As parents, we put such a lot of thought into the purchase of our first child car seat. Knowing that car seat mistakes are easy to make, we also opted to have them professionally installed.
This gave us peace of mind for two reasons. Firstly, they were installed correctly from the get-go. Secondly, the installer passed on some tips on how to ensure they stayed safe. We wanted them to go the distance!
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Car Seat Mistakes to Avoid
Here are some of the tips we have picked up on car seat mistakes to avoid:
1. Are the straps tight enough?
When your little one is strapped in and you’ve tightened the straps, you should not be able to “pinch an inch”. If there is a gap that measures around an inch or more between the child and the strap, it needs to be tightened up.
If your kids are like mine, they might protest a little at being so firmly strapped in. It’s for their safety, though, so always check this before setting off. Refer to your car seat manual to find out how to properly buckle a child in.
2. Have you removed all bulky clothing?
It might be tempting in the colder months to keep your little one’s coat on when you put them in their car seat. The key issue is not being able to then tighten the straps enough which directly affects safety, especially in a crash. A better solution would be to dress them in thinner layers so that when you remove their jacket, they are still snug and warm.
For babies and smaller children, you can also tuck a blanket around them once they’re securely strapped in. The blanket should always go over the straps, not under. For more tips on this, I found this article really helpful.
3. Do you need to adjust the seat as they grow?
As your tiny tot grows, your car seat needs to grow with them. Your seat should have a guide to help with this called a ‘shoulder marker’. This helps you to figure out how to keep your child in a rear-facing position until they meet this marker.
The headrest on your car seat should also be adjustable. As your child grows taller, you will need to raise the headrest in line with that too.
4. Is it time to forward face?
Research conducted by Britax Safe-n-Sound recommends rear-facing a baby as long as possible, up to two – three years. Frontal collisions are the most common type of accident on the road and rearward facing car seats are proven to offer the best protection.
The Britax team say: “We strongly recommend rear-facing for as long as possible, as this form of travel supports a child’s head and neck substantially better in vehicle crashes. Even though the Australian Standards states you can forward face from six months, we recommend ‘Rear for a Year’ (at least), so that your most precious cargo gets the best start in life. That’s also why we design child car seats that give you the opportunity to rear face for longer. Platinum PRO™ and Millenia™ can be used in rear-facing mode from birth to approximately 30 months and offers revolutionary dual layer head and torso Side Impact Cushion Technology (SICT™) as well as many other innovative features such as Thermo5™, AHR™ and being ISOFIX Compatible.”
5. Has your car seat has been in an accident?
If your baby’s car seat has ever been involved in a car accident, do not continue to use it. Refer to your insurance policy about how you can go about replacing the car seat.
If you have a Britax Safe-n-Sound child restraint and you’ve been involved in an accident, you might be eligible for a suitable replacement. You can find out more about that here.
I hope you’ve found these car seat safety tips helpful.
Finding, installing and using a car seat for your baby is a big process. You’ll be striving to get it right, for the safety of your child.
What are your tips for keeping your little one happy and safe on the road?
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Make sure you check you are not making any of these car seat mistakes.