Although putting a baby in a car seat may seem like an easy task to some, it can be quite difficult when you actually do it. A lot of parents make common car seat mistakes when putting their child in car seats before going for a ride. These mistakes can cost you your child’s life. Make sure you avoid these common mistakes to ensure your child’s safety.
1 - Putting your child in the wrong position – This is the most common mistake that parents make, when they don’t understand which position is safest for their child. New born babies and infants should be kept in rear facing position unless they weight 20 pounds at least, after which they can be changed to sit in a car seat which is installed in forward facing position, like a convertible car seat.
2 - Moving with the baby in the front passenger seat – Kids less than 12 years of age should be allowed to sit in the back seat instead of bringing them to the passenger seat. Moving your child to the front passenger seat before time can be dangerous, as most accidents happen head-on, which cause maximum harm to anyone travelling in the passenger seat.
3 - Putting the straps in the wrong position or allowing them to stay loose – If the child’s car seat harness straps are allowed to stay too loose, they will not secure the child in place in case an accident occurs. Similarly, if the straps are attached in the wrong position, without reading and following instructions mentioned in the instructions manual, they will not provide safety to your child.
4 - Not installing the seat correctly – Most baby car seats come with LATCH system which can be easily installed in place. Once the seat has been installed, it should not move more than an inch from its position. Anything more than that means that the seat is not tightly installed in place.
5 - Incorrect angle of the seat – Almost all baby car seats come with a recline angle to allow you to make your child comfortable in the baby car seat. The correct angle is extremely important for smaller kids so that they do not flop forward. The seat should not be angled more than 45 degrees from vertical position as that can cause the baby to be thrown out from between the straps headfirst.
6 - Incorrect harness straps – The harness straps need to be at different levels for different seat positions. For example, in rear-facing position, the straps should be just below the shoulder level. Similarly, in forward facing position, the straps should come through the upper most slots. The harness retainer clip should also be in place, ideally at the child’s armpit level. Instructions should be strictly followed as specified in the manual which comes with your baby car seat.
7 - Dressing the baby heavily – You should never dress your baby heavily before securing in the baby car seats harness. A blanket or coat strapped in to the harness with the baby can cause the baby to breathe poorly, as they make the harness too tight. Always put a blanket separately on top of the baby after strapping him or her in the car seat.
8 - Misusing your child’s car seat – Always remember, that there are three kinds of car seats which you will need for your baby, starting from an infant car seat. This car seat is designed for new born babies and can be used till your child weighs 20 pounds. After that, you need to shift to a convertible car seat and use it till your child reaches the age of 1 year. For toddlers and kids above 1 year, you should use a booster car seat and can continue using it till your child weighs 100 pounds, or 10 years of age.
9 - Using Car Seat Accessories – Extra accessories like a baby toy bar should not be used when travelling in the vehicle as they can act as projectiles and cause unnecessary harm to the child.
10 - Installing the baby car seat on the front passenger seat – This is a serious mistake which parents do, especially moms, so they can take the baby out from the driver’s side without having to open the back doors of the vehicle. Vehicles which come with an airbag at the passenger side can harm the child when they inflate. Airbags at the back-seat are different and do not cause harm to the installed car seats.