Discovering you’re going to have a baby is one of the most exciting things ever experienced. It may seem like the day will never arrive, but the time passes very quickly in getting the nursery ready, picking out names, getting clothing, finding the right stroller, and beginning to plan what hopes and dreams you have for your son or daughter.
It can be a little terrifying too because everything is going to change! The responsibility of raising a child can be a little overwhelming. And then there’s the underlying thoughts of how do you really raise your child; will you know what to do when something happens, and how do you keep them safe?
One of the leading causes of death among young children is motor vehicle accidents. What’s more alarming is over 90% of all parents usually install the car seat incorrectly, and yet, car seats reduce the risk of infant death by 71%. This is why, I believe it’s so important to share an article I saw on the internet last week by Laura Tedesco, a freelance writer and contributor to Yahoo. In her article which was posted on Yahoo last week, Tedesco outlined 6 things parents are doing wrong when installing their car seats.
Harness Too Loose: This was the number one mistake, and it occurred 69% of the time. The harness that straps the baby or young child in is too loose. The harness should be snug to the child’s chest with no gaps between them and the harness, although it shouldn’t push in on or depress the chest. Pinch the webbing to see if there’s any slack. If so, the harness needs to be tightened.
Retainer Clip Too Low: The retainer clip is the clip that keeps the shoulder straps together. It should fit across the baby’s chest at the level of the armpits. If the clip is too low, the straps can slip over the baby’s shoulders which can allow the baby to be ejected from a rear facing car seat and hit the windshield in a frontal impact.
After Market Products: Who doesn’t want to bling a car seat with little toys and mirrors to entertain a baby?! Similarly, many parents will use a cushion to help elevate the baby because it appears they are sitting too low. The issue with the mirrors and toys attached to the car seat is they become projectile in a crash and could strike your infant. The issue with the cushions is the car seat has not been crash tested with them and could hamper the seat from operating properly.
Seat’s Too Loose: Put 6 to 9 pounds of weight in the car seat, grasp it firmly and tug it from side to side, as well as toward the front. The seat should not move more than one inch in either direction. If it does, it is too loose and should be tightened down or replaced altogether.
Incorrect Seat Angle: A rear facing car seat should be leaning back between 30 and 45 degrees. A newborn’s head will fall forward if the seat is too upright. To get an idea of what the proper angle is, put the car seat on a flat surface such as a table. Since most rear seats aren’t flat, you may need to change the angle adjuster on the car seat or place a rolled up towel in the seat crack to achieve the proper angle.
Seat Belt Tension: Cars built in 2002 and later were designed to be compatible with the LATCH system, or Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. This system allows a car seat to be secured without having to use the car’s seat belts. If you’re driving an older car that’s not LATCH compliant, be sure to lock the rear seat belts once the car seat is installed. Consult your car’s owner’s manual to see how to do this.
In addition, I’d like to add five suggestions:
- If you’re buying a used car seat, find out if there’s been a recall on the model you’re interested in. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides a list of recalled car seats (see http://184.108.40.206/~wiseinsu/car-seats-registration-recalls-post-accident-use/).
- Check the expiration date located on the bottom of each car seat before buying a used one or accepting one as a gift from a friend.
- Before buying it, try it out in your car or cars. Every car is slightly different so make sure it “fits” your vehicles properly and easily.
- Once it’s purchased, install the car seat in your car before your baby arrives and then confirm it’s installed properly by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. To find the nearest technician, call (866) Seat-Check or click on http://cert.safekids.org/.
- Replace the seat if you’re involved in even a moderate accident.
Children are a precious gift and should be protected. Proper car seat installation is an easy way to protect them. Share your thoughts, questions, and comments with us on our Facebook and Google+ pages! I’d love to hear from you!