7 Dangerous Car Seat Mistakes Most Parents Don’t Know They’re Making
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Are you one of those moms that doesn’t let their kid jump off the jungle gym because you’re afraid they’ll break a leg? Or perhaps you try to feed them only organic fruits and vegetables? Or maybe you didn’t take them out of the house for like 2 years after they were born because you were afraid they’d get sick?
First off, there’s nothing wrong with any of these things – as mom’s we’re all entitled to do what we think is best for our children. But how knowledgeable are you when it comes to car seat safety? Did you know that the leading cause of death for children ages 3-14 in the United States is motor vehicle crashes? Did you know that at minimum 72% of child restraints have critical misuses? (source) What if that critical mistake changed your child’s life forever? For as much effort as you put into trying to keep them healthy and safe, do you do everything you can to make sure they are properly restrained in a car seat every time they travel in a motor vehicle?
I am not a certified car seat expert, nor even a self-proclaimed one. But I firmly believe that every parent should spend time researching car seat safety to make sure they are doing everything they can to keep their children safe. You should always consult your car seat user manual to read the specifications of your car seat. Car seats vary a lot based on brand and even model, so be sure to keep your manual and check it routinely!
From all the reading I’ve done and all the pictures I see on social media, here are 7 DANGEROUS car seat mistakes that parents don’t even know they’re making:
Mistake 1. The infant insert gets used past it’s intended weight limit.
Every car seat has their own specifications, but the infant insert is not intended to be used throughout the duration of your child’s time in their infant car seat.
Mistake 2. The child is not properly restrained.
I see so many pictures on social media where a child is not properly buckled. Besides the obvious buckles, there are two other important things to consider.
- Chest clip position: The chest clip should be level with the armpits.
- Tightness: The harness needs to be relatively tight. One way to assess if it’s properly tightened is to try to pinch a fold of the harness strap at the shoulder. If you can get a hold of a section to pinch, it is too loose
Mistake 3. The car seat is not routinely adjusted to fit your child.
As your child grows, their car seat needs to be continuously evaluated and adjusted. For example, the harness strap location should be raised as your child grows and the car seat should be checked to ensure that is properly leveled.
Mistake 4. The car seat is not installed correctly.
Most car seats have two methods by which they can be installed in the car: the latch system (a system of metal hooks) or by using a seat belt. Every car seat has its own specifications, but the latch system has a maximum weight capacity that is lower than that of the seat belt installation. Therefore, if you are using the latch, be sure to switch to the seatbelt as your child grows.
Mistake 5. Your child is not using the right seat.
Consumer reports recently published a study that showed children should be moved to a convertible seat before their first birthday. Here is the video explaining why.
Mistake 6. The child gets turned to forward facing too early.
You should wait to turn your child from rear-facing to forward facing when they reach certain height and weight requirements – not when they reach a certain age. I’ve written a very detailed post about this – you can find it here! If you don’t know about the dangers of forward facing car seats– this post is a MUST READ!
Mistake 7. Your child wears a bulky coat in their seat.
Bulky coats can make it incredibly easy for your child to slip out of the car seat upon impact. I’ve embedded a video to show exactly what I mean. (Side note: I put my children in zip-up hoodies, even in the winter. In my opinion, it is more dangerous for them to wear a coat in a car seat than it is for me to carry them for 30 seconds outside without a winter coat.
I’ve included a picture of my kiddos in their car seats to demonstrate a few of the topics I covered above. Again, I am not a car seat expert. I am just a parent trying to keep my kids as safe as possible in one of the most dangerous places. Please take this seriously – car seat safety is not something that should be taken lightly.
If you have any questions about car seat safety, one place you can check out are local Safety Stops or firehouses. Many of these places will check your car seat to ensure it is properly installed. I hope you found some useful information in this post, after all, we all love our children and want the best for them.
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Now get out there and rock your busy mom life!