10 Common Car Seat Mistakes

common car seat mistakesSafety is essential when it comes to our children. The car seat is a useful tool for parents to safely get their kids around, but they have to be used properly. Here are some common car seat mistakes parents make and how you can avoid them.

1. Buying a car seat without doing research. Is it safe? Has it been recalled? Do you understand the installation instructions? Is it expired or damaged?

2. Incorrectly installing the seat. The seat’s installation is critical to its safety. If it’s not strapped in properly, your child could be at risk. I know that when we open something new, many of us toss the manual aside, but this one is worth reading.

3. Reclining the seat at the wrong height. When the seat is in the rear-facing position, you can adjust the incline depending on child’s size and age. Most seats have indicators so you can achieve the right angle (about 45 degrees). The goal is to keep your child laying down so his or her heavy head doesn’t fall forward and cut off the airway.

4. Placing the car seat in the wrong seat. The safest place for the car seat is in the bag, away from airbags. Airbags can do serious damage to a little one. If possible, place the seat in the middle of the back row. If you have only a single row of seats in your car, disable the airbag on the car seat side.

5. Letting your child sleep in the car seat. It’s fine if your child dozes in the car, but don’t use the seat as a replacement crib in the house. Sitting too long in the seat can compress baby’s chest and cause oxygen deficiency problems.

6. Leaving the harness too loose. The harness straps should be snug, without any slack. If you can still pinch the fabric of the harness between your fingers, it’s too loose.

7. Facing the seat forward too soon. Many parents make this mistake because they want to keep an eye on their children who are getting older and more opt to make messes or noises for attention. It’s advised that children ride backwards until two years old or 35 pounds. Once you turn the seat around, be sure to install it correctly in this position (the instructions might be different than the rear position).

8. Using the retainer clip incorrectly. The retainer clip (the clip between the two straps on baby’s chest) should sit at about armpit level, across the breastbone. If it’s poorly positioned, your child could be ejected from the seat in a crash.

9. Using a car seat that’s been in an accident. I’m not talking about simple fender benders here. If your car seat has been in an accident where damage was done to the car, it’s no longer suitable for use, even if it looks safe.

10. Putting the car seat on top of a shopping cart. Some parents will put the car seat on the upper portion of a shopping cart while they shop so baby can see them. This makes the cart top heavy. A baby could cause enough motion to topple the cart and cart seat.

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