Carseat Safety, Part 1

Let’s talk carseats.  I’ve come a long way in understanding the function and importance of carseats.  I started this motherhood thing by borrowing a barely-used seat from a friend (without a manual of how to use it), and Clay installed it in the parking lot of the hospital an hour before we left.  She fit ok, but we kept wondering why, over time, the seatbelt seemed to get looser and the seat was literally sliding around our backseat!  Hmmm….. I suppose in our sleep-deprived state we weren’t thinking very clearly about how that meant our baby could DIE if we got in a wreck! 

Since then, I have learned a lot about carseat safety from other moms and the Internet.  Let’s just say that from what I’ve learned, and knowing my very nature as a researcher-type person, I’m kinda shocked that I didn’t look into this, oh, BEFORE she was born and I stuck her her in a seat! 

According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of children 1-14.  Statistically, over 80% (and 95% in some areas) of carseats are improperly used and installed.  It’s not rocket science, but it does take a little effort and reading the manual.  Before whipping-out the manual, here are a few things to check when you’re installing an infant carseat (not a comprehensive list):

  • ALWAYS install rear-facing in the backseat!
  • The straps should be at or below shoulder level and “snug as a hug.”  You should not be able to pinch any slack between your fingers.  However much slack is in the straps is the amount of space your baby will be flung at high speeds if you crash.
  • The chest clip should be at CHEST level.  Aim for the nipple-line, do NOT let it sag down to the belly.
  • Check your manual for the max weight/height limit, different brands vary, and your baby might have grown-out of his seat earlier than you expected!
  • Depending on your car, you might need to use a locking clip to secure the base.  (this is what we didn’t know and why our base kept sliding all over the seat!) http://www.carseatsite.com/lockingclips.htm
  • Seat should be installed on a 45 degree angle.
  • The base should move no more than an inch sideways along the beltpath.

A very helpful site for me has been www.car-safety.org.  It’s pretty comprehensive, has a million FAQ’s and many helpful links.  Please make sure you read your safety manual before installation, and keep its guidelines in mind through the entire time of use.  WAY too many babies are improperly strapped-in their seats, and it’s just an unnecessary risk. 

Stay tuned for Part 2. 

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5 responses to “Carseat Safety, Part 1

  1. i love your carseat info- i wish russ would read it! but i am the official car-seat installer in the family so i guess it’s alright. i was thrilled to see that you have joined the blogworld. be thankful about the 900 sq.ft. it’s a whole lot less to clean. i would LOVE a smaller house. but three kids it’s kinda hard. love you!

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  2. Um, I hate to admit this, but I need a locking clip. Our carseat has started doing the sliding thing out of nowhere! Actually, I think I’m going to take a trip to babiesrus today and look for a bigger convertible seat. Any recommendations??

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  3. I’m keeping this as a “FYI” for the future…because I know nothing about babies. Third graders? Yes. Fourth graders? Expert. Babies…holy smokes, I’m afraid of what little I know!

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  4. Courtney- Look into the links provided for info. on the locking clip. There’s a certain “test” you can do to see if your seatbelt is the kind that needs it, I think it’s mainly for older cars, but mine’s a 2001 and needs it. You could need it or you could just need to re-tighten your seatbelt. I’m gonna try to put a little info. on choosing a convertible seat in Part 2…stay tuned! =)

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  5. So glad to see you are a blogger now! Thanks for the very important information!

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