When you decide to have a baby you don't realize all the decisions you will have to make. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? To circumcise or not to circumcise? Home birth or hospital? Epidural or no epidural? Finding the "right" pediatrician. To breastfeed or not and if so, how long? The list goes on and on and on.
For example, extended rear-facing or not? What the heck does that mean!? That's exactly what I thought. When I did my research I found a ton of information about car seat safety that I was not aware of. It's scary how many parents are NOT using their car seats properly. Four out of five safety seats are used incorrectly, with an average of three mistakes per seat, reports the Washington, D.C.-based National Safe Kids Campaign. Here are the most common mistakes...
#1 - Car seat too loose
#2 - Harness too loose on child
#3 - Turning the child to a forward-facing position too soon.
#4 - Rear-facing infant seat not at a 45 degree angle
#5 - Using the retainer clip (chest clip) incorrectly
I see this ALL the time. I can't tell you how many times I see babies buckled into their seats (either in person, pictures and even on reality TV) and the chest clip is all the way down to their stomach. I might have also made this mistake if it weren't for all the car seat education we received from the nurses while Connor was in the NICU. It is so so so important to have the chest clip up at armpit level. Otherwise it will not properly hold your child in their seat and in an accident and they are at risk of being ejected.
|7/13/11 Connor in his infant car seat at 7 months old|
#6 - Harness straps through the wrong slots
#7 - Not using a booster seat
#8 - Using a seat that's been recalled
You can read the article that lists all 8 of these mistakes and how to fix them here.
Before having a baby I knew nothing about extended rear-facing. I thought you just followed the law. The law is that your child must be in a rear-facing car seat until they are 1 years old and 20 pounds. However in March 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement saying they now recommend keeping your child rear-facing until they are 2 years old or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat.
When I heard this I had no idea why they would recommend something but it wasn't "law". So I did some research. It only took me watching a video demonstrating crash test dummies of a child rear-facing vs. a child forward-facing for me to make a decision.
I will 100% keep Connor rear-facing for as long as possible, preferably until he reaches the maximum weight of 40 pounds for his seat.
|9/24/11 Connor in his convertible car seat at 9 months old. Rear-facing of course! :)|
I was so shocked when doing all my research on car seat safety. I wish they gave parents more education before they left the hospital but because of liability they don't. Which baffles me. Obviously parents aren't getting the education they need if so many parents are making mistakes. I don't think parents don't want the education but rather they don't know they need it. It's scary to think so many parents are unknowingly putting their child's safety at risk. So I'm passing on this information in the hopes that some one will see it who didn't already know these things. Who knows, like the video says...maybe it will save a life.
It's only been 2 hours since I published this post and shared it on my Facebook wall and already I have learned 2 more important safety facts. This just further supports the fact that even though parents want the information it is hard to find, these were 2 facts that I did not come across with all my researching online. I'm kind of shocked. How many more facts are out there that we still don't know?
Thank you to my friend Erin for sharing these with me.
#1. Do not use aftermarket products (head supports, warm blanket like inserts etc.) with your seat. If it doesn't come with your seat then it has not gone through the rigorous crash safety standards. Although some of the blanket inserts (example: The Bundle Me) can be made safe to use with just a pair of scissors. Check that out here. Along with the explanation of why these things are not safe.
Last winter I used an insert in Connor's infant seat to keep him warm. I thought since it had big holes to fit the straps through that it was safe. Now I feel guilty for not knowing that is wasn't.
I also use aftermarket strap covers (in the hopes of making the straps more comfortable for him) but will be taking them off immediately.
#2. Do not put your baby in their car seat with bulky winter jackets on. For further explanation read this.
If you have any other tips, please leave a comment. YOU could save a life!