Car seat safety

As much as you’d love to crawl around the house all day with Baby, you’re going to need to drive around once in a while with him in tow! Car seats are very important to make sure he is secure in the event of a collision. If your budget is tight, car seats are not something to be frugal with–Baby’s safety is top priority!

Different types of car seats

Shop around for car seats while you’re pregnant–you’ll need one for the drive home from the hospital! State law requires children use car seats until they are beyond a certain age, weight, or height (usually 7 years old or 60 lbs).

It’s important to check the weight and height limits for each individual seat, but in general, infant car seats face the rear of the car and can be used until your baby is up to 35 lbs.

Convertible seats can face the rear or front of the car once your child is 70 lbs. Booster seats are for older children and utilize the car’s lap and shoulder belts.

Installing car seats

Securing a car seat means it cannot move more than an inch in any direction from where it is installed. Modern car seats are attached to anchors and tethers in the car rather than looped with the seatbelt.

Your best resource for instructions is the manual that comes with the car seat, but you can also attend installation workshops for additional assistance.

Once the car seat is fastened to the car properly, make sure your baby is comfortable–pad the area with cushions or blankets if there is extra room. Always make sure the car seat belts are secure, and taut so that you can’t pinch the fabric with two fingers. Keep the harness clip at armpit level so that the shoulder belts are secure.

Firefighters are actually a great resource if you’re having trouble installing your car seat, as it’s a part of their job to do so! Just go to your local firehouse and ask a friendly fireman.

Why are rear-facing car seats safer?

In the event of a collision, rear-facing car seats distribute the force of impact throughout the head, neck, and back, whereas front-facing seats pose a greater risk for spinal cord injury.

Experts recommend children stay in a rear-facing seat as long as possible, even if their legs are slightly bent. A rear-facing car seat prevents severe snapping of the head relative to the body in the case of a frontal collision, which is more frequent and severe than rear end collisions.


Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
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Sources
  • “How to Find the Right Car Seat.” Safercar.gov. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, n.d. Web.
  • “Car seat safety: Avoid 10 common mistakes.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 8/16/2014. Web.

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