I HATE criticism. It doesn't matter if it's constructive or bad because in both cases I emotionally break down inside. When I became a mom for the first time I received a lot of solicited and unsolicited advice on everything from nursing, to sleep routines, to SIDS, to asthma. But the BEST criticism I ever received was from a few select moms who I consider close friends, and they spoke with me about car seat safety. Each of these women could have kept their mouth shut and said nothing but since they decided that my son's safety was more important than my hurt feelings they have in turn helped me to keep my kids safe.
When I look back at pictures of Calvin in his car seat as a baby and young toddler I cringe. I researched so many different things when I was pregnant, so how could I have missed the importance of car seat safety? Especially when it is the #1 cause of death in children in America! I too did not know how important car seat safety was and I did not realize how much I had to learn about them. So from one mom to another, know I was there too.
My hope in sharing some facts, tips, and helpful resources is that you will take the few extra minutes to ensure your kids are safely strapped into the car. I read so many news stories and articles about kids dying in car accidents and also about kids whose lives were spared due to properly being strapped into their car seat. So please let me hop on my soap box for one second and share my love of car seat safety. If this can help even one child to be properly secured, then it's worth it.
A few scenarios to think about:
-If your car was to be in an accident and was flipped upside down is your child(ren) secured enough in the car seat or seat belt so he/she/they would not fall out and smash their head?
-If a semi-truck was to hit you from behind, would your child be secured enough in their seat to remain in the seat and not fly through the windshield or suffer from very severe whiplash?
Things to keep in mind:
- READ YOUR MANUALS - this sounds stupid because they are so long and practically no one reads manuals anymore, but every seat is so different and has different requirements. It only takes 10 minutes at most to review the proper ways to install and harness your seat.
- Chest clip belongs at arm pit level.
- Rear face as long as possible! In California state law is at least 2 years of age but up to age 4 or when your rear facing limits are reached is suggested.
- Check the expiration date on your car seat (yep I never knew this before, either). Do not used an expired car seat.
- Expensive car seats do not mean safer car seats. It just means more bells and whistles and ease of use.
- Always use the top tether when forward facing a car seat.
- When preforming the pinch test, only test above the chest clip and not below near the tummy area of the harness.
- When rear facing, the straps must be below or at shoulder level.
- When forward facing, straps must be at or above shoulder level.
- Never strap your child in their car seat with a heavy or puffy jacket on. This can mask a bad fit.