Leaving the hospital and putting your newborn child in a car
seat for the first time can be hard. Am I doing this right? Is the car seat
secure enough? Is my child comfortable? It is normal to second-guess yourself,
as you are so concerned with the safety of your child.
The Internet has been buzzing with questions that new parents have asked about car seat safety, such as what type of seat your child should be in or how long to rear face your child. We've done a little digging to get some answers to a few of the most common questions:
Question #1: How
long does my child need to be rear facing?
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear facing until the age of two, at the least. The age of two is currently the minimum because most of the data comparing injuries from rear facing and forward facing in car accidents are centered on that age group. However, two-year-old children still haven’t developed a strong enough spinal column for forward facing to be completely safe. The longer a child sits rear facing in the proper car seat, the safer they will be.
There are a lot of websites dedicated to providing factual
information about rear facing car seats, such as www.csftl.org
Question #2: Is my child’s car seat secure enough in the car?
To avoid injury in a car accident, the car seat should not
be able to move more than an inch to the left, right, or forward. To test the
security of the seat take both hands and grasp the car seat at the base. Now
try to shift the seat. If it moves more than one inch either way, it is not
To fix it, place your knee in the seat (or arm if it is a toddler seat) and put all of your weight into it while tightening the seatbelt. Don’t forget to lock the belt once you have tightened it!
Question #3: How do I harness my child in the car seat correctly?
When harnessing you child in, try to pinch the fabric of the
harness. If you are able to fold the fabric, then the harness is too loose. The
straps should be snug against your child, and properly positioned over the
shoulders, to prevent to chance of your child coming out of the seat in the
event of a crash.
Another common mistake is placing the chest clip on the
stomach or above the shoulders instead of on the chest. It is recommended that
the chest clip be armpit level in order to be effective in crash protection.
Keep in mind that it is important to remove any blankets and
puffy or thick jackets or sweaters when fastening your child in the car seat!
Doing so will ensure that the harness is snug against your child and will be
able to do the job in the event of a crash.
For more child passenger safety laws, visit this website
to see the laws for each state!