There are plenty of exciting things about having a baby – think endless snuggles, impossibly tiny outfits and leisurely stroller walks. But car seats? Those don’t typically make the “most exciting” cut.
But, of course, car seats are an inevitability of parenthood. You’re spending tons of time in your car with your child in town – and, like it or not, accidents happen. If your child is properly secured in his car seat, they’re much less likely to be injured or even killed in a crash – according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, kids two and under are 75% more likely to survive a crash if they’re secured properly. And, yes, it has to be a car seat — standard seat belts aren’t just ineffective for babies and toddlers and, in an accident, can actually cause a lot of harm.
Make Sure Your Car Seat Is Ready To Its Job
That said, car seats can only be effective if they’re installed and used correctly. Sounds simple enough, sure, but millions of parents aren’t checking all of the boxes when it comes to their kids’ car seats. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports nearly three in five car seats and one in five booster seats aren’t properly installed/used. Yikes, right?
Avoid five common mistakes and missteps every time you hop in the car:
- Not tightening the harness straps enough: There should be no slack in a car seat’s strap fabric – if you can lift and pinch the fabric with your fingers, there is too much slack and it needs to be tightened.
Once you’ve double-checked yours, be sure you’re also taking a look at the top tether – about half of car seats don’t have a properly-installed tether, putting a child at risk in an accident.
- Placing harness clips in the wrong position: Many parents put clips too high or too low on a child’s chest, which can cause straps to slide off. To be most effective, clips should rest across the chest at armpit level.
- Not anchoring the car seat properly: You shouldn’t be able to move the seat to the left, right or forward more than an inch. If it moves more than that, it’s not anchored tightly enough — be sure to adjust immediately. Without the right anchoring, your child — and his car seat — could be tossed forward in a collision.
- Using the wrong type of car seat for your child’s height and weight: Be sure to check the manufacturer’s specifications before purchasing a seat. Your child should be well within the height and weight parameters of the seat you purchase. When they exceed these limits, it’s time for a new car seat.
- Not leaving the car seat to rear-facing long enough: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids under two or kids who haven’t hit the height/weight limit (usually around 35 pounds — height limits vary by brand) should stay in a rear-facing position. When forward-facings, kids are more likely to get whiplash, spinal injuries or even die during an crash. While, yes, an older or taller child may have to bend his legs slightly — into a “frog position” — he’s better protected than he would be facing forward.
Using Blankets and Coats with Car Seats
Properly securing your child’s car seat – and your child into that car seat — may be tricky in the summer, but the process becomes even more challenging in winter. How do you keep kids warm when puffy coats are a no-no? Blankets are OK, but can interfere when they’re tucked underneath the straps.
The alternative? Buckle Me Baby Coats, which provide the warmth of a winter coat without the added bulk that makes your child susceptible to car seat-related injuries. Buckle Me is thin, ensuring harnesses and straps fit tightly and keep kids secure, while a side zip closes over the harness, keeping it snug and in place. It’s simple, it’s seamless and it keeps your child warm and safe in the car. Check out all colors and sizes HERE — we’re shipping in September, and supplies are already limited, so be sure to get your orders in now.