Last Update October 27th, 2016 Convertible car seat safety is a critical aspect for every parent to master. There are many mistakes that we make as parents when we install or use infant seats. This article gives Car seat guidelines for 2017 that will ensure the safety of your child.
It is important to ensure the safety of your child during travel, but it becomes difficult to use and adjust the seat as the child is growing. The following are some of the mistakes you may be guilty of and what you can do to ensure you are using the seat safely.
Car Seat Recommendations and Mistakes
Acquiring a Used Car Seat without Due Diligence
As a parent seeking a used car seat for your kid, it is important to ensure it:
- Has clear instructions and a manufacturers label indicating the model number and date of manufacture.
- Isn’t among recalled car seat lists.
- Is no older than 6 years and is not expired
- Has no missing parts or does not show any visible damage
- Has never been in a severe or moderate crash
- If the convertible car seat’s history is unavailable, do not use it.
Wrong Positioning of the Convertible Car Seat
The safest position for the convertible car seat is the backseat. It should be positioned in the middle of the car to ensure the least proximity to active airbags. Placing the infant seat on the front seat places the child in danger in the instance of the activation of the air bag. There is a high probability that the airbag will hit the rear facing convertible car seat and throw the child forward potentially causing a severe injury or worse. While a forward facing seat offers less danger, the child could still be injured by the deployment of larger airbags.
In instances in which the car you travel in has only a single row of seats, it is advisable to either put in place a power switch to deactivate airbag deployment in the instance of a crash or to totally deactivate the front air bags.
Placing the car seat in the center of row of seats also minimizes the risk of injury in the instance of a crash.
Making the Car Seat a Replacement Crib
A convertible car seat or an infant car seat is exclusively an item for travel. In no circumstances should you convert the car seat into a replacement crib at home. A study conducted by Journal Pediatrics established that a child who is left in an upright sitting position may have lesser oxygen levels due to chest compression. Such obstruction while the child is in the car seat may severely impair the development of the child or even cause sudden death.
The child that is left in the car seat may have a higher probability of developing a flat spot on the back of the head and possibly worsened GERD disease. Additionally, an improperly used car seat increase the chance that the child may fall and get injured if the seat is on an elevated place such as a counter top. While it is critical to strap your child into the convertible car seat during travel, ensure that they are removed and placed in a crib as soon as you reach your destination.
Faulty Installation or Strapping Up of the Child
Prior to installing a car seat, read the vehicle owner’s manual on car seats and the manufacturer instruction on your particular convertible car seat. Ensure that after installation the car seat does not move more that 1 inch from back to front or from side to side.
For parents having a convertible car seat or an infant only seat in the rear facing position it is critical to keep the following in mind:
- Make use of the harness slots as set out in the manufacturer manually. These will usually be below or at the child’s shoulder.
- Align the chest clip or harness with the kid’s armpits rather than the neck or belly. Ensure the harness and straps over the child’s hips and chest are flat and are not slack.
- Align the carrying handle of the seat according to the owners manual provided with the car seat.
Incorrect Recline Angle of the Convertible Car Seat
When installing the convertible car seat in the rear facing position follow the manufacturer’ manual to ensure that the child’s head is not flopping forward. Many seats such as the Britax come with adjuster and angle indicators. A tightly rolled towel under the front edge of the seat will also come in handy in achieving the desired angle. You want a baby seat that has angle and adjuster indicators making it easier to correctly install the car seat for utmost baby comfort
To ensure the child does not slouch, use tightly rolled blankets beside the child. If there is still some slouching that you can’t get rid of a rolled washcloth between the crotch strap and the baby will do the trick. Nevertheless, it is critical not to use any other additional products unless they are recommended by the manufacturer or they come with the convertible car seat.
Moving to a Forward Facing seat Before the Child is Ready
The urge to move the child to a forward facing car seat is usually s strong in parents. We want to see the child face giving us their smile in our rear view. Nevertheless, it is advisable that the child rides in the rear facing mode until they are two years of age regardless of height or weight. As such I would advise that you purchase a convertible car seat which can be used in both the forward and rear facing modes. It also has has the advantage of having higher height and weight limits as compared to an infant car seat. Conversely you could switch to a convertible from the infant seat after the child is two years old. The safest convertible car seat will usually have the 5 point harness and have the LATCH system.
When making the switch to a convertible car seat ensure to adhere to the following:
- Install the convertible car seat according to the instructions in the owner manual using the LATCH system or the seat belt.
- Use the tether strap – this is a strap hooked on top of the seat and anchored on the vehicle that gives enhanced stability.
- Position the harness straps so that they are above the shoulders of the child. Make sure the harness is tight.
Moving Too Soon to a Booster Seat
For older children a booster seat is critical since the adult safety belt fits better with it. The appropriate age for switching to a booster seat is when the child is about 18-36 kilograms or about 40-40 pounds. However, keeping the child in a car seat with a harness for a s long as possible is recommended.
Incorrect Usage of a Booster Seat
Booster seats should be used with both the shoulder and lap belt as opposed to only a lapbelt. Ensure that the lapbelt is tight and low on the child’s upper thighs while the shoulder belt should cross the child’s shoulder and chest at the midpoint.
Backless booster seats just like normal seats have to be used with both the shoulder and lap belt. For parents with vehicles lacking headrests or that have low seat backs consider high back booster seats appropriate for the child’s weight and height. This will protect the child’s neck and head in the instance of a crash.
Switching to the Vehicle Safety Belt Too Early
- They are 4 foot 9 or taller
- The child is comfortable sitting with bent knees on the edge of the seat with their back on the back of the seat for a whole trip.
- The shoulder belt is on the middle of the child’s chest and shoulder and the lap belt is tight and flat on the child’s upper thighs as opposed to being on the face or neck.
Ensure the shoulder belt is not tucked behind on the child’s back or behind their arm. If the child is under 13 years, they are safest riding in the back seat.
For any questions or help regarding the installation of a car seat or convertible car seat safety laws, or car seat guidelines 2017 attend local inspection events or clinics. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can be useful for finding out the nearest convertible car seat inspection station.
Check out our top rated convertible car seat reviews and the ultimate car seat comparison guide.
Keeping Loose Items in the Car
Any object or even seemingly harmless items can become dangerous projectiles in case you are involved in a collision. You need to ensure that the car particularly the backseat area is completely free of anything that may become a projectile including objects such as laptop bags or windshield scrapers. Secure everything that you can and if possible get a backseat organizer to make the car a safe place for your baby.
Not Reading the Car Seat Manual
Are the type of parent that believes that simply because you have used car seats before you know everything about them. Or do you take the knowledge from a previous car seat and apply it on a different brand. It is always important to read the owner manual of your specific brand of car seat if you are to keep your child safe. Different car seats will have different weight and height limits, installation procedures, warranties, and features. As such keeping and reading the manual is very important regardless of whether you are a first time parent or a veteran in the use of car seats.