to put the car seat is the back seat, away from any active airbags. The front seat airbags are designed to protect adults in the event of a crash, those calibrations are dangerous for a child.
Mistake 4: Facing your child the wrong way
All children should remain in rear-facing seats until they’ve reached the maximum height or weight capacity. The recommendation is they should be in rear-facing seats until they are at least two years old. The reason for this is for a child this young, the strongest part of their body is their back and in that position, it can absorb the force of a crack. When the baby is facing forward, their head which is heavy can snap forward in the event of a crash increasing the risk of paralysis or death. One of the reasons parents make this mistake is the desire to see their child’s face.
Mistake 5: Moving to a seat belt too soon
Most children can safely move to a seat belt sometime between ages 8 and 12. Your child is ready to move to a seat belt if they are at least about 1.5 m tall and they can sit with their back to the seat with their knees bent comfortably at the edge of the seat.
Mistake 6: Dressing children in bulky clothes
Dressing children in bulky clothes introduces this space between the child and the car seat so that they are not as snugly held in as they need to be. This extra space can increase the likelihood of being flung out in the event of a crash. It’s best practice to take off the bulky winter coats before strapping children in.
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