Car seat mistakes are more common than you think. The sobering truth is that every day children lose their lives on our roads. Many of these common mistakes can be avoided. Read our post for tips on car seat safety.
Common Car Seat mistakes
Statistics state that everyday we lose 4 to 5 children in car crashes. Many of these children are not buckled up in any form of car seat. Some children are simply not buckled up correctly. Most parents are untrained in the best way to keep their children safe in their car seats. We spoke to our expert team to help and explain how to best use your car seat and how to avoid common car seat mistakes.
Use the correct car seat
Parents try their best to choose the correct car seat, but this can be a baffling process. Be sure to check the manual to find out what the correct way to use the car seat is based on your child’s weight and age. There is no link between the cost of the car seat and its effectiveness. Not only is it uncomfortable for your child to be in an infant car seat that no longer fits, but often this can be unsafe. The opposite is true when referring to a backless booster.
Research car seats and find one that fits your child’s age, weight and height.
Visit a Baby City store and get expert advice from their team as to what car seat is best for your child.
Check the manual periodically and ensure that your child is still the correct weight and age for the car seat.
Not installing your car seat correctly
Unfortunately many car seats are installed correctly but there is a very easy way to fix this. The harness is a crucial part of car seat safety. Think of the harness as a parachute strap. If you make the harness too loose your child will easily be able to wiggle out. Many parents confuse snug harness straps with their child being uncomfortable. Your harness should be tight enough that you can only fit one fit between your child’s collarbone and the harness strap. The Pinch test indicates that you should not be able to pinch the fabric of the harness once your child is snapped in.
Many common car seat mistakes include:
- Routing seat belts incorrectly.
- Not ensuring the harness or seat belt is tight enough. Ensure that the harness is not twisted in any way. If you can pinch the harness fabric then it is too loose.
- Not checking that the seat belt is correctly locked when clicked in.
- Placing the car seat in the wrong position in the car. If a child is placed in the front seat, ensure that the airbags are turned off.
Read your car seat manual and follow all the directions and tips for installation.
If you feel that the car seat is not secure ask for help from experts like the team at Baby City or Bambino. The car seat should not move more than an inch when secured.
ISOFIX helps to avoid a lot of the problems with incorrect installation. Read our blog post on ISOFIX for some more tips.
Never use an infant car seat in the front of the vehicle with airbags
If there is an accident and the airbag deploys, this could lead to serious injury or even death. Always place your child in the back seat of the vehicle, which offers more protection.
If you have to place your child in the front seat, if your car only has front seats for example. Ensure that you turn the front airbag off. Check with your car manufacturer on how to do this, some vehicles have a switch that can be turned off others the manufacturer will have to do this. Also check with your insurance as to whether this will affect your claim should you be in an accident. If you are concerned about not being able to see your child, have a look at products like the Easy View which allows you to see your child in the back seat.
Turning the seat forward facing too soon
Many parents that this is a milestone in your child’s life and symbolises them becoming a “big kid”. The truth is that rear-facing for longer is the safest option for your child. Many car seats offer a rear-facing for longer option, an example is the Joie Stages which rear-faces until 18kg. Children’s vertebrae are not fused until early childhood, this makes them prone to injury if involved in a car seat. Rear-facing provides more support to the neck as the car seat absorbs most of the force from the collision.
Choose a car seat that allows your child to rear-face for longer. Keep them rear-facing in their car seat for as long as it is comfortable. Read our post on rear-facing for more tips.
Switching out of a Booster too soon
Many parents think of car seats as being for babies and switch their kids out of car seats when they outgrow their infant seats. There are car seat options for bigger kids too – like a backless booster or booster cushions. Booster cushions take up less room and feel more grown up for your child. Using a Booster Cushion means that they use the vehicle’s seat belt and act as an intermediary stage before your child can use the seat belt alone.
Seat belts are designed for people who are at least four feet and nine inches tall (1,4m), that may not be until your kid is 10 to 12. Use the 5-Step test to check if your little one is ready to get rid of their booster.
Using Extra products:
Car seats are tested with just the car seat in question. By adding accessories you may be tampering with the safety of the seat. Ensure that you had only the minimal amount of extras that you feel are vital for your child. Adding an extra insert will not harm your child, but it’s when this becomes excessive. Bundling your child in extra jackets and blankets can be harmful in an accident. The extra bulk compresses in a crash and the harness becomes loose. Cover your child with a light fleece blanket after buckling up.
Consult a sales rep at a baby specialist store like Baby City. There are many common accessories that they will recommend. We recommend the Diono range:
Newborn insert – often in the case of small babies or premies an additional newborn insert is acceptable.
Seat leveller – the Diono Sit Rite helps adjust the incline of the car seat to ensure that your child’s head does not fall forward whilst asleep in the car seat. Diono also have a range of car seat mats, sun shades, organisers and other travel accessories.
Don’t forget to your car seat every time you travel. Why? Because 60% of crashes involving children happen within 10 minutes of home, more than three-quarters of them happen when the speed limit is 70 km per hour or less, and almost all of them happen when the driver is familiar with the route.
Remember your child’s safety is more important than saving time, so commit to ensuring that you avoid these common car seat mistakes.