Common Car Seat Safety Mistakes

Car seat safety is important for protecting your child during travel. This is why you should know how to safely install a car seat and buckle up as your child grows.

Below are the most common car seat safety mistakes parents commit, and how to avoid them.

Getting a used car seat without knowing its history

  • If you’re going to get a used car seat for your baby, make sure that:
  • The car seat has instructions and a label indicating its manufacture date and model number.
  • The car seat [model] has not been recalled.
  • It is not more than 6 years old.
  • It has no visible cracks or missing parts.
  • Lastly, the car seat has never been in a moderate or severe crash.
  • If you know nothing about the used car seat, do not use it.

Placing the car seat in the wrong spot

The back seat is the safest place for your child’s car seat where it is far from the active air bags. If the air bag inflates, it could hit the back of a rear-facing car seat, exactly where your child’s head is located. This could cause a serious or even fatal injury.

It is also not a good idea to place your child’s car seat next to a car door with a side air bag. Read your car seat manual to guide you on how to place a car seat next to a door. If you are installing only one car seat in the back seat, place it in the center of the seat instead of next to a door.

Using the car seat as a substitute crib

Using a car seat as a substitute for a crib is not good for your child since it is meant to protect your child during travel. A very recent study indicated that sitting upright in a car seat may compress a newborn’s chest causing lower levels of oxygen. Buckling your child during travel is necessary, but you should avoid letting your child sleep or relax in the car seat for extended periods of time out of the car. Airway obstruction, no matter how mild, can blight your child’s growth.

Incorrectly buckling up your child

Buckling your child correctly can be difficult at first so make sure to read the car seat’s manufacturer’s instruction manual, and the part about safety seats on your vehicle owner’s manual.  To buckle up your child properly make sure that:

  • The seat is secured tight, allowing no more than an inch of space to move from side to side, or front to back. 
  • You install the car seat in the right direction.

If you’re using an infant-only seat or a convertible seat in the rear-facing position – a common choice for newborns – keep these tips in mind:

  • Use the harness slots described in the car seat’s instruction manual, usually those at or below the infant’s shoulders.
  • Thread the straps through the shell and pad.
  • Place the harness or chest clip even with your child’s armpits – not the abdomen or neck. Make sure the straps and harness lie flat against your baby’s chest and over his or her hips with no slack.

Source: mayoclinic