Continuing on from the car seat safety tips that I started in part one of this series, let’s discuss some more of the things you need to be aware of when it comes to your infant or toddler car seat. At least about how they pertain to installation.
I know a lot of us hate to read instruction manuals. But in this case, I’d definitely say better safe than sorry. Closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to install your new car seat, making sure it’s secured tightly and only capable of 1 inch of movement from side to side or front to back.
When dealing with an infant only, or convertible car seat that’s currently in the rear facing position, keep the following in mind. Use the harness slots that are just at or below your baby’s shoulders. You also want to check the placement of the harness or chest clip. Make sure that it’s even with your child’s armpits and not across the abdomen or neck. You also want to make sure that the harness lays flat against their chest and hips and that there is no slack.
Also, make sure you check the manual for the correct position of the car seat’s carrying handle.
The Proper Reclining Position
I’ve mentioned somewhere else, how horrible it is when you see a baby in a car seat slumped in an unnatural position, with their head flopped forward. When the car seat is in a rear facing position, make sure that you recline the seat as per the manufacturer’s instructions. This should correct the slumping problem. If for whatever reason, that doesn’t work you can also tightly roll up a towel and place it under the seats front edge to help find the perfect angle.
They Grow up so Fast.
We are all anxious for that time we can turn the seat around into a forward facing position so that we can see the baby’s face in our rear view mirror. Just don’t do it before you should. The recommendation is that your child remains in the rear facing position until they’re either two years of age or the maximum weight, which is often around 35 pounds, and the maximum height. It’s only at this point that you can switch the car seat so that it’s facing forward.
When you do switch, follow these guidelines. If possible install the car seat in the center back seat, following the manufacturer’s install instructions, using either the car’s seat belts or the LATCH system. Always use the tether strap, which is a strap that hooks to the top of the seat and also attaches to an anchor in your vehicle’s seat. This provides added stability. Also make sure that the harness fits snugly against your child. Make any adjustments that are necessary and verify they are threaded at or above your child’s shoulders.