As a mom of two under two, I'm always running late. Getting out of the house is a total scramble--it seems as if I'm 10 minutes behind no matter what; packing two children is like going on a mini vacation: I have to prepare bottles, bring food, spare clothes, toys, diapers, creams, blah blah blah. However, no matter how not-on-time I am, I never surrender taking TLC when buckling up my boys.
My babies are my everything. Their lives are in my hands, especially when I get behind the wheel. As parents, we endure the utmost responsibility to keep our children safe, and I would never want to do anything to put my kids' lives in danger.
And so, in lieu of Car Seat Safety Month (September), I gathered some info to serve as a friendly refresher for parents.
I don't want this post to be grim, but I must emphasize--as a former TV traffic anchor who reported on multiple crash-related fatalities, there are troubling statistics when it comes to improper car seat use resulting in child injury...and death. According to SafeKids.org, more than 70% of car seats are not used or installed correctly.
The following information comes from SafeKids.org and the CDC.
Rear vs forward facing car seats:
For the best protection, keep your baby in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible until at least 2 years old. Kids who ride rear-facing have the best protection for the head, neck and spine.
After outgrowing a rear-facing seat, move them to a forward-facing car seat. Keep the seat in the back and make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower anchors. Use the top tether until your child weighs about 40 pounds.
Kids can remain in some forward-facing car seats until they’re 65 pounds depending on the car seat limits. (Check your car seat labels.)
General rule of thumb:
Birth up to Age 2: Rear-facing car seat.
Age 2 up to at least Age 5: Forward-facing car seat.
Age 5 up until seat belts fit properly: Booster seat.
Once Seat Belts Fit Properly without a Booster Seat: Seat Belt
Get to know your car seat:
Check the label on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height.
Your car seat has an expiration date – usually around six years.
Do car seat due diligence. My go-to: Chicco. The KeyFit 30 is rated #1 and there are also convertible options that grow with your child.
Inch Test. Once your car seat is installed, give it a good tug at the base where the seat belt goes through it. A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.
Pinch Test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots. With the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.
For both rear- and forward-facing child safety seats, use either the car’s seat belt or the lower anchors and for forward-facing seats, use the top tether to lock the car seat in place. Don’t use both the lower anchors and seat belt at the same time. They are equally safe- so pick the car seat that gives you the best fit.
Keep in mind:
Toys can injure your child in a crash, so be extra careful to choose ones that are soft and will not hurt your child. Secure loose objects and toys to protect everyone in the car.
Never ever ever ever ever ever leave your child alone in the car. Ever.