According to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, child-safety seats decrease the risk of death by up to 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for 1- to 4-year-olds when used correctly. However, car seats are confusing and many parents find it hard to use it right.
Therefore, we’ve compiled 8 of the most common car seat mistakes faced by both new parents and parents. Read ’em below:
1. Placing the car seat in the wrong direction
While safety experts say children should ride in rear-facing car seats until at least age 2 or as long as the child fits comfortably in the seat, parents should also refer to their country’s child safety law. Besides that, the car seat should be placed in the back seat, away from active airbags.
2. Using the car seat outside of the car
A car seat is a safety device to be used in a car, not for use as a general seat in your home. As Mayo Clinic explains, sitting in a car seat for lengthy periods poses health risks. It affect your child’s ability to breathe, contribute to the development of a flat spot on the back of your baby’s head, and worsen gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
3. Getting a used car seat without checking it thoroughly
A car seat is one of the most expensive purchases for new parents, so we totally understand if you’re considering a used car seat for your child. However, there are a few things you should check before getting one, such as manufacture date and model number, visible damage or missing parts, and more. Remember, if you don’t know the car seat’s history, don’t use it!
4. Low chest clip positioned
The chest clip is a little piece of plastic on the car seat harness and should be placed at your little one’s armpit level. Neck injuries could result if it’s too high; stomach trauma if it’s too low.
5. Not removing your child’s heavy outerwear during the colder months
Many parents are unaware that bulky outerwear can prevent harness straps from securing your child. When a child is wearing a winter coat, the straps are actually dangerously loose – even though it may feel like they are strapped snugly into the car seat. In fact, this rule also applies to adults. Experts say adults shouldn’t wear their winter coats when they’re behind the wheel or riding in a car.
6. Harness straps in the wrong position
As your little one grows, you’ll need to adjust the harness straps’ location in infant seats, convertible seats, and combination seats. According to Cars.com, a child in a rear-facing seat should have the harness straps positioned at or below the shoulders, while a child in a forward-facing seat should have the straps placed at or above the shoulders.
7. Skipping the manual
We know, we know – manuals are boring! But when it comes to the safety of your child, you should really consider taking time off to read the manuals of the car seat and your car. In case you didn’t know, there’s a child safety section in your car’s owner’s manual. So be sure to cross check both manuals when installing your child’s car seat.
8. Using the wrong car seat
Last but not least, you should buy a car seat that fits your child’s height, weight, and age. Do keep in mind that children have outgrown a car seat when they reach its height or weight limit.