Car Seat Safety: Get it Right!

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I am by no means a car seat safety expert. Really I am just a mom who has done her research. And even though I am not an expert, I will be the first to tell you when I don’t think something is right with your car seat. No, I am not going to be snooping through your vehicle. But if I see a photo with your child in a car seat, in the vehicle, and it is not correct, I am not going to be afraid to speak up. Or if we are in the parking lot together and I see your child incorrectly sitting in a car seat, I am going to say something.

Why?

Because your child’s safety is important to me. I would feel guilty if you drove off and something terrible happened to that child because I didn’t speak up.

Don’t take it personal. Learn how to speak up to other’s too. Let’s help parents out and be car seat safety advocates!

The Facts

According to Team Educators for Child Safety (TECHS) in Pennsylvania, 9 out of 10 car seats are improperly installed. I didn’t do further research outside of my state, but I bet this is pretty accurate across the country. Which is sad.

Do you know how many times I have heard from parents that they just “didn’t know” that something with their car seat was right or wrong? That is why I am here today to give you the rundown of the basics of car seat safety and to point you in the right direction to get assistance with installation.

Know Your State Laws

All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have laws requiring children to be restrained while riding in cars. Some states now require kids to ride in appropriate car seats or booster seats until 9 years old. Here in Pennsylvania, we just had a new law come into effect that says children must be rear-facing in their car seat until age 2. This infographic below is a good representation of how to see which car seat may be best for you child. But, like I said, laws vary by state so please check with your state laws.

 

All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have laws requiring children to be restrained while riding in cars. Some states now require kids to ride in appropriate car seats or booster seats until 9 years old.

Do Your Homework

There are so many research options out there to figure out which car seat is best for your child. Take your time when purchasing your first car seat for your newborn. Talk with your friends, family, co-workers and even people you see with children about their car seats. Want to know what car seats I have owned for my children so far? (affiliate links)

Check out car seats online but then physically go to the store and get your hands on the car seats you liked to learn how they work. ASK QUESTIONS and BE INFORMED!

Once you find the seat that is perfect for your child, read your car seat’s manual from front to back. It will tell you the minimum and maximum height and weight restrictions. Notice age is not listed there. Children’s heights and weighs can differ greatly at any age. My daughter is really tall for her age and has always been in the 100th percentile for both height and weight. My son, well, he was obviously teeny tiny when he was born, but now he sticks to about the 50th percentile. My daughter met car seat MAXIMUMS before she was a specific age. And I emphasize maximum because you should stick to those rather than the minimum. Why waste your money on a car seat when you don’t use it for its extended use period?

All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have laws requiring children to be restrained while riding in cars. Some states now require kids to ride in appropriate car seats or booster seats until 9 years old.

Get Your Car Seat Inspected and Installed Properly

Certified technicians will inspect your child car seat, in most cases, free of charge – and show you how to correctly install and use it. Many police stations and fire departments have events that open their doors to the community to get your car seats looked at.

The kids and I took a trip to our local police station and had our car seats checked out. You can find your nearest location by checking out this website.

It was very easy to make an appointment to have this done. I just pulled up to the front of the police station and the Police Sergeant came right outside to my car. He did a very thorough, hands-on, car seat inspection that took no longer than 15 minutes. Here is what he checked for:

  • Since my kids were still in their car seat when we got there, Sgt. Kramer inspected how they were fastened into their car seat. I got an A+ on this! The only thing he said was that Cam’s belt could’ve been a little tighter, but it was great. To test to see if your 5-point harness is tight enough on your child, do the pinch test of the seat belt. If you can pinch in the seat belt between your fingers when you think it is tight on your child, then it is not tight enough.
  • The kids go out of the car and Sgt. Kramer took the car seats out, checked their expiration dates, the make and model and inspected the belts. He wrote down everything about my car seat and did a double check to make sure there weren’t any recalls on either of my car seats.
  • He then put my car seats back into my car and showed me a couple of tricks to get the belts even tighter. He said that the person installing the seat should literally be in the car, pushing down on the car seat (like he is doing in the picture below) to make sure the belts are as tight as they can go.

car seat safety get it right

A Few More Tips

Car seats are only as effective as they can be when they are used which is why it is important to make sure they are properly installed. Here are a couple other things for you to remember:

  • Child safety seats, safety belts and air bags should be considered “one-time use” items. After a crash they should be replaced.
  • Child safety seats only work when they are properly secured to the vehicle with the safety belt of LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system. Once your child hits a certain weight, the LATCH system should not be used anymore. Please refer to your car seat manual for specifics.
  • For older children who use the vehicle’s seat belt, it should fit low and tight across the upper thighs or low on the hips. The shoulder belt should cross the collarbone and center of the chest. It can touch the neck, but should not cross the throat.

The Choosy Mommy came to life as I began writing for the Choosy Kids (www.choosykids.com) blog from the mom perspective. We also have bloggers who are teachers, nutritionist, pediatricians, dental experts, etc. and I share my two cents on food choices, physical activity, and daily health routines plus so much more! I have a ton to share but didn’t want to take over the Choosy Kids blog so I decided it was best to grow The Choosy Mommy brand.

49 thoughts on “Car Seat Safety: Get it Right!

  1. There are even different car seat laws when you travel abroad to countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa as well. It’s been an interesting beast to tackle. I am a stickler with the car seats, safety first.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      I have yet to travel abroad with the kids but even just traveling in the states gets confusing. I always just put them in what they are using at home, regardless if they could be in something small, like a booster.

  2. This is an excellent and thorough post. I think it will help a lot of moms out. I really like the infographics as well.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Thanks! I can’t take credit for it, as I found it on Edgar Synder’s website and with their permission I used it 🙂

  3. Lots of super valuable information here! Car seat safety is important to me as well, and we bought car seats that would rear face the longest – hubby’s truck even has a car seat that rear faces to 50 lbs! So yea my kid is riding backwards way past the recommended age of 2.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Rear facing up to age 4 is the safest, believe it or not!

  4. This is such an important topic. Great topic to write about and advocate for safety of our kids!

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Thanks! I hope people help each other out with their car seats.

  5. Thank you for bringing awareness to this important topic. As an ER nurse I have seen lives saved with properly installed and babies properly restrained

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      I am sure you have seen some of the scariest things but thank goodness for car seats saving lives!

  6. Veronica

    I was totally shocked when read that 9 out of 10 car seats are improperly installed… thank you for bringing up this issue! Safety should always come first.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      That was only in PA (where I live) but I bet it is just as high in other states.

  7. Terri Steffes

    I was in a car crash years ago. The car seat exploded on impact. Thank good ness my baby wasn’t in it at the time. This is such an important topic to discuss.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Exploded?! Was it installed correctly? Did the police/car seat manufacturer ever say why? That is so scary and I am also glad your baby was with you.

  8. Jeanine

    This is so important. I always try to help my friends when I can when it comes to car seat safety and such. It’s so scary when I see people not getting it right!

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      I am glad that you try to help. All it takes is just on person to say let me help you!

  9. I can’t believe that statistics show that most car seats are improperly installed. I love that you are raising awareness about this so other parents are aware of how to properly install a car seat.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      The statistics are really eye opening! Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Thanks for sharing. Seat belts are definitely life savers. I can’t stress than enough.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Exactly! Seat belts of any kind save lives.

  11. Elizabeth O.

    It’s really important that this is discussed with parents. You can never be too safe especially when it comes to your child’s well being. I think everyone should be aware of this.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      I kind of feel like more hospitals need to educate parents before they leave the hospital with their new baby. I never thought of it before, but what an idea!

  12. Angela @marathonsandmotivation.com

    This is a great post, I love that you are creating awareness around this…it is not enough to just have the car seat, it has to installed properly. I pinned this for reference and to share with others.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Thank you so much for the pin! Appreciate it!

  13. Kim

    Such important information for parents to know. I love the graphic because it makes it easy to understand.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Thanks! I used it with permission from Edgar Snyder 🙂

  14. Raising awareness about car safety is awesome, thanks for being part of this. I think it’s more than important to make sure that you kid is safely tucked in before you leave especially if you have a toddler who is full of energy. These safety tips are really useful!

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      It is sometimes hard enough to get toddlers into car seats and when you do, getting them buckled in properly takes more time. Trust me. The struggle is worth it!!!

  15. Myteenguide

    This is a nice awareness post. We should all know the importance of using a car seat for our little ones.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Thank you! Please share to help spread the word!

  16. Nicole Etolen

    We used to have a car seat when my son was young. It is important to have one,

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Most states require children to be in a car seat/booster until they are 9 or meet height/weight maximums on their car seats. I don’t know how old your child is now, but I’d be interested to hear how long he/she was in a car seat.

  17. Nicole Escat

    Oh, this is very important. I will tell my sisters about this. Car seats are must-haves.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Thanks! Please share so that others are aware of how important car seats are. You’d be surprised how many people are just oblivious to car seat safety.

  18. Thank you for this! I am going to double and triple check to make sure my child’s carseat is in correctly!

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Awesome! Check out your local police and fire departments too. I bet someone there could make sure you are correctly installing too!

  19. These are very very good and well made information! I cannot stress enough about the safety of our children. Thank you for sharing. I’m gonna pass this forward.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Thank you! Yes, please share!

  20. Jennifer

    Well, the information is too much more than what I know. It’s so sad knowing that the car seat safety problem is everywhere. Your post have raised my awareness of how important it is to choose a right seat. Your advice on how to choose the right car seat and how to install it properly is so helpful. Thanks!

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Thank you Jennifer. And I totally understand that it is a lot to take in, but I believe a child’s safety is well worth all of the information and knowledge.

  21. Thanks for speaking up, Christine! This is a very important information for all of us, not just our Mom. We all know kids can’t protect themselves and that is the responsiblity for the adults. You toipic has many detailed graphic and number and it’s actually useful. Please keep up posting these topics like this. I really appriciate it!

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Thank you so much for your comment. Love that you said children can’t protect themselves, nor are they knowledgeable how to, which is why the parents/caregivers have to bet he ones who are KNOWLEDGEABLE!

  22. Such a helpful post. I really appreciate it when you spend time investigating this carefully. Your work is very useful for the safety of everyone. Please keep updating things like this.

  23. I do know that some countries are lack of discipline. Your post is a big warning on them, even me. Thank you for being a part of raising awareness of car accidents. This is a great awareness post.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      I think the police are trying to educate more than discipline. Lack of knowledge of proper car seat installation and seat belt wearing on a child isn’t a reason to punish. But as long as we keep sharing information like this post, we can keep spreading the knowledge.

  24. Wonderful post. Thank you very much for sharing this article. This is very, very useful for me. Yes, kids’ safety is not only important to me but also the most important one. Your tips are really in detail and very useful. Again, thanks for sharing, Christine.

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      Hi Susan! So glad you came across my blog! Please share it out so that others can have a better understanding of child safety like you and I.

  25. This is such an important topic and well written post! My sister is currently researching her choice for the best infant car seat and is having a hard time choosing because car seats have come a long way in the way of safety. One thing that is really interesting is that 3 out of 4 baby injuries in an accident are due to the car seat not being installed into the vehicle properly or the straps not being fitted properly. Today, there are many options that try to make it much more fail proof. I have sent this article to my sister. Thank you!

    • Christine - The Choosy Mommy

      It is a good thing that she is having a hard time deciding which car seat to buy. That most likely means there are a lot of great ones out there that she feels are safe enough for her precious cargo.

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