As modern society parents, there’s so much we have to be thankful for. One of these things is the highly revered car seat. No kidding! Car seats have become an indispensable part of every modern family for the reason that it keeps our little ones safe inside a moving car.
Injuries — even deaths — from vehicular accidents have been prevented by car seats. But the thing about car seats is that they need to be used 100% correctly in order to work properly. A tiny mistake can make your car seat ineffective in protecting your baby. Some mistakes might even cause your child harm.
To know these car seat rules and to learn more about car seat safety, here’s a list of 7 car seat mistakes that you should avoid making.
1. Forgotten registration
Before you forget about it, once you get your car seat, find the registration card. Fill it out and mail it back to the manufacturer. If this card is not present, look for the instructions on how to register your car seat online.
This is but a simple step. However, simply registering your car seat allows the manufacturer to contact you in case your model has been recalled. If such does happen, you may be entitled for a free replacement and your child won’t be exposed to unnecessary risks.
2. Incorrect installation
Just remember that one of the most important things that you will ever do is to install your baby’s car seat correctly. First, you have to make sure that the straps attaching the car seat to the vehicle seat are tight. Do the inch test, which means the car seat, once installed, should not move more than one inch in any direction.
3. Harness and strap in the wrong position
Aside from the straps attaching the car seat to the vehicle seat, it is also crucial to check the position of the harness clip and the child straps. The harness clip should always be at your child’s armpit level. For rear-facing car seats, the straps should be below your child’s shoulders.
4. Using a hand-me-down car seat
Using hand-me-down baby items is a great way to save money as a mom. But getting a car seat that adheres to the most current car seat safety rules is something that should take precedence over saving money.
This is because car seats have an expiration date. They are usually good to use 6 to 10 years after being manufactured. Beyond that, the integrity of the product might become compromised. For example, there might be loose straps, broken parts, and torn fabric. To avoid these, it is always best to purchase a new car seat.
5. Turning your baby around too soon
It is pretty exciting to see your baby meet their milestones, but when it comes to car seat rules, delaying the milestones just might be the safer option for your child. Do not turn your baby around from rear-facing to front-facing position too soon. They should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they have reached or surpassed the height and weight requirements listed by the manufacturer. In many cases, this means using a rear-facing car seat until the age of 2.
6. Jackets and coats worn in the car seat
One of the most common car seat mistakes new parents make is bundling their child in a snowsuit or winter coat while the latter is strapped in their car seat. While it may seem harmless, a bulky coat or jacket will entail strapping your baby to their car seat more loosely. This reduces the car seat’s effectiveness and may cause it to be useless if an accident happens.
In other words, because your child should always be properly strapped to their car seats, avoid having them wear bulky clothing or multiple layers. If it’s too cold, strap your baby into their car seat as usual and cover them with a thick blanket such as chenille or sherpa.
7. Dangly toys and accessories
Finally, to keep your car seat safe and effective, avoid adding dangly toys and other car seat accessories to it. Unless the accessories already came with the car seat upon purchase, resist the urge to decorate it with other forms of entertainment, like plastic hanging toys or latch-on mirrors. Instead let your baby play with a separate plush toy or soft rattle in the car, but never attach it to their car seat.
Reading about car seat safety might be overwhelming and scary, especially if you are a first-time parent. However, always remember that just knowing and following the correct car seat rules and understanding the common car seat mistakes give you a huge advantage in making sure that your baby is as safe as possible.