Child safety and baby car seats are something we have almost all experienced if we have children. It is, however, a very important thing to learn and understand how to use them properly. Just placing a child in a seat is not enough, you need to make sure you are using it correctly, that it works properly and is doing what it was made to do. Here are some simple guidelines to help you get started learning. Research is key when it comes to car seats, not all will fit in your car so do make sure you go to a shop and have one professionally fitted before you buy so you are sure it will fit.
Your child is the most precious thing in the world, so you must not assume anything.
Keep the seat rear facing for the first 2 years
Two years seems a long time but you should keep your child rear facing in a car seat for that period. The bones in a child’s neck and spine are very delicate and even when they’re 2 years old it can still be something you have to be careful of. Being rear facing helps to protect their delicate bones and have been proven to be the safest position for younger children.
Make sure the seats at the correct angle
A car seat should be the correct angle. This is generally a 45-degree angle backward. The reason for this is you don’t want your child’s head and body to flop forward. You want them to be comfortable and snug leaning backward with their head supported.
Make sure the seat is strapped in correctly
Different car seats are strapped into the car in different ways so it is very important to read the instructions when you first get it. Whether you are using an isofix base or strap it into the car using the seat belt you have to ensure the straps aren’t twisted and you have correctly strapped not only the chair into the car but your child into the seat.
Make sure the harness is tight enough on the child
Make sure the seat belt harness is also correctly placed on the child. Make sure it’s tight enough on the child, without being too tight. If you can pinch any of the belt material then it is probably too loose. Of course you also do not want the belt too tight as you want the child comfortable and you should always remove bulky coats before strapping your child into the seat, you can keep them warm with blankets.
Make sure your seat is not on the recall list
Over the years there have been a tremendous amount of recalls for child safety seats. So you need to make sure that the seat you have is not on the child safety recall list. A company should not sell a child safety seat when it is on this list, but it is still good to check. You might also be given a seat from a friend or relative that’s never been checked against the list. Better to be safe than sorry, so always check.
Make sure the car seat is in good repair
Car seats are often received from relatives or friends, or purchased second-hand, as they are an expensive item. There is nothing wrong with this, just make sure the seat is in good repair and has never been in an accident – if you are in a car accident, no matter how big or small all car seats in the car need to be replaced – your insurance will usually cover this. Remember your child’s life is in the hands of this car seat. Make sure there are no cracks or broken areas, and that the harness and the mounting areas are strong. Make sure there are no loose parts and it is the correct size seat.
In the back and not the front
Your car seat should ride in the back seat, not the front seat. People tend to forget the front seats have airbags and this can be a very big problem for a baby in a car seat. Car seats and children up to the age of 13 should stay in the back seat.
Never exceed the weight and height limit for a child
All car seats have a weight and size limit on them. Make sure your child fits within these parameters. If your child is too heavy for the rated weight of the car seat, or too tall for the rated height of the car seat, you’re just putting your child in danger again. If your child gets too big or too large for the rating of the car seat, don’t procrastinate, go out and get the correct sized car seat.
You really should check the official guidelines on car safety seats for children for further information. There is a lot of good information even though it can be a little bit overwhelming, do start off with familiarising yourself with the laws on car seats for children.