Car Seat Safety 101

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Convertible car seat reviews

Whether you are a first time parent or you have been at it for a while now, it is important to go through the essentials of car seat safety once in a while. As a parent, your child’s safety is absolutely essential. Going through these safety rules might be just what saves their life.

The height of the straps

If you are using a 5 point harness then the strap should be placed at or below the baby’s shoulders for rear facing car seats and for forward facing car seats, the harness straps should be positioned at or above the baby’s shoulders.

Is the chest clip placed correctly?

The purpose of the chest clip is to keep the straps in place over the upper body before a crash occurs. It is vital for it to be placed on a baby’s sternum or the armpit level.

Is the tightness of the straps enough?

You determine this by doing the pinch test where you pinch the straps vertically at the collar bone. If you are able to grab extra slack between your fingers and be in a position to pinch it then the straps are considered too loose.

Is the seat fitted-in tightly?

When installing a car seat ensure that there is less than 1” movement front to back as well as side to side when holding onto the belt path. In other words, ensure that the lower anchor connector or the seat belt goes through the car seat. It is important to note that this is the only location where you are required to test for movement and not the top of the car seat.

Is the tether attached?

A tether is necessary when one is fitting a forward facing harnessed car seat. This is because the tether minimizes forward movement for the baby’s head as well as the neck up to 6” in case a crash occurs.

Which is the right seat for your child’s age?

Your child should ride rear facing up until they are at least two years old while a child who is 3-4 years should use a forward facing seat with a 5 point harness until they are 5+ years. For 10 to 12 years a child should use a booster seat.

Checking the expiration date.

car seat expiry date
expiration date imprinted in plastic

car seat expiry date

The standard expiration period for most car seats is from four to twelve years from the date of manufacturing. Although the time frame differs for all manufacturers, it is important to note that plastic breaks down over time and a car seat that is already expired is unlikely to protect a child if a car crash occurs.

Ensure you remove coats before buckling

If a child is wearing a bulky coat this puts extra space between them and the harness which means in the event of a crash, it will greatly compress and therefore creating more distance for the child to move before stopping. Instead, parents can drape a blanket over the seat or wear the coat backwards over the harness.

Have you been involved in a crash?

It does not matter if the crash was minor or not or even if the children were involved or not, chances are that the car seat might need replacing. To confirm this, you should ensure that you double check the seat’s manual to familiarize yourself with information on how to replace it or about accidents.

Ensure you read the manual.

It is very important for every parent to read the manual that comes with a car seat. It provides all the seats instructions regarding your child’s safety and we can all agree nothing is more important than that. In case of a misplacement, you can always contact the seat manufacturer for a replacement copy.

There are other crucial things to note when it comes to as well as correctly installing the car seat and ensuring you harness safely. Therefore, make sure you read the car seat and vehicle manual thoroughly before using them.

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