For Baby’s Sake, Avoid These Common Car Seat Errors
I have been like a temporary father to hundreds of babies. In my role as a baby car seat installer, I assume the serious responsibility of ensuring the safety of the babies whose car seats I install. In my experience in this capacity, I have seen many common errors when it comes to the use of baby car seats.
Improper installation of your car seat results in improper protection for your baby’s safety. Studies have shown that over 80% of car seats are not installed correctly. Certain safety standards need to be met during installation. Things like the proper recline angle of the seat need to be considered. The car seat should not move more than 1 inch from side to side, front to back or in any direction if it is correctly installed. You can consult your car seat instruction booklet and vehicle owner’s manual.
Harness your child correctly. Many parents purchase expensive seats for the best protection, yet many fail to realize that harnessing a child correctly in their seat is more important. Harness straps should come from at or below the child’s shoulder when rear facing and from at or above the child’s shoulder when forward facing. They must be snug and you should not be able to stick more than one finger in between your child and the harness at their collarbone. The chest clip should sit flush against the chest and the buckle should not rise high up onto their abdomen area.
Do not throw the car seat instructions in the garbage along with the plastic wrap that the car seat comes in. They are like your “car seat bible” and should be followed religiously. In case you have lost them, simply call the manufacturing company and request a replacement copy. Refer to them when you make changes in the use of the car seat such as converting from rear facing to front facing.
A car seat is not made to be wash and wear. The fabrics in harness straps and plastics used by car seat manufactures are designed to withstand the force of a car crash. By washing or soaking fabrics in strong detergents or bleach and then using the high heat of an iron causes weakening of the materials and rendering the car seat unsafe. Carefully clean your car seat in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you happen to lose or misplace a part, do not use “unreasonable facsimiles” for the parts like cloth straps or duct tape. Get replacement parts from the car seat manufacturer if you can or simply buy a new car seat. Your baby is certainly worth the expense.
You should be more concerned with interior safety as opposed to interior decorating. Do not choose a car seat simply based on colour or design. The colour of a car seat is not important when it comes to choosing the safest car seat model. Instead, you should pay attention to the height and weight allowances of the different models and purchase the one that will last your child the longest.
The money you save is not worth the risk you take when purchasing a used car seat. Car seats have an expiry date. As the plastic weakens over time and the energy absorbing foam disintegrates the seat loses its safety effectiveness. You would not feed your baby milk that has expired so why put your baby in a car seat that has expired? You can check with the manufacturer regarding the expiry date. Never buy a used car seat if you have no idea of its crash history or recall details.
When it comes to advice about car seats, free advice is not necessarily good advice. Your friends, relatives and even your pediatrician may mean well when giving you advice but they could very well steer you in the wrong direction. Their advice can be outdated and unsafe. The best way to get great car seat advice is to consult a trained professional car seat technician.
“Whistles and bells” are not recommended and are downright dangerous. A plain car seat is the safest. That is because car seat accessories are not regulated by federal safety standards. Your baby should not be put at risk for the sake of having a decorative toy affixed to the car seat. Loose or loosely tied toys can become flying projectiles during a sudden stop or collision.
You must pay very strict attention to height and weight limits of the car seat rather than just the age of your baby. As your baby grows in height and grows in weight, you will have to switch to the car seat that best suits the baby’s height and weight. Adequate protection for your baby will be ensured if you change your car seat accordingly.
The best way to alleviate your car seat safety concerns and avoid errors is to have your car seat installed by a certified specialist. It can take all the worry out of the installation process. Your baby is extra special and dear to you. Extra special care needs to be taken to ensure your baby’s safety.
Mohammad Bhorat is the owner and operator of Baby Car Seat Installers located in Markham, Ontario. He is a certified Car Seat Installation Technician through St John’s Ambulance. Mohammad offers free car seat inspections. Contact by phone at 1 416 882 4248 or email: Info@carseatinstallers.com Website: www.carseatinstallers.com