There’s a reason why car seats are often the bane of a parent’s life and the family car. There are so many possible mistakes to avoid, and these change as your child gets older. So let’s get to grips with car seat safety mistakes you’ll want to avoid as a parent.
Getting a used car seat without doing the necessary homework
First up, I’ll start with the question most people like to ask – is getting a used car seat safe? In most cases, the answer is probably yes, but you need to know exactly what to look out for to ensure car seat safety requirements are met.
Effectively you need to make sure you know the entire history of the car seat, that it was never in a crash, that all parts are in working order, that it comes with all the instructions, and is within the expiration date – usually found on the underside of the seat.
And finally, ensure it was never in a form of recall. That’s a lot of information gathering, and you’ll have to weigh up whether you can be confident on all of the above. And ultimately whether it’s therefore worth getting a used car seat.
Placing the car seat in the front
No no no! Although it may be tempting to have your child next to you in sight, it is vital their car seat is placed in the back. The reason for this is that if you’re in a crash and the car seat is in the front, the airbag will inflate and hit the back of your child’s head if in a rear facing car seat. If they are in a forward facing car seat they can also be harmed by an airbag.
Installing the car seat incorrectly
Although it may be tempting to think you know what you’re doing and install your child’s car seat without following the manufacturer’s instructions – don’t. Watch the below videos for guidance on how to install a back and front facing car seat.
Moving to a forward facing car seat too soon
I hear you – wouldn’t it be nice to have your child face you. However, riding rear facing is now recommended for as long as possible. The UK law states that the seat can be rear or front facing only if your baby is older than 15 months. This is because when your child reaches 15 months, their neck will be stronger and it’ll now be safe to mount their car seat facing forward. So consider the option of convertible car seats to cater for your little one’s needs as they grow. You can read more about why it’s important to keep your child in a rear facing car seat for as long as possible here.
Letting outer wear and blankets get in the way
Your child’s coat or blanket can get in the way of harness straps fitting correctly, so either remove them totally or place a coat or blanket over the straps instead. N.B. you also need to be mindful of whether they need these elements in a car to prevent from overheating.
Moving to a booster seat too soon
It may be tempting to move your child to a booster seat as they grow more independent, but the law states that you can only sit them in a backless booster seat when they weigh about 15 kg, which is usually around the age of three and a half, and not before.
As I said above, car seats can be a baffling area with so many safety aspects to take into consideration. I hope the above points on car seat safety mistakes to avoid helps fill in some of the gaps of what to look out for.
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