Here we are with part three of my list of car seat safety tips, and this will be the final part.
Snowsuits and Car Seats
Do you live in one of the southern states, or perhaps on the Pacific coast? Or are you like me and live to the north where it gets significantly colder? If you are, you’ve likely wondered about the combination of your infant or toddler car seat in conjunction with your child’s snowsuit. And there’s a very good chance there is cause to be concerned.
The problem is that harness straps are supposed to fit snugly against the baby’s chest and hips. And since it can get quite cold where you live, you naturally bundle your baby up as much as you can. The recommendation is to put your child in a lightweight jacket and hat. Then you put them in their car seat, harness them in snugly, and then wrap a blanket around them to keep them warm. Sounds great. And probably makes lots of sense if you live somewhere warmer than I do. I think this will take some trial and error until I get a perfect balance of keeping my child warm and keeping my child safe.
They Grow up so Fast — Part Two
In Part 2 of our safety tip articles, I talked about moving your child from a rear facing seat to a front facing seat too quickly. Now we need to talk about moving your child from their toddler car seat into a booster seat too soon. Until the child is tall enough, they need a booster seat so that the adult seat belts fit them correctly. The timing of when to switch your child from a car seat to a booster seat will depend to some extent on your car seat. Check the manufacturer’s recommendation for the maximum height and weight a child should be at to switch them to a booster seat. It will typically be around 80 pounds.
Proper Use of a Booster Seat
Now that it’s time to move your child into a booster seat, make sure you’re using it properly. You need to use both the lap and shoulder seatbelts, not just the lap belt. Positioning of the seatbelts is also critical. Make sure the lap belt does not sit across the abdomen, but lies low and snug across the upper thighs. The shoulder strap should lie diagonally across the middle of your child’s chest and shoulder. Please note that this applies to booster seats that have a back or don’t.
Transitioning to Seatbelts
Sometime between the ages of 8 and 12, it will be finally safe for your child to start using the vehicle seatbelts. To be a bit more precise, your child is safe to be strapped in using the seatbelts when they reach 4’9″, when they can sit with their knees bent at the edge of the seat, and when the seatbelts are able to be positioned properly, with the lap strap fitting snugly across the thighs and the shoulder strap resting across the middle of the chest and shoulder.