April 5, 2018
Did you know that La Bella Birth and Baby has a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician on staff? Our doula, Michaela Fink, has undergone extensive training to provide area families with important safety information about car seats! She has put together a few helpful tips about how to keep your children as safe as possible.
Congratulations! You’re having a baby! With all of the information you need to know, car seat safety should be at the top of your list! Below is a list of tips that are useful with car seat safety.
When a child is rear-facing, they are 5x safer than if they were turned forward-facing! Turning a child in their car seat or advancing to a new car seat should not be looked at as a milestone. All car seat “promotions” are safety “demotions”. With the weight limits of newer car seats, they allow car seats to be rear facing longer. A rear facing car seat is designed to support the head, neck, and back of a child in a frontal crash. Being rear facing allows the child’s head to move with the seat reducing risks of a neck and spine injury. The car seat cradles and moves with the child, it acts as a shell and the car seat absorbs the forces, not the child. An issue that many parents are concerned with is their child’s leg room. It is completely safe and comfortable for children to sit cross-legged. Lower extremity injuries are rare for children who are rear facing. The NHTSA recommends having a child rear facing as long as possible, if the child fits all of the height and weight requirements.
A child should be placed snug in their car seat. The harness should hold the child down, so that in a crash, the child will not be ejected. For rear-facing car seats, harness straps should come from the shell at or below the child’s shoulders unless the manufacture states otherwise. For a forward facing car seat, harness straps should be at or above the child’s shoulders. National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) requires car seat manufactures to state that “A snug strap should NOT allow any slack; it lies in a relatively straight line without sagging.” As parents, you can do the “pinch test”. You should not be able to pinch excess webbing at the shoulder or hips once the harness is buckled.
As the saying goes, children will do what they see. Make sure that everyone in the car is buckled safely. As parents, be models so that your children know that car safety is important, and should always be practiced.
Always remove any bulky coats or clothing. Having extra layers will make the straps too loose. You can always remove the jacket, place the child safely in the car seat, then put their jacket on backwards.
Using a LATCH system or the seatbelt is completely the caregivers option, but never use both. Many people think that it would be best to use both the LATCH and the seatbelt, but only one is needed. When car seats are crash-tested, they are only tested with one or the other, so never use both.
Always make sure that you call the car seat manufacture, and read the car seat manual for what to do if the car seat was involved in a crash.
The center is the best place for small children. Being in the center is the safest because it can’t take a direct impact. Always remember when installing a car seat, that not all seats are suitable for a car seat. The car seat manufacture and the car manufacture may not allow car seats in particular seats, always read the manuals.
When installing a car seat, make sure that it is at the correct recline angle. Also for a correct installation, make sure that when you thread the seatbelt through the belt path that there are no twists in the belt. You should also press down firmly on the car seat to tighten the straps. The base or the car seat should not move more than 1 inch up or down, or to each side when it is installed.
Only use what is provided and approved by the car seat manufacturer. Adding extra strap covers, paddings, head supports, mirrors, toys, etc. are not safe or approved. Mirrors and toys can become projectiles if a crash were to happen. Anything that is added as extra wasn’t crash tested, so they aren’t safe. They can effect the tightness of the harness, the placement of the chest clip, or the placement of the child.
Find a trained Car Seat Passenger Safety Technician in your area! Car seats are very challenging to understand and put in, ask for help! If you are local to Central North Carolina, we would be more than happy to help however we can. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
*All information was used from National Child Passenger Safety Technician Guide.