Car seats are one of the main items that keep your child safe while in the car. Although they are designed to reduce harm, there are many common mistakes that you should know and do their best to avoid.
Child is turned face-forward too early.
Babies are safest in their car seat when they are rear-facing because their head, neck, and spine are better supported. The rule used to say that you can turn your child forward-facing when they celebrate their first birthday, but now data is saying that it is a good idea to wait until your child is two or three.
Car seat is not properly installed.
There should be no wiggle room where the safety belt is pulled through. For best measure, the seat should not move more than one inch in either direction.
The seat straps are too loose.
The harness straps on the car seat should be tightened so that there is no slack.
The car seat is angled incorrectly.
The angle of the car seat should be so that the child is not flopped forward. The angle required depends on the type of seat you have and can be found in your car seat manual.
The harness clip is not in the correct position.
The harness retainer clip on your child’s car seat should be at armpit level, not in the middle of the child’s chest. It is considered too high if the child can rest their chin on the clip, and it is too low if it is near their belly button.
The child is wearing a large jacket.
In the winter months, many parents buckle their child in the car seat with a large, warm jacket on. It is advised that you remove large coats when your child is in their seat because it creates extra slack and is not providing the utmost safety for your child while riding.
Ignoring expiration dates.
Many parents decide to re-use the car seats with their second or third child. This seems like a great idea to save money; however, car seats do have expiration dates. Be sure to check these to ensure that the seat is still safe to use after an extended amount of time.
Buying the most expensive car seat.
Though you may think that the most expensive seat is the safest, that’s not always the case. Usually the more expensive seats just tend to look better, but the cheaper option is actually just as safe, if not safer.
Moving to a booster seat before they are ready.
Some parents think that because their child is four or five years of age then they are ready for a booster seat. In reality, age does not matter. It all depends on their height and weight.
Not having your installation checked by an expert.
Although you may have followed the instructions perfectly, it is always a good idea to have your car seat installation checked by an expert. Fire departments and police stations typically offer this service free of charge.