Published on May 11, 2012

car seat mistakes

Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make: Car Seat Safety, Part 2

As a pediatrician, I see parents bring in babies in car seats all the time. As a result, I can see firsthand the mistakes people make
when putting their child into a carrier.

Common Car Seat Mistakes

  • Carrying A Baby In An Infant Carrier Without Buckling Them In
    • Even though newborns don’t move much on their own, they get jostled around a lot when they are being carried. Always strap your baby in if you are carrying them anywhere in his or her car seat!
  • Not Adjusting The Straps As A Child Grows
    • When rear-facing, the shoulder straps should be at or below a child’s shoulders. When forward-facing, the straps should be at or above their shoulders.
  • Leaving The Chest Clip Too Low
    • The chest clip should be at the level of the armpits.
    • Not Having The Straps Tight Enough
      • The straps should be loose enough so you can easily run your finger underneath the straps, but not so loose that you can pinch the strap together once it is buckled.
  • Bulky Clothing Getting In The Way
    • If you have to loosen the straps quite a bit to get your child buckled, you have just made the car seat less safe. You are better off covering the child with a blanket or putting their coat on backwards once they are buckled in.
  • Leaving The Straps Twisted
    • Believe it or not, this actually does interfere with the way your child is protected in an accident. When straps are twisted, there is less surface area that is protected, and a twisted strap may dig into their skin more, causing more damage.
  • Using An Expired Car Seat
    • Did you know car seats expire? The date should be stamped into the plastic on the underside of the seat. Typically, they expire about six years after they were manufactured. The everyday wear and tear combined with the high heat inside cars in the summer does gradually break down the plastic, making the seats less safe.
  • Not Installing The Seat Correctly
    • This is where the manual is essential! Do not throw it away; keep track of where it is stored. If you have to remove the car seat or put it in another car, you will likely need it. Not all car seats are installed the same, and they certainly don’t all fit the same in different cars. Luckily, there are people who can double check installation for you.

Part Three: Buckle Up: Car Seat Safety

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