Child Safety Series: Car Seats

Each month this series will provide important facts and tips surrounding child safety in an effort to support parents and caregivers as they navigate reducing risks and creating the safest environment possible for the children in their lives. 

Did you know that 95% of parents leave the hospital with their newborn baby unsafe in their car seat? According to Michelle Pratt of “Safe in the Seat,” a nationally certified child passenger safety expert and owner of her business “Safe in The Seat,” thousands of families struggle with feeling confident about keeping their child protected when it comes to car seat safety. Whether you have a baby on the way or grandchildren you care for, there are steps you can take to help put aside fear and embrace the knowledge to keep those precious little ones safe. 

How to Get Started Safely with Your Car Seat

It may seem simple, but the very first step to car seat safety is making an informed purchase decision. Take time to learn about which car seat options are appropriate for your baby or child’s age, weight and height before you buy.  Read recent product reviews, watch videos, check consumer reports and ask friends and family about their experiences with certain makes and models, to help build confidence as well. Next, it’s important to understand how to correctly install the car seat in your vehicle and buckle your child in, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you want to go the extra mile, you can have it inspected by a certified technician. Many will also allow you to show your child in their seat to double check if their positioning in the harness is correct.

Understanding the Dangers of Improper Car Seat Use 

“Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent,” according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Once your car seat is installed properly, it’s crucial to make sure the car seat supports them properly throughout their growth. Each car seat manual, as well as many of their maker’s websites, will provide safety guidelines for adjusting both the seat and your child’s positioning as they grow. This will include things like when to adjust the angle of the seat, how long the child can safely use the car seat, when to turn the car seat forward-facing, at what point a booster seat is appropriate and more. Remember, more than half of car seats are not used or installed correctly, so keep the manual close by and reference it often during the duration of the car seat’s use.

Common Car Seat Safety Myths 

You can check your car seat installation is correct at any fire station. False. 

You can have your installation checked at a fire station, but not all locations are equipped with the knowledge needed. According to Buckle Up NC, “Permanent Checking Stations (PCS) are locations where parents/caregivers can receive information about child passenger safety from nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians and have their car seats and seat belts checked to be sure they are installed and used correctly.”

It is considered unsafe to get a secondhand, used car seat for your child.  False. 

A used car seat can be a cost-effective option and there is no reason to feel you’re making the wrong choice as long as you’ve done your research. Just answer these questions before purchasing; has this car seat ever been in moderate to severe collision? Do you have the manufacture date, model number and instructions? Is the car seat recalled, expired?

Your child is ready to move to forward-facing or a booster once they reach the right age. False. 

As exciting as it can be for your child to reach the milestone of facing forward like their siblings and parents, there is no proper age to make this change. Instead, children must reach the correct height and weight requirements, following the manufacturer’s guidelines specifically. 

If an item is purchased through a reputable retailer, it’s safe to add to my car seat. False. 

Unfortunately, there are plenty of adorable and “helpful” aftermarket car seat items, sold by some of the most popular baby brands, that are deemed unsafe. The rule here is that any car seat item sold by anyone other than the actual car seat manufacturer, even when it is marketed for safety or convenience, is not considered the safest fit for your child, due to it not being made specifically for your model. 

Helpful Resources to Learn More



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