I’m about to break the cardinal rule of parenting — don’t comment on other people’s parenting. I believe everyone wants the best for their child, and we all have different ways of going about it. But one thing we should all come together on is child safety. Keeping our babies safe should be a team sport.
Like any first time mom, I did as much research as I could when purchasing products for my child. Safety has always been my number one goal. One thing I am continuously educating myself on is car seat safety. According to the CDC, child restraint systems are often used incorrectly. An estimated 46% of car seats and booster seats (59% of car seats and 20% of booster seats) are misused in a way that could reduce their effectiveness.
Once I started following Safe in the Seat, my eyes were opened to car seat rules I didn’t know about. Now, almost every day I witness car seat misuse. I believe most people just don’t have the right information. But when we know better we do better.
The information provided in this article will not be exhaustive and I am NOT a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST). Always refer to your own car seat guidelines. Keep in mind that guidelines and recommendations can and will change so it is important to pay attention to car seat safety guidelines while you have a child in a car seat. There are some general rules that ring true in almost every situation, which is a good place to start.
Read the Manual
Before installing a car seat, read the manual cover to cover. Every car seat is different and only the manual can give you the specifics for your individual car seat.
Rear Facing is the Safest
Always max out either height or weight (whichever comes first) with your car seat before turning turning the car seat front facing. If you have started forward facing before the height or weight maximums have been reached, it is never too late to turn them back rear facing.
Check the Seat Often
Check the fit and feel of your child’s car seat often — more often than you think. Babies are constantly growing and the best way to ensure they are still safe in their car seat is to make sure it’s properly installed.
Stretch During Long Trips
For long road trips, you should get your child out of the car every two hours, whether it is day or night. This is true for adults as well but it is especially important for children.
Consult an Expert
When in doubt, consult an expert. There are local resources and trained CPST in our community and they want to help. You can find one by going to cert.safekids.org.
My hope is that through education we can prevent unnecessary injury or death with children. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in children, and while we can’t prevent them all, we can significantly reduce them with proper car seat safety.