Nearly two years ago my husband and I were getting ready to bring our newborn baby home from the hospital. As I put my tiny baby in his car seat for the first time I felt nervous and unsure that I was doing everything right, even though I had spent time preparing for this moment. Using a car seat properly can be an overwhelming task for parents, so I’m here to share a few tips with you to help you feel more confident in keeping your child safe in the car.
- Purchasing the Right Seat. There are many different types of car seats such as rear-facing, convertible, forward-facing, and booster seats. It is important to determine what fits the height and weight of your child and fits safely in the backseat of your car. It is recommended that young children stay in a rear-facing position in a car as long as possible. Using this website at the bottom of the home page, you can input your child’s height, weight, and birthdate and it will bring up a list of car seats that you can compare that will fit your child.
- Installing Car Seat. You can decide between using the seatbelt or the lower anchors to secure the seat in the backseat of your vehicle. It is not safe to use both at the same time. Refer to your car seat manual as well as your vehicle owner’s manual. Oftentimes the manufacturer of the car seat will have instructional installation videos on their website. Once installed the seat should not move more than one inch in any direction when pulled at the seat’s belt path. When you have installed your car seat you can take it to a car seat inspection center and an expert will be able to check to ensure it is installed correctly. Here are all of the locations in the state of Utah
- Properly Fastening Child in Seat. First, place your child in the car seat and make sure their back is flat against the seat without any items such as a blanket in between. Then check to see where the harness straps lie. The straps should fall at or below the shoulders for rear-facing children. For forward-facing children, the straps should fall at or just above the shoulders. Buckle and tighten the harness so you cannot pinch the harness strap at your child’s shoulders. Lastly, adjust the chest clip to be aligned with your child’s armpits. Never add anything to the seat that did not originally come with it such as harness padding. Make sure you remove any bulky clothing, such as a winter coat, before placing your child in the seat to ensure the belt fits better.
- Staying Up To Date. When you purchase your car seat, register it online so you will receive a notification if the seat is recalled. Check the label on the side of the seat regularly to ensure that your child still fits the height and weight requirements of the seat, if not then it is time to move up! Here is a link that will help you get started with registering your car seat.
These tips can help ensure you are using your car seat in a way that will keep your child safe while traveling, whether it is to the grocery store, or across the country. I hope you find these tips and resources helpful!