You know you need to be using a car seat for your baby: that’s the simple part. However, the CDC states that as many as 72% of parents are not using these important contraptions correctly. That means there’s a good chance you are one of them. Of course, it’s not intentional. You do everything you can to keep your precious cargo as safe as possible at all times. But car seats can be tricky. Just one little tweak on your usage can make the difference between life and death for your child. Here are the four most common mistakes that parents make when using car seats:
Using a Second-hand Car Seat
With all of the gear that babies need, it would seem like a good idea to try to find a car seat at a garage sale or take a hand-me-down from a friend. But this is a big no-no. If you need to cut expenses, do it on toys and clothes. Car seats should always be purchased new. For starters, they have expiration dates (usually about six years after being manufactured). After this time, the plastic and other materials are not guaranteed to act appropriately in an accident. Additionally, you don’t know the history of a used car seat: If it has been involved in a car crash, it should never be reused.
Not Tightening the Straps Enough
Babies are such delicate little creatures, so it is perfectly logical that you don’t want to hurt yours by making the straps too tight. However, if they are not snug enough, your baby might be able to wiggle out of them or get jerked around unnecessarily in an accident. The best way to know if the straps are tightened the right way is to try to pinch the straps that lay on your little one’s shoulders. If they fold, the straps are not tightened enough.
Improperly Placing the Chest Clip
According to its name, it sounds like the chest clip should go right across the middle of your child’s chest, right? Actually, no. The chest clip should be even with your bundle of joy’s armpits. At first, this will look too high, but that level is where your baby gets the most support from his ribcage. If you place it any lower, there is a good chance that it will penetrate your baby’s stomach in a crash.
Putting a Coat on Your Baby
When it’s cold outside it only makes sense to put your little one in a coat before heading outside; however, this can be a fatal mistake should you get in an accident on your outing. When your kid is wearing a winter coat in the car seat, you are given a false misconception that the straps are tight enough. In the case of a crash, this winter coat will quickly compress, resulting in straps that are way too loose to hold your child safely in the car seat. Since you still need to keep your baby warm, the best option is to bring the coat with you for when you arrive, but just use blankets across his lap while in transport.
There are many resources available when it comes to driver safety and the more you learn the safer you and your passengers will be on the road.