Being a parent can feel like you’re hopscotching from one worry to the next. Everywhere you look, you see all the ways your child could be hurt. How do you ever feel secure?
The more measures you take to keep your child safe, the more peace of mind you have. Those safety measures may never be more important than they are on the road.
Learn about the safest place for a car seat and more with these car seat safety tips.
1. Dress for the Occasion
When the weather is cold, your instinct is to bundle up your child so they stay warm. By doing so, you could be putting your child at risk in their car seat.
If you’re in a car accident, your child’s bulky clothes will compress with the force of the impact. Suddenly the car seat straps are too loose and the force can easily push your child out of the car seat.
The rule of thumb is that if you can lay a clothing item or coat flat and it gets flatter when you press on it, your child shouldn’t wear it in the car seat.
Instead of bulky coats, dress your child in thin layers when it’s cold outside. Strap them into the car seat and use a blanket or coat on top of the seat to keep them warm.
2. Know the Laws
When it comes to car seats, every state has its own laws. Your state will require you to keep your child in a car seat until they reach a certain age or size.
While it’s important to know those laws, remember that they aren’t safety guidelines. They are bare minimums.
For instance, it’s best to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible before they outgrow the seat.
3. Consider Ease of Use
Many parents do extensive research before they choose a car seat. They look at reviews, safety features, and more. Don’t forget to pay attention to how easy a car seat is to install.
It seems like a small consideration, but the fact is that if the seat is too difficult to install, you probably won’t install it correctly. In fact, 59% of car seats are installed incorrectly.
A car seat that isn’t properly installed will put your child at risk. That is why this car seat review focuses so much on how easy it is to install their car seat of choice.
4. Don’t Trust Grocery Carts
If you use a car seat that doubles as a carrier, you may be taking your child’s safety for granted in some situations.
Many parents attach these types of car seats to the top of their shopping carts when they go grocery shopping. Some car seats even seem to click into place, making them seem safe.
In reality, car seats aren’t designed for shopping carts. They won’t secure to the top of the car properly and may fall off.
Shopping carts also are unstable. Putting a car seat on the top will make the cart top-heavy so the entire cart could fall over.
It’s better to place the car seat in the storage area of the cart. Better yet, go shopping with a partner so one of you can push the cart and the other can push the stroller.
5. Be on the Lookout for Recalls
Safety organizations are always searching for ways to make products safer, especially when it comes to kids and babies. This is why recalls are so common with car seats and other baby products.
You always want to search for recalls before you buy a car seat, especially if you’re buying it second-hand. You also need to keep an eye out for recalls that may arise after you buy the seat.
You can do this without thinking about it by setting up a Google alert for the model of your car seat. If anyone publishes a news article about your car seat, you’ll receive a Google alert email so you can read the article.
You can do this with your crib, high chair, and other baby products too. This is an easy way to hear about recalls right away without scouring the web day after day.
6. Be Strappy
Parents often take it for granted that they know how to strap their child into their car seat. In truth, all too often parents use straps incorrectly and don’t realize they’re putting their kids at risk.
First, make sure that the clip in the center of the harness is on your child’s chest, not their belly.
Second, the straps need to be snug. You should only be able to fit one or two fingers beneath the strap while your child is buckled in.
7. Check the Expiration Date
Few parents realize that car seats have expiration dates, so they don’t check them.
It makes sense when you think about how car seats change over time. The plastics and other materials will break down little by little, especially when they’re in a hot car day in and day out. That decay makes the seat less secure.
Most manufacturers print the expiration date on the back of the seat, so keep tabs on yours. This is especially important if you buy your car seat second-hand or if you’ve used it for multiple children.
Make Your Car the Safest Place for a Car Seat
As a parent, your child’s health and safety is the most important thing in your world. Unfortunately, if you believe like most parents that a car seat will handle your child’s safety on its own, your child may be at risk.
By following the safety tips above, you can make your vehicle the safest place for a car seat. All the effort is worth it at that moment when a car accident happens and your child gets through without a scratch.
For more helpful tips, check out our parenting posts, product reviews, and more.