Dads will do anything to protect their children from harm. And that protective instinct kicks in immediately on the day your son or daughter is born. In fact, a father becoming a child’s super hero starts the day you bring your tiny one home from the hospital in a safe car seat.
As soon as you hear you’re going to be a father, copious amounts of research begin to make certain you purchase the safest car seat on the market. That same care is even more vital when installing and using the seat.
To help with your planning, these three lifesaving car seat rules take you from buying a seat to installing it in your vehicle and properly placing and securing your baby in it.
Rule #1: Make Your Car Seat Buying Decision Based on Safety
No doubt about it, there are a lot of safety seats on the market today in so many different styles and price ranges.
But when deciding which seat to buy, the priority should be on safety and less on designer name or the cool color.
● The safety seat type is age appropriate for your child.
● The unit fits in your car correctly. Some retailers let you take the floor model outside to your vehicle and check the seat’s fit before purchasing.
● The seat’s features are rated average to excellent (3 to 5 stars) by NHTSA.
● The features for properly securing your child are easily accessible and easy to use.
● The safety seat is brand new in the box and has never been used, even as a store display.
● The instruction manual provides comprehensive and clearly written information and installation steps.
● The child restraint seat bears the proper labeling, such as Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS); height, weight and age limits; air bag warnings; basic installation instructions; manufacturer’s information; the seat’s expiration date; information about features; and an FAA label approved for use on airplanes.
● A registration card so you can register the seat for updates and any recall information.
Rule #2: Have a Professional Double-Check Your Car Seat Installation
Even though you followed the instructions very carefully, you should still have a trained professional check that the child’s safety seat is installed in your car correctly.
Consider this statistic: The NHTSA reports that about three out of four car seats are not installed correctly. So, it’s worth your time, and your child’s life, to have your installation checked.
Many communities have car seat inspection stations staffed by certified technicians who will inspect the seat’s installation for free and fix anything that isn’t properly installed. Check with your local police department or fire department for this service.
Rule #3: Always Perform the Quick Safety Tests When Securing Your Child in the Car Seat
It doesn’t take much for a strap to become loose or a harness to be out of position, especially as your child grows. You always want to err on the side of safety and perform these super quick tests each time your youngster is placed in the seat to be sure your little one is safely secured.
- Shoulder straps are at or below the baby’s shoulders in rear-facing seats or at or above in front-facing seats.
- Use the pinch test to check the looseness of the straps. If you can grasp and pinch any amount of strap material at your child’s collarbone, it’s too loose.
- Tighten it until your fingers slide off the webbing.
- The chest clip is resting about mid chest or at armpit level. There is no gap between your newborn’s groin area and the harness buckle.
Following these lifesaving child safety seat rules will put your mind at ease when transporting your child throughout the years, all the way from birth to elementary school age.