September is Baby Safety Month, so it’s the perfect time to make sure you’re installing your child’s car seat safely and correctly. These are a few common mistakes parents make when using a car seat. This guide will explain the right way to do things, so that every mom and dad can be sure that they’re installing the car seat properly!
1. Expiration Date
Parents sometimes assume that car seats last forever, but actually, car seats do come with expiration dates! Most car seats expire about 6-10 years from the date of manufacture. Car seats can undergo a lot of wear and tear during this time frame, and therefore, to ensure that the car seat is always sufficiently safe, car seats come with expiration dates.
2. Register Your Car Seat
Something else many parents mistakenly forget to do - register the car seat! A car seat can be recalled, and if your car seat is registered, you’ll find out about this immediately, straight from the manufacturer.
3. Do the Inch Test
Sometimes, you’ll just figure that it’s okay for the car seat to be able to move somewhat on each side. But the truth is, it's really not safe for the car seat to be able to sway while you drive. To make sure the car seat is installed correctly, be sure to do the inch test: grip the car seat at or near the belt path, and pull, making sure that the car cannot move more than an inch in either direction.
4. Loose Straps
No parent wants to squish their baby, but leaving the straps too loose is a problem. The harness needs to be secure enough that you can’t pinch any extra material at the shoulder or hips. Puffy coats shouldn’t be worn, since they make it impossible to ensure that your child is safely and snugly secured.
5. Car Seat Placement
Many parents often set up the car seat in the rear side seat. They don’t realize that actually, according to the Mayo clinic, the safest spot to put a car seat in is the rear middle seat. Placing the car seat in the rear middle seat can reduce injury risk during a crash. A car seat should never be placed in the front seat, since there is a chance that the airbag can deploy.
6. Belt Path
One common mistake parents make is routing the belt through the wrong path - so make sure that you’re routing the belt correctly!
7. Incorrect chest clip position
This is something many people go wrong with, but it’s really easy to do it properly! We’re talking about positioning the chest clip in the right place. First, tighten the straps and make sure they’re secure. Once you’ve done that, move the chest clip up to armpit level - not higher or lower.
These are some common mistakes new and experienced parents make when it comes to setting up the car seat. Now that you know how to do things right, you’re all ready to start installing your car seat!
Statistics from the NHTSA on Car Safety
Here are some statistics and fun facts that show the importance of car seat safety for the entire family!
- About 90 people die every day in car accidents, and many more injuries than deaths occur each day.
- Car accidents are one of the main causes of death for children in the US.
- When the driver is buckled, children are restrained (seat belts/car seats/boosters) 95% of the time.
- When the driver is unbuckled, children are restrained 67% of the time.
- Child restraints & car seats lower injury risk by 71 to 82%.
- Booster car seats reduce the risk of nonfatal injuries by 45% in children between 4 & 8 years old
- Child restraints are often used incorrectly. Car seat, booster seat, and seatbelt misuse rates are between 74 & 90%. It is important to make sure that, as a parent, you’re aware of how to buckle your child safely.
Car Seat & Booster Age Guide
Do you find it confusing exactly when to switch from one type of car seat to the next? No worries, just read this list, and you’ll know everything you need to be aware of!
0-12 Months: Until a child is a year old, he should always be placed in a rear-facing seat.
1-3 Years Old: A child should be kept in a rear facing seat for as long as possible, for ideal safety. Once your child reaches the max height or weight limit, it’s time to switch to a forward facing car seat.
4-7 Years: During this time, your child should stay in a forward-facing car seat until they reach the maximum height or weight limit specified by the car manufacturer.
8-12 Years: A booster seat should be used until your child is big enough to fit properly in a seat belt.
Safety in the car is so important, and following the age guidelines will help to keep your child safe for the ride! Be sure to follow the instructions that come with your child’s car seat. Once you’ve done that, if you have any questions regarding installation of your car seat from PishPosh Baby, you can always give us a call, and one of our CPST-certified technicians will be happy to help you out!