One right of passage for new parents that can often make them lose sleep is buying a new car seat. I remember the stress and anxiety that would build up trying to find just the perfect convertible seat that gave the ultimate safety for our child. It also had to be comfortable and easy to use. This is something that we were going to use for many years to come so we had to get it right. We are both careful drivers but this experience has probably made us overly cautious. A child restraint seat is one of the first big purchases you will make so it is good to know what to avoid.
One thing that we didn’t foresee as we were combing through countless reviews of the best convertible car seats was how this was just the first step to ensuring their safety. Once we picked a seat we were happy with we then had to learn how to use it correctly. Making sure that our child fit just right and that the seat was securely fastened to our vehicle required a little bit of a learning curve. Over time it became routine, but this is something that every parent should be prepared for when shopping for a new safety seat.
Getting Expert Help
Reading the car seat manual and adhering to its recommendations is vital. However experts advise parents to also read what the car maker says about car seat installation. One should make a point of following the two sets of guidelines. The same applies when moving the seat to another family car, since every car is different. It is therefore critical to make installation adjustments when a switch is made to ensure safety is maintained. Getting an expert second opinion from a certified technician is also a smart idea. Local firehouses and police stations routinely have car seat inspection events throughout the year which can help you get a better grasp on how to install the convertible seat correctly.
Making Sure All Straps Are Snug
If the car seat has no harness, kids need to wear seat belts fitted properly for protection. If the child is using a seat belt, with or without a booster seat, the belt lap section must rest low on the hips, not across the stomach or legs. The upper section should be across the chest, resting upon the body shoulder rather than on the neck. It should also not be put under the armpit. All children weighing between 40 and 80 pounds and are over 4 feet and nine inches tall require a booster seat to ensure the car seat belt fits properly. Also, it is advised that children below 13 years should not sit in the front seat.
Keep Rear-Facing As Long As Possible
Turning the child in order to see their faces using the rear-view mirror may seem convenient to the driving parent-but there are safety reasons to delay this.Experts recommend that kids should face the rear until they are two years old. This is due to the anatomical growth of the child. The vertebrae of children only fuse together only when they are aged between 4 and 6 years old. Therefore the impact of a frontal crash can severely damage the spine of a young child. In addition, if the child sits near the seat in front, they can hit it hard enough to cause serious damage to their legs, feet or even their brain. Facing the rear is a lot safer during all kinds of collisions. Most car seat manuals provide appropriate guidance on this. Some car seats can securely hold a larger toddler facing the rear.
Securely Fasten Everything
While it is inconvenient to keep loosening and tightening straps when kids get in and out of vehicles, the hassle is worth the effort to avoid them flying out in case of a crash. To ensure a proper and tight fit, the parent can do the pinch test. This is where after tightening the harness snugly, the parent can use his or her index finger and thumb to lightly grab the harness at the child’s collar bone, without digging too deep. Also ensure the harness chest clip is not too tight since this may lead to discomfort and red marks on the child’s skin.The chest clip should be slid up so it becomes level with the armpits.
Making Adjustments Over Time
Generally, safety seats are designed to fit a range of different ages. Therefore as the child grows, adjustments need to be made. An example is adjusting the shoulder straps for the forward facing kid. Parents should ensure that shoulder straps begin on the child’s shoulder, not below. Seats come with several different strap slots hence parents should ensure they adjust them upwards to match the child’s growth. Once the child’s shoulder is over the highest slot a new seat must be installed.
Getting The Right Seat
Whereas car seats come with age guidelines, the weight and height of a child is more important when choosing which one to install. There is a car seat finder tool on the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) website that can help a parent calculate the best seat for a child’s size.
Getting a Used Seat
Using old seats may be cost-efficient but may lead to safety concerns. Before installing a used car seat, one should ponder over several issues. This includes asking whether the car had been involved in a crash or if it is on a recall list. Older seats may be compromised since they may have been damaged in a car crash. The seat must not be over five years old since plastic weakens with age.
You obviously know how big of a deal getting a quality seat is, but knowing how to use it is just as important. Reducing the risk of injury by making the seat is used correctly will help put your mind at a little more ease and let you focus on getting to your destination without distraction. With a little practice and study, you will be an expert in no time.