There is something of great importance but many mothers do not take it seriously. Research proves that 70% of the child car seats are not always properly installed. This is bad news since we know that when properly installed, the car seats offer a lot of security, protection… in the event of a crash. Car seat safety guidelines should be known by every parent and must never be overlooked in anyway.
First of all, understand that not all the car seats will be able to fit in every car. Therefore, before buying a car seat, you must do proper research to know which car seat is exactly needed and which one will serve you without as much challenges.
To ensure that the car seat you have bought has properly been secured:
Quick Content Navigation
- The LATCH System
- Techniques Used in Installing Infant car seats
- Important Tips
- Securing your Child
- Installation of the Forward – Facing & Booster Seats
- Forward-Facing Car Seats
- Booster Seats
- Using the installed car seat
- Getting more help
- Shopping for Car Seats
The LATCH System
The Lower Anchors & Tethers for Children, shortened as LATCH, is an installation method where car seat anchors are tethered to the metallic latches or hooks that are found on the back of seats of cars manufactured in 2002 or after.
In 2014, a new NHTSA regulation took effect where all car seat manufacturers are mandated to inform the consumers of the weight limits of the latch systems. the use of your car’s seat belt need to be employed to secure the car seat When the total weight of your child and the car seat reaches the weight limit (65 pounds) of the latch system.
Techniques Used in Installing Infant car seats
The first thing that has to be mentioned is that consumers should always read the safety procedures and the instruction manuals before doing anything as far as car seat installation is concerned. This is because there are different varying techniques used in installation.
Below are some of the main infant car seat types:
- Rear-facing seats: These are recommended for all children below the age of twelve months
- Convertible car seats: These seats have been designed with the capability of being modified as the young one grows. It may come with more restraining gadgets and straps.
When you are installing a car seat, it should be:
- Installed in the back seat
- You need to ensure that the seatbelt tethers are very tight. The must not be able to move the entire seat, any harness or strap by more than a single inch
- Ensure no twists are on the seat belt tethers
- Be sure to put the car seat’s base at the most appropriate recline angle. A good number of car seats have angle indicator and in-built adjuster in their designs
- In the event that the car seat was accompanied with a base, ensure that when the car seat is being attached, the carrier handle has to be out of the way
- You might have to employ the use of a locking clip in the event that you have a car that was manufactured before 1997. The locking clip is:
- For the creation of a fixing length of webbing on the shoulder/lap belt especially where there lacks any other way of locking the belt
- This locking clip has to be positioned not more than an inch long from the latch plate
Note: under the NHTSA recommendations, a child should use the rear facing car seats until they get to exceed the height or weight recommendations of the seat.
Securing your Child
Start by reading your car seat’s requirements and recommendations about fastening the child in the seat. When you are securing the young one in the car seat, always ensure that:
- The back and bottom of your child are flat on the car seat
- The straps of the carrier are tight & the harness clip is put even with the armpits or shoulder of the baby
- Buckle up the child in the seat before you can cover them with blankets and coats.
- Ensure that the chest clip and the harness are buckled
- The straps should be snug with not more than a finger slack
- The harness strap should have no twists
There are times when there may be a gap in between your child’s groin and the buckle. In such an event, place a diaper or a rolled washcloth in between for a more secure and safety fit.
Installation of the Forward – Facing & Booster Seats
After getting to the rear facing car seat limits, the car seat they use are now supposed to start facing forward. Eventually, a booster seat will then replace it. Once again, before one starts the installation of any car seat, ensure that you read the instructions by the manufacturer in the user manual.
Forward-Facing Car Seats
During the installation of these forward facing seats:
- They have to be installed in the back seat
- Let the car seat be secured with a LATCH till that time when the total weight of your child and the seat reach the recommended weight limit.
- In the event that you lack a LATCH system, let the seatbelt be carefully thread through the belt path
- In the event that you are securing the car seat with the seat belts of your car, the seatbelt straps are to be tight with the car seat not being able to move for more than an inch
Video instruction on using an all-in-one car seat forward-facing with lower anchors and tether.
Booster seats are provided for those children who have begun outgrowing the car seats. The main booster seat types are:
- No-back booster seat: This must be used with either a shoulder or a lap belt which is used to fasten it. A headrest is also fastened above the child’s ear
- High – back booster seat: the shoulder and or lap belts must be used in fastening these booster seats as well. However, these seats can be used without a headrest
- Combination: this is a booster seat that can undergo modification as the little one grows
During the booster seat installation:
- The child has to seat in the booster seat before it can be fastened
- The seat belt needs to be pulled across the child’s body after which it is buckled up
- The seat belt is then adjusted so that it can snugly fit across the little one’s thighs and not the stomach
- The shoulder belt is then adjusted for it to snugly rest across the little one’s chest
- Check the seatbelt periodically to ensure that it is well fit
- Never install a booster car seat in front of an air bag or an active airbag. Deactivate the air bag before installing your baby car seat.
Video instruction on using a combination car seat as a high-back booster seat.
Using the installed car seat
- Ensure that you are aware of how the harness system does work. The harness adjustment lever is the one used to either loosen or tighten the straps. Without the idea of how these levers work, you may not be able to give the little ones the maximum protection needed. In addition, you may also not be able to free them from the seat when the straps have been so much tightened until they are uncomfortable.
- Always adjust the harnesses so that they are snug. If in between your fingers you are able to pinch any among those harness materials, then the harness is too loose and should be tightened. Your baby needs to be in one position. They should be in such a way that they can’t roll or move up and down. Increase the security levels of the little ones by adjustment of the harnesses till they are snug.
- In case of a plastic harness clip being at rest across the chest of your baby, ensure you keep it at the armpit levels so that they can hold the shoulder straps in their place. The straps must always lie flat and so be sure to straighten them in the event that they are twisted
- After buckling up your little one, always tug on all the straps so as to ensure that they are secure. Blankets, rolled-up diapers or even towels are places around the newborns so as to keep their snug in the seat. A neck, body and head support can also be bought for securing your baby.
- In case the head of your infant flops forward, level the seat by wedging some firm support such as a folded towel under the baby’s head. If your car seat has been designed with a level indicator, this indicator can be used in adjustment of the seat’s recline normally between 30 & 45 degrees for the baby’s head comfortable resting position
Getting more help
So many parents have a big problem when it comes to car seat installation. In fact, as mentioned above, more than 70% do not know how to do it. This is quite a big number in deed. Child safety experts together with manufacturers recommend that the new parents should sign up for some of these car installation trainings and workshops. These classes normally take just a small investment of time-normally one hour and the safety of your baby together with your peace of mind will be assured.
The NHTSA has opened inspection stations that are full of certified technicians who are trained to install these seats. They will give you some lessons on how to properly install these seats. The car seat safety inspection stations are enumerated in the NHTSA website. In case you are searching online for help, then you can see
Seatbelts are there to make your child more secure and there is the need of keeping your little ones more secure. Improper use may make the seatbelts either be of less significance or even dangerous. To properly use seatbelts:
- Ensure that the shoulder strap is adjusted to lie across the shoulder of the child and passes at the middle of the baby’s chest and not the face, neck etc. On the other side, the lap belt needs to be crossing the hips and not the stomach.
- The shoulder strap must never be put behind the back or under the arm of the little one
- The same seatbelt must never be used for securing more than a single child. The rule is a single child, a single seatbelt.
- Let children under the age of thirteen, seat on the vehicle’s back seat. This is normally the safest place for the young ones to be in a vehicle.
Let the seatbelts be worn whenever persons are in the vehicle. You must always teach the young ones to buckle up their seatbelts whenever they get in to a car. The best way of teaching them is by example. Always buckle up whenever you are in the car.
Shopping for Car Seats
There are some important tips that you need to put in mind when shopping for car seats:
- First and foremost, it’s worth knowing that there is no car seat that can be termed as “Safest” or “Best”. The best or rather safest seat is that which properly fits your young one and is well installed ready for use. It must also properly fit well in your vehicle and must properly be used on your trips. That’s the best car seat for your baby.
- Never use the price of the seat as the first factor of consideration. This should come among the very last in the list. When it comes to car seats, the price of the seat doesn’t dictate the effectiveness of the model. A higher price may end up being less safe and more difficult to use than a cheaper one.
- Avoid using used seats in case you aren’t sure of the history of that seat. Never go for a car seat which:
- That’s too old. Check out with the seat manufacturer for recommendation on the number of years their car seats should be used. Then look on the label of the seat you are buying to see when it was manufactured and make a decision
- Never go for seats that have any form of visible cracks
- Car seats that lack labels with the model number and date of manufacture. These are what will help you know whether the seats have been recalled or not.
- Seats that are coming without instructions. These are important as you need to know how to install and use the car seat.
- One that’s missing some of the parts. Used car seats in most cases will come without some valuable parts. Confirm that you can source these parts before you can decide to buy a car seat that lacks them
- Don’t go for the car seats that were recalled. Contact the NHTSA or the manufacturer to know whether the seat in question has been recalled or not.
The use of car seats is an important way of ensuring that your child is safer and more secure in the car. Reading car seat safety guidelines gives you an understanding on how to choose the best product for your child. In addition, you will be able to install and to properly use your car seats for the benefits of your little ones.