Car Seat Safety
It still amazes me when I see a small child roaming freely about inside a moving vehicle. Not only is it against the law, but it’s also dangerous. Our children’s lives are so precious.
September 28, 2007
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Hey there! You’re listening to the Mighty Mommy with some quick and dirty tips for practical parenting. Today’s Topic: Children and Car Seats
Tips to Help Keep Your Kids Happy and Safe in Their Car Seats
Car seats were not widely used when I was a baby. According to my mom, I was never actually in one. It seems so unbelievable to me that there was actually a time when car seats were not required by law. It still amazes me when I see a small child roaming freely about inside a moving vehicle. Not only is it against the law, but it’s also dangerous. Our children’s lives are so precious. A car seat can save a child’s life and I feel it’s important to know all that you can about these devices so you can use them properly. I’d also like to share some tips to help calm those children who aren’t so happy to ride in their car seat.
You will not be able to leave the hospital with your newborn until the hospital staff confirms that you have a rear-facing car seat correctly installed in your vehicle. Your child’s first car seat will be rear facing and your child will need to remain in this position until she is at least one year old and weighs more than 20 pounds. There are car seats which can support greater weights and you may want to take that into consideration when choosing the car seat. You don’t have to turn a child around as soon as they are one. My daughter was nowhere near 20 pounds by her first birthday. My son was well over 20 pounds before his first birthday and he was no longer fitting into the car seat. We shopped around and found one that could be used both facing rear and front. These seats are great because your child is safer if she’s facing the rear of the vehicle. This allowed us to keep our son facing backward for a little bit longer. In rear-facing seats, the shoulder straps should be in the slot at or below the child's shoulders. Your child should continue facing rear until they reach the car seat weight limit or until the top of the head is no longer below the top of the seat back. There will be a clip on the front of the straps which will cross the child’s chest. Be sure this clip is at armpit level. Never install a rear-facing car seat in front of an air bag. The safest place to install a car seat is in the rear of the vehicle. It is also recommended that you keep your child in a five-point harness system as long as possible. There are car seats with 100-pound weight limits and five-point harness systems available.
When you are installing your car seat, be sure to follow the instructions for that specific seat. Once your car seat is installed, make sure your child’s harness has a snug fit. You should not be able to put more than one finger between the straps and your child’s collarbone. If you are uncertain about the installation, you can call 1-866-SEAT-CHECK. There is also a website, www.seatcheck.org, with more information including links to individual state laws for child passenger safety. Many fire and police stations are also willing to provide a free inspection.