Deciding on the right car seat is critical for your child’s safety but sometimes parents can overlook small details that could literally be the difference between life and death. Here are some helpful hints on choosing the right car seat but more importantly utilizing it as safely as possible.
Do Your Homework
When you are shopping for a car seat don’t make your decision based on a salesperson’s recommendation, online retailer reviews, or parenting Websites. Go directly to Consumer Reports and do your research there. No offense to your best friend’s recommendation, but for a decision like this you need expert advice. If you are looking to buy a used car seat, even if it is highly recommended, there are several things you need to look into. Does the item come with instructions or at least a label showing the manufacture date and model number? If you have this information make sure that particular model has never been recalled and that it has not expired or is more than six years old. Make sure the car seat has no visible damage or missing parts and try to find out if it was ever in a moderate or severe car accident.
The safest place to put a car seat, especially if you only have one, is in the center of the back seat if a good fit is possible. Not only does this keep the seat away from doors to minimize the risk of injuries in a crash, it keeps your child away from active air bags. If the car seat is placed in the front seat and an air bag inflates this can cause serious or even fatal injuries. If you are ever travelling with a child in a car that only has one row of seats, deactivate the front air bags or install a switch to prevent the deployment of air bags if you are involved in an accident. Before installing the car seat read the manufacturer’s instructions and the section on car seats in your vehicle’s user manual. Also be certain to properly buckle your child up in the car seat as this prevents moving into a position that can be physically harmful.
A car seat is not a crib and was never meant to be a substitute for one. A 2009 study showed that sitting upright in a car seat might compress the chest of a newborn leading to lower oxygen levels. Another danger is an infant holding their head at an angle that can block airways resulting in no oxygen and death. Even a mild airway obstruction can have serious effects such as impaired development. Because of this it is critical to make sure the car seat is at a correct incline so your baby’s head isn’t flopping forward and keep your child’s body from slouching with rolled baby blankets. Even if you follow these protocols a baby must always be supervised in a car seat and it should never be used for a purpose other than keeping your baby safe in a car.
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