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What Parents Should Know About Their Children’s Car Seat

Updated on June 17, 2017

Who would have thought that there are 14,000 car seat related injuries per year? With the vast media coverage on the importance of car seat safety, why is there such a high amount of injuries? To help combat these issues there are some important features of a car seat that all mothers, in particular single mothers should know. Moreover, it is imperative to be aware of the proper method of installing a child’s car seat and ultimately the dos and don’ts of the use of the item.

Basic Rules

When transporting any car seat there are some common sense rules on where best to place it. Other than in the back of the car, it is never a good idea to position any child safety device on areas that can possible cause injury to a child. Therefore, do not place your portable item on tables, bar tools, counters, beds, sofas and any surface above the ground. After placing the infant or child in the device, immediately fasten the safety straps. As a single mother you are doing so many things at once that it is highly possible that you might forget what you just did or did not do. Consequently, it is good to develop the habit of first securing your child.

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Many parents are using or installing their children’s car restraining device incorrectly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “80 percent of car seats” are position erroneously in cars. Below are their age appropriate recommendations.

  • Newborn 20 pounds or less should be placed in “rear-facing” position. In this position baby’s spine, head and neck is better protected. Place the seat in a 45-degree angle as you ensure that the seat’s handle is down and the belts are covering baby’s shoulder. It is important to check that the strap is not too loose. Some seats may not allow for angling adjustments, if not, place a piece of material below the device to create the appropriate angle. When placing the item in the backseat of the car, secure it tightly. If the seat moves more than an inch it is not accurately secured. All car seats and vehicles after 2002, are required to have Lower Anchors and Tethers for children, commonly known as LATCH. It is used in lieu of the car’s seat belt.

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  • Children 1 year, or more than 30 pounds, can move out of the rear-facing position into the forward-facing position. In this position make sure the child’s seat is snugged to the back of the car seat. Readjust the LATCH to the car’s anchor. When securing your child, place car seat straps above the shoulders with the clip below the armpit. Make sure the placement is a not too slack or too tight. When your child gets pass 20 pounds the angle of the seat can change to 35 degrees. If your preference is to use the car’s seat belt pass it through the seat’s “forward-facing belt path”.

  • When your child is 4 years or more than 40 pounds at 4’9” in height, the booster seat can replace the car seat. This means that your child will be secured by the vehicle’s seat belt. If your car only has a backseat lap belt you can purchase a harness vest system. You can order the device online or visit a major department store. Whether you use the strap vest system or regular seat belt be sure the device is over your child’s shoulder and near the armpit. The lower portion of seat belt, should cover the top of your child’s thighs. The next step after the booster seat is the standard car seating and safety belt. Experts suggest that when a child no longer uses a child seat, he should still be placed in the back seat of the car until he turns 15.

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Getting The Right Car Seat

Contrary to popular opinion, an expensive car seat is not necessarily the most effective. Experts assert, a good fit is most important, and that might lead to purchasing an inexpensive car seat. What this means is that you cannot be a good consumer when you purchase a device and your child is not with you. Baby’s presence is a must to establish the “right fit". Before making the purchase, strap baby into the seat as per the above directions. The next step is to see if the item is appropriate for your car. It may not be a good fit so make sure the place of purchase has a good return policy. As a single parent you might have the good fortune of getting a “hand-me-down” seat. When you receive the donation, keep in mind that car seats should be replaced a minimum of five years after initial purchase. So, check the product for the manufacture’s date. If over 8 years the device may no longer be sturdy enough to keep your child safe.

Inspector’s Help

If you are anything like the average person the above directive on installing your child’s protective car device went right over your head. It is all intimidating and at times confusing. Experts understand that parents, in particular single parents who have so much to do, can get overwhelmed by instructions and guidelines. If after several attempts, installing the item is too complicated, call 866-SEAT-CHECK or visit this website www.seatcheck.org for additional support. The service provided by these two divisions is focused on assisting you locate “inspection checkpoint” for proper handling. The checkpoints are excellent areas of service. The inspectors patiently work toward putting you at easy concerning your child’s safety. They will reinstall the seat, and review with you how best to secure your child.

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It should always be safety first when it comes to your child. When in doubt solicit as much help as possible and remember buckle your child in the appropriate way. Help bring the car seat injuries down.

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    • Flipsgeraldine profile image
      Author

      Yvette Marshall 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      It was a pleasure to write on this issue, I too learned some new things about car seat safety.

    • thebrownbear profile image

      thebrownbear 2 years ago

      Wow, back seat until 15! I'll have to remember that as mine are still quite little. Thanks.