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Car Seats – What to Know For Safety
Children must ride rear-facing in a car seat until they are at least 1 year old and weigh at least 20 pounds. Parents are tempted to turn the car seat around before the child is old enough because it is difficult to see the child when they are rear-facing. The baby would also prefer to turn around so they could see Mom and Dad. You should resist doing this because it is not safe. Your babies neck is simply not strong enough to take the force caused by a car accident. So as difficult as it is, these guidelines must be followed.
Different Rear Facing Car Seats
There are 2 types of rear car seats. There are only child seats and convertible seats. Child car seats are small and have a handle to carry the seat. Many of these come with a stroller system where the seat can snap into. Child car seats cannot be installed in the front. Child car seats can only be used for up to 22 to 30 pounds depending on the seat. Each manufacture is different, so be sure to check their specifications. They are more often used for babies, because they can also be used as a carrier. The baby can be placed in them at the grocery store, doctor’s office or wherever you go. Be sure to keep your baby strapped in at all times to prevent them from slipping out.
Many child car seats come with a base for the car. You fix the base into the car and then you can just slide the car seat into it. This is nice because you don’t have to mess with the seat belts every time you put your baby in the car. You have the option to purchase additional bases to use if you have multiple cars. Some car seats can be inserted with or without the base. That might be something you want to look for. Then if you drive with someone else you won’t have to move the base out of your car to use in another car.
Convertible car seats can be used rear facing until the baby is old enough and then they can be turned around. This saved you money because you can use the seat for longer. These can be used for a number of years depending on the size of the child. They take up more space and are not meant to be taken in and out of the car. They are rated to be used backwards for higher height and weight, so they are great for babies who are bigger or taller.
Types of harness
The 5-point harness is the safest. They fix on both sides of the babies shoulders and hips. And then between the legs. These are used in infant only car seats and in convertible car seats.
The T-harness is a padded t-shaped or triangular-shaped shield attached at both shoulders and then between the legs. It would be considered a 3-point harness. These are used in infant only car seats and in convertible car seats.
The top shield has a padded tray-like shield that comes over the child’s head and rests in front of the baby. This only applies to the convertible car seat.
*Always make sure the car seat is securely installed. The harness should fit snugly around your baby.
*Never use a car seat in the front seat of a car with a passenger airbag. If it swells, it will cause serious injury to your baby or even death.
* Check the harness slots. They should be at or below your babies shoulders.
*If the seat belts in your car require locking clips, then make sure you use them. All car safety seats should come with locking clips. Check your vehicle manual. Most newer cars don’t need locking clips.
*If you are using a convertible seat in the rearward position, make sure the seat belt is routed through the correct belt path. Read the instructions that came with the car safety seat to be sure.
*If your vehicle was made after 2002, it may come with the LATCH system, which is used to secure car safety seats.
*Make sure the seat is at the right angle so your baby’s head doesn’t fall forward. Many seats have angle indicators or adjusters that can help prevent this. If your seat does not have an angle adjuster, tilt the car safety seat back by placing a rolled towel or other firm padding (such as a pool noodle) under the base near the point where the back and bottom of the vehicle seat meet.
Always use the manual that comes with the car seat. It’s the safety of your hand, so make sure you use the car seat in the exact way it was intended.
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