Did you know that most parents aren’t using their car seats properly? Sure, when we go home from the hospital with our newborn babies, the doctors and nurses will check our car seats and ensure that we have installed it properly and we know how to clip our babies into the seats. However, as your baby grows, you need to adjust and change your car seat as necessary. That is where the mistakes come into play.
5. You Aren’t Keeping The Straps Snug Enough
Many children are riding around in cars for a longer period of time than ever before, so parents are particularly conscious of their comfort. This is why many car accident injuries occur because the straps on the seat were too loose. Not only does this allow for more movement in all directions, but the straps themselves can also actually cause problems and can cut into the skin if they too loose and allow for movement.
If the straps seem too tight, it is better to take bulky clothing off of the baby and remove any blankets, which shouldn’t be there anyway. This is a problem in winter, in particular, when babies are wearing heavy coats. It is best to warm the car up before getting baby inside instead of just leaving the coat on him or her. You can also get specially designed covers that go over the car seat to keep the baby warm.
4. You Aren’t Aware Of The Chemicals
While many people think of a child’s car seat as a life-saving device, they can actually be dangerous for your child to just spend a long amount of time in thanks to the chemicals that treat the plastic and fabrics and the ones that you may use to clean the car seat on a regular basis.
Studies have shown that the fabrics can contain heavy metals, allergens, lead, chlorine, bromine, and bleach. Most babies will come into contact with these chemicals on their hands and faces and are likely to get them in their mouths. The results? A hoard of health problems that can impact your child for the rest of his or her life, including:
- Liver Toxicity
- Allergic Reactions
- Impaired Learning
Thankfully, there are many companies that have been working to reduce the toxicity ratings of their car seats. Still, parents need to be aware of what they use to clean those seats.
3. You’ve Turned Your Car Seat Forward Too Soon
Most people see it as a milestone when they get to turn their child’s car seat from rear facing to forward facing. Current research and testing have shown that it is important to keep your baby rear facing as long as possible, at least until they make both the height and weight requirements. In some of the modern seats, this can be when they are as old as four or five years old.
In fact, it is best to avoid transitioning until it is necessary between all stages. You don’t want to turn your child around too soon and you do not want to transition to a booster seat until it is absolutely essential. When a seat is rear facing, the force of the accident is distributed more and the head gets more support. Even if your child reaches one of the milestones, it is best to keep him or her in the present seat until reaching both.
2. You Are Using The Wrong Reclining Angle
Once again, this common car seat safety mistake goes back to feeling that your child is uncomfortable. In a rear-facing seat, getting that recline angle perfect can be tricky, but it is time well spent. Babies have very large heads and their necks are extremely week. Without the right recline, the baby might not have crucial support of the neck and spine during an accident. However, this is the main reason for the necessary support: if your baby is at too much of a recline, his or her chin might be on his chest, which can significantly interfere with breathing.
Most new car seats should come with an indicator on the side that will tell you if you are at the targeted recline, which is traditionally 45 degrees. However, you should check the monitor to see if you are at the right level. It can vary from seat to seat and even from weight to weight. In general, the manual is a great resource for parents who are having difficulty getting the recline just right. If you cannot get it because of your car, the manual may suggest rolling a towel or using a pool noodle. It is important to note that this should be the last resort.
As a general rule, younger babies ought to be reclined more than older babies or toddlers. It all has to do with the neck muscles and the size of the baby. If your car is what is making the recline difficult, you may want to consider a different car that will grow with your family. Some parents will try to supplement with a head positioning cushion. This is a great help for infants, in particular. However, you do not want to make the mistake of just buying any positioner. You want to ensure that it was designed to work with your seat.
1. You’re Using An Expired Car Seat
We are all looking for ways to pinch pennies, but the biggest car seat mistake you can make is using an old seat that has expired. Many people think that they can use the same seat over and over again or they can just purchase one at a flea market or yard sale. Do not do this. Most seats are made out of plastic, which does go bad and gets brittle. If a seat has already been in an accident (or just used by a particularly harsh driver) there is a chance that it will not perform as it should in an accident.
Make sure to purchase a new seat or, if you absolutely have to use one that has been used previously, make sure that it is not passed the expiration date.
Remember that your child is extremely vulnerable for the first few years or his or her life. Instead of investing in top of the line cribs, toys, or clothes, make sure to put enough into the stuff that provides safety. There are so many car seat models on the market today, so ensure that you make a pragmatic, secure choice in which one you choose. Go through the legwork of reading reviews, looking at test results, and spending some time with the manual of the seat that you eventually choose. This will help you to understand the seat and not make some of the car seat mistakes that can lead to injuries and even death – you will be extremely thankful you did the work.