Baby Safety – Car Seats and Travel
5 Car Seat Buying Tips
- Buy new. Car seats are constantly being tested, recalled and improved, so it’s best to buy the newest models on the market. Plus, a used car seat could have been in an accident, making it less safe.
- Look for the JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) certification.
- Read on-line reviews, such as our Babble Best features.
- Fill out the registration card. This is the only way to ensure notification if your car seat is recalled.
- Keep the receipt and box. Car seats fit better in some cars than others, so give yourself plenty of time before the baby comes to install and check the car seat. If it doesn’t fit right, exchange it as soon as you can.
Top 10 Car Seat Mistakes
- Incorrect positioning. Infants should always be rear-facing and in the back seat – no exceptions. Their tiny bones can better absorb the force of a crash in that position, and their heads are less likely to flop forward and cause major spinal injuries.
- Incorrect installation. Correctly installing a car seat is trickier than just following the instructions. In fact, it’s estimated that 85 percent of car seats aren’t as secure or safe as they should be. It’s an easy, free fix: Have your car seat professionally installed or checked at a local police station or highway patrol unit.
- Turning the seat around too early. Car seats should be rear-facing for as long as possible – definitely until the baby is 20 pounds. After that, try not to swing them around until they reach the maximum length and weight limit, usually closer to the 2-year mark.
- Bundling them in thick padding. Using an additional car seat cushion or a bulky coat (which could also cause overheating!) prevents the baby from being as tightly fit as possible.
- The seat is too loose. There should be less than an inch of movement when you rock the car seat back and forth. If you’re having a hard time, use your knee to hold it as firmly as possible to the back seat, and then tighten the straps. Once you’re done, go and have it professionally checked because it’s probably still not tight enough.
- The baby isn’t strapped in correctly. It’s not as simple as just clicking the buckle. Make sure the harness straps are thread through the slot that’s at or below the baby’s shoulders for maximum security and that there’s no slack whatsoever. You shouldn’t be able to pinch the strap when it’s tightened to your baby.
- The retainer clip isn’t positioned correctly. The retainer should be centered across your baby’s chest at armpit level.
- The wrong anchor is used. Check that your car has a LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system, which means you can attach the car seat to metal rings behind the rear seat cushion for a tighter fit. Most cars made after 2003 are equipped with a LATCH system, but some only have the anchors for the window seat. The car seat is safest in the middle, so use the seat belt if there aren’t center anchors.
- Wrong angle. Most car seat bases will tell you if the car seat is angled at a safe position, but make sure it’s about 45 degrees. If too upright, the baby’s head could fly forward in a crash, causing serious injury or even death. If your base isn’t adjustable, use a rolled up towel under where the baby’s feet dangle for a better position.
- Using a recalled seat. Check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to see if your car seat model has been recalled. If it was, contact the manufacturer.