- 1 A comprehensive guide for car seat safety tips
- 3 1. Infant Car Seat Definition
- 4 2. Infant Car Seat Safety
- 5 3. Why Car Seats Expire
- 6 4. Car Seat Installation
- 7 5. Securing Your Child in a Car Seat
- 8 6. Important Resources for Car Seats and Safety
- 10 Infant Car Seat Safety
- 11 Why Car Seats Expire
- 12 Car Seat Installation
- 13 Securing Your Child in a Car Seat
- 14 Car Seat Installation and Buckling in Baby
- 15 Important Resources
A comprehensive guide for car seat safety tips
Car seat safety is such an important topic. A lot of car seats are not properly installed and so many children are not properly buckled in. That is scary!
Here you will learn about car seat safety, proper car seat installation, properly securing your child, important resources, and more.
Disclaimer: This is meant as general information, and is not any type of professional advice. If you have any questions or concerns, you should contact a professional in the appropriate field based on your question or concern. Please see my Disclaimer for more information.
Infant Car Seat Definition
An infant car seat is one of four categories of car seats. In general, an infant car seat is designed for babies from birth until about 2 years of age.
However, this may also depend on the size of your baby as every car seat has different weight and length limits.
Infant car seats are REAR-FACING. It is also illegal in many, if not all, states for your infant to be in a forward-facing car seat.
I’ll go more into laws by state later. Infant car seats consist of two parts: a base and a bucket style carrier.
Infant Car Seat Safety
All infant car seats in the United States should meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213.
It’s easy enough to check when you’re shopping online. Any car seat I’ve ever looked at online has certifications listed. For the most part, these are some of the certifications you will see:
- Meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 (FMVSS 213). This means the carrier was engineered and crash tested to meet or exceed US standard FMVSS 213.
- CSA Certified. This means that the carrier was tested and meets the requirements for industry standards in the US and Canada.
- Meets ASTM Standards, JPMA Certified. JPMA is the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. Each product is tested at an independent laboratory to ensure that it meets minimum government requirements based on safety and use.
Here are some other tips when it comes to infant car seat safety:
- According to the AAP, you should dress your infant in thin layers in the winter while in a car seat. It is difficult to secure the car seat harness over bulky clothes, and children can slip out of their car seats in a crash. Blankets, hats, and mittens can be used to provide extra warmth.
- Do NOT buy a used car seat if you do not know it’s history. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that car seats be replaced following a moderate or severe crash to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for your child.
- Do NOT use a car seat that is expired. There should be a label that has either an expiration date or the date when it was made. You can also check with the manufacturer in the event that you can’t find an expiration date.
- Your infant should be in the backseat, according to the AAP. In fact, the AAP recommends that all children younger than 13 should be in the back. Airbags can kill young children sitting in the front seat.
Why Car Seats Expire
Car seats actually do expire, and you shouldn’t use your car seat past it’s expiration date. Car seats are largely made of polypropylene, which is a form of plastic.
Plastic can degrade over time. It can expand and contract when exposed to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, which is typical for most car seats.
The expiration date of a car seat will vary by manufacturer, and should be printed on the label of your car seat. If not, contact the manufacturer.
Another thing to keep in mind is that technology also keeps advancing with more safety features for car seats.
Car Seat Installation
It is very important that car seat installation is done properly. Improper car seat installation prevents the car seat from protecting your child.
Make sure to carefully read the installation manual that comes with your car seat. The car seat should be installed in the backseat.
You should be able to install your car seat with seat belts or LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children).
LATCH was developed to help make car installation easier. It is required in almost all cars and car seats manufactured on or after September 1, 2002.
There should be at least two LATCH systems in your backseat, which is comprised of two small bars or anchors between the seat back and seat cushion.
I have a Honda Accord, and the LATCH systems are not visible, you have to stick your hand in between the seat back and seat cushion to find them. I have two LATCH systems for the window seats.
The car seat, once installed, should not be able to shift more than one inch from side to side or front to back.
If you are concerned about installing your car seat properly, there are resources to help you with this which I will mention later in this post.
Securing Your Child in a Car Seat
If your child is not buckled in properly, it prevents the car seat from protecting your child.
Here are some good car seat tips and safety guidelines for properly securing your child in a car seat:
- Pull the harness straps through the slots that are closest to your baby’s shoulders, but NOT above her shoulders. The harness straps should be AT or BELOW your baby’s shoulders in a rear-facing car seat.
- Loosen the harness straps before you put your baby in the car seat. There are multiple ways to do this, depending on the car seat you own. For mine, there is a button near the crotch strap that I can press down on while I pull on the straps.
- Place your baby into the car seat and make sure she is not slouching.
- Make sure the straps are laying flat against your baby before you buckle her in. Twisted straps will not protect your baby as well as straps that are laying flat.
- Snap the harness clip together and tighten the car seat harness. The harness should be snug against your baby, and there shouldn’t be any gaps.
- Make sure the harness clip is at armpit level. This helps to ensure that your baby will be held securely in place in the event of an accident.
Car Seat Installation and Buckling in Baby
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has certified technicians that will inspect your car free of charge, in most cases, and show you how to correctly install and use it. Visit their website to find a certified technician near you.
- Every state has different laws regarding car seats. Here is a great resource to find out what the law is in your state. The date in which the car seat law was last checked is listed for every state.
- There are a small number of recycling programs in the US that are available for car seats. Please check this site for more information!
- The NHTSA has a Car Seat Ease-of-Use ratings that can help you compare how easy it is to use certain car seat features.
RELATED: Best Infant Car Seat And Stroller
What car seat tips and safety guidelines do you follow? Please share in the comments below!