Babies A-Z: Your Baby’s Life Depends on Your Car Seat
Is it really necessary to put your baby in a car seat if you’re only going a block or two? Well, let me ask you something.
Would you skip using a condom because you’re only having a quickie?
Yeah. Let that sink in a minute. Not using a carseat because you are not going very far is the same logic as not using a condom because you are only going to have a quickie.
As a new mom, when you go to pick out your baby’s car seat, you’re bound to have a lot of questions! And for good reason!
According to SeatCheck.org: 8 Common Car Seat Installation Mistakes
- Not using the right child safety seats for a child’s size and age;
- Not placing the child safety seat in the correct direction;
- Incorrect installation of the child safety seat in relation to the vehicle’s air bags;
- Incorrect installation and tightness of the child safety seat to the vehicle seat;
- Not securing or tightening the child safety seat’s harness and crotch straps;
- Improper use of locking clips for certain vehicle safety belts;
- Not making sure the vehicle’s seat belts fit properly across the child when using a booster seat; and
- Using a defective or broken child safety seat.
Why should you take the car seat decision so seriously?
According to the CDC, more than 650 kids under the age of 12 were killed in auto accidents in 2011.
And nearly 150 thousand kids in the same age group were seriously injured in accidents.
Of those who died, a third were unbuckled and not using pr0per car seats.
The CDC’s Recommendations for Risk Reduction for Every Age
Buckling children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, and seat belts reduces the risk of serious and fatal injuries:
- Car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants (aged <1 year) by 71%; and to toddlers (aged 1–4 years) by 54% in passenger vehicles.2
- Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged 4–8 years when compared with seat belt use alone.3
- For older children and adults, seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by approximately half.4
Which car seat is best for your baby?
There are a ton of different car seats on the market today, with a wide variety of features. Check out this handy infographic from the CDC for the basics.
You need to take this particular decision pretty seriously. Remember that the car seat you choose will be what protects the baby if there was ever a car accident – it can literally be the difference between surviving an accident or not!
Car Seat Recommendations from the CDC: Know the stages
Make sure children are properly buckled up in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt, whichever is appropriate for their age, height and weight.
Birth up to Age 2: Rear-facing car seat.
For the best possible protection, infants and children should be buckled in a rear-facing car seat, in the back seat, until age 2 or when they reach the upper weight or height limits of their particular seat. Check the seat’s owner’s manual and/or labels on the seat for weight and height limits.
Age 2 up to at least Age 5: Forward-facing car seat.
When children outgrow their rear-facing seats they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat, in the back seat, until at least age 5 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of their particular seat. Check the seat’s owner’s manual and/or labels on the seat for weight and height limits.
Age 5 up until seat belts fit properly: Booster seat.
Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat, (by reaching the upper height or weight limit of their seat), they should be buckled in a belt positioning booster seat until seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck). Remember to keep children properly buckled in the back seat for the best possible protection.
Once Seat Belts Fit Properly without a Booster Seat: Seat Belt
Children no longer need to use a booster seat once seat belts fit them properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck). The recommended height for proper seat belt fit is 57 inches tall. For the best possible protection keep children properly buckled in the back seat.
Install and Use Car & Booster Seats Properly
Install and use car seats and booster seats according to the seat’s owner’s manual or get help installing them from a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.
Find a child passenger safety technician.
Don’t Seat Children in Front of an Airbag
Buckle all children aged 12 and under in the back seat. Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an air bag.
Seat Children in the Middle of the Back Seat
Buckle children in the middle of the back seat when possible, because it is the safest spot in the vehicle.13
Use Proper Restraints Every Trip
Buckle children in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts on every trip, no matter how short.
Always Wear a Seat Belt
Set a good example by always using a seat belt themselves.
Sometimes the car seat is even sentimental to the mom because it is the item that is going to carry baby home for the first time from the hospital.
So when picking out a car seat ALWAYS ask questions! No question is a dumb question when it comes to your child’s safety!
Now comes the fun part! All car seats come in different colors and designs! Get creative! Make your baby’s “second home” unique and comfortable!
Tell me how your experience of going and purchasing your baby’s car seat went, in the comments below!
Additional Resources for Car Seat Safety and Selection from the CDC
- What Works: Strategies to Increase Car Seat and Booster Seat Use
- CDC Vital Signs: Child Passenger Safety – Buckle up every age, every trip
- CDC Feature Article: Child Passenger Safety
- Buckle Up: Restraint Use State Fact Sheets
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Policy Statement – Child Passenger Safety
- Find a child passenger safety technician
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Parent’s Central