The number one rule of car seat safety is to always use a car seat, starting with the very first ride of your baby’s life – the ride home from the hospital. Here are a few basic safety rules to remember about using a car seat that will ensure a safe trip for your child.
Never place the car seat near the airbags of a car. Airbags can be very harmful to small children because of the strong force at which they deploy at. Small children can be suffocated or badly injured by a deploying airbag.
The middle of the backseat is by far the safest place for your baby to ride. However, anywhere in the backseat is safer than the front seat.
Be sure to use the correct harness slots when fastening your baby in. Refer to the instruction manual that came with the child seat if you are uncertain of which slots to use.
Always keep the harness strap snug. Place the plastic harness clip at armpit level and on the breastbone to hold shoulder straps in place against the baby.
Make sure the harness straps lie flat against the child and are not twisted.
Adjust the straps to allow for the thickness of your child’s clothes, but still keep them snug. Avoid putting your child in overly thick or puffy clothing, such as snowsuits, while in car seats. This thickness will create a less-snug fit of the straps around your child and in the event of a car accident your child may slip through the straps.
If your infant’s head is flopping forward when in the seat, the seat may not be reclined enough. Check the chair instruction manual to make sure the angle is correct and make sure that your child is large enough for the specific seat you are trying to use.
Don’t leave your baby in the car seat for too long without a break. If you are making a very long journey with your baby, stop every hour or so and take the baby out of the seat and hold him in a flat position to give his limbs, neck, and ribs a break from being in an upright seating position.
Remember to take your car seat to a certified installation inspector to make sure that you have installed the seat correctly. Do this even if you feel you have installed the seat perfectly. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the safety and security of your child.