As I put every ounce of my weight on the car seat – pushing and pulling – sweating in the noonday sun I determined installing a car seat was impossible. My knees were banged up, my blood was rising, and I had reached the end of my patience. Thankfully my lovely, even-headed wife took over and at least got the seat secured in the car…that’s when we learned about the local police department’s car seat safety checks…there was light at the end of the tunnel!
If you’re a parent, grandparent, or caregiver to a child you know the struggle is real. No matter what YouTube instructional video you watch or owner’s manual you read – installing a child safety seat in a car is not an easy task. But there IS help available! This week is National Child Passenger Safety Week so we wanted to share the blessing of knowledge with any soon to be parent the help that is available to them!
1. Choose The Right Seat
Step into any baby store and you’ll instantly be overwhelmed by all of the options for your car and your baby. Typically there are 4 types of car seats to choose from:
- Rear Facing Car Seats are designed to hold your newborn up to about age 12 months. You still want to keep your child facing backwards as long as they are physically able – usually around 2-3 years
- Forward Facing Car Seats are the next step for your child. You want to keep your child facing forward in a harness until they reach the car’s requirement for the use of a seat belt.
- Once your child outgrows the car seat but still doesn’t reach the seat belt requirement it’s time to look into a booster seat.
- Finally when your child has reached the proper height they can begin to wear a seat belt only. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.
Thankfully there are many manufacturers out there who provide all-in-one or convertible car seats that contain all 4 seats in one unit!
2. Make Sure It’s Installed CORRECTLY
Instruction manuals can be confusing and YouTube videos can be simplistic so make sure you’ve done everything you can to ensure your child’s seat is installed correctly. EVERY car seat is different! THEN make sure you get it inspected at a local law enforcement, fire house, or EMS unit. They’re more than happy to inspect your car seat and make sure it is installed correctly. Usually it only takes a few minutes!
3. Register Your Car Seat
This step is often overlooked by parents – it’s not an advertising gimmick. You want to register your car seat so you will be notified about ANY recalls or defects found by the manufacturer. So don’t throw away that card with the box – it’s important. There are also resources online to help you track down the proper place to register your seat.
And there are TONS of other resources online for you to make sure you know everything there is to know about child passenger safety:
- Florida Department of Transportation
- Georgia Office of Highway Safety
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- Safe Kids Worldwide
- American Academy of Pediatrics
And with it being National Child Passenger Safety Week there are lots of extra events and opportunities around the community for you to check out and make sure your child is safe in the car! I recently got to talk with Jody Henderson of the Tallahassee Police Department who inspected our car seat for our son! Check it out!