One of the best pieces of advice I got when I was a new mom, was “trust your instincts. Nobody knows your baby better than you.” That one comment made me feel so much better about being a mom, especially when I had all kinds of opinions flying in, from all directions, on how I should raise my kids.
What 4 years and 2 kids have taught me, is that the advice I received was very much true! We all will develop our own parenting style, and sometimes it even differs from kid to kid!
On the flip side though, there are definitely a few “golden truths” that apply to any and all parents. Things like keeping your child healthy and safe 🙂
So in today’s post, I want to talk about one of those “golden truths” – the proper way to buckle a carseat! I saw on the news, just this morning, that 70% of carseats are buckled or installed improperly. That’s crazy! But I believe it. I see it all the time. And it’s not because the parent doesn’t care, they just don’t know any better! So let’s try and change that, shall we?
1. The chest clip. The most common mistake I see is a misplaced chest clip. If placed too low, it can cause damage to internal organs upon impact. It also creates a large opening, making it possible for a child to be ejected from their seat during a crash. If placed too high, it can cause a serious neck injury.
The chest clip is supposed to be placed on the strongest part of the chest, reducing risk for injury. The top of the clip should line up with your child’s armpit, like so…
Okay, now that we’re chest clip pros, what about this next picture? Can you tell what’s wrong..?
Yep, the straps aren’t tight enough!
2. The straps. If you can pinch them with your fingers, they are too loose! You don’t want them so tight that it hurts your child, but as snug as you can get them, with your child still being comfortable. I was told (by my health department) that I should be able to fit 2 fingers under the straps, but not much more than that.
Also, make sure that the straps don’t get twisted (in the front OR the back), and they are threaded through the right holes. When the carseat is rear-facing (which it should be until the child is at least 2), the straps should be at shoulder level or just below. When it’s forward facing, they should be at shoulder level or just above.
I’d recommend buying a seat with front adjusting straps, it makes it much easier to get the right snugness, without having to pull the seat out and adjust things from behind!
3. No after-market accessories. As cute as the fluffy strap covers may be, they just aren’t safe. It’s recommended that you shouldn’t use any parts or accessories that didn’t actually come with the carseat.
4. Don’t dress your kids in bulky clothing. I know this can be hard in the winter when it drops to 10 below, and your little one looks like a marshmallow in their ginormous winter coat. But puffy clothes mean the straps aren’t tightened quite right, and can lead to safety issues. It’s much better to dress them in normal clothes, and cover them with a blanket while in the car.
5. Never use a carseat that’s been in an accident. Once a seat has been in a car crash, it’s a goner! That makes buying a used carseat pretty risky business, and I would definitely only do it if I knew the person.
If you have any questions at all about buckling your child or installing a carseat, you can head over to your local health department or fire department, and they can help you out! Jonny and I did this when we first had Sophie, and they came out to the car and checked everything out and talked us through it. I highly recommend every new parent do this, even if you think you’re doing everything right! Trust me. your child’s safety is worth the 10 minutes 🙂
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