Read the owner’s manual to ensure that your baby seat is correctly installed and secured. While it might be a hassle to read all the directions, it’s worth it if it could save your child’s life. After installation try pushing and pulling to ensure that it is in fact tightly secured. The seat should not move more than an inch.
Keep your baby rear facing as long as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you keep your child rear facing until their second birthday because it protects their head, neck, and spine better if you were to get into an accident.
All baby seats have height and weight guidelines. A lot of people say to switch to a convertible seat once your child has reached age 1; however, the correct guideline is to check the space between the child’s head and the shell of the seat. If there is less than an inch of space then your child is too tall and it is time for a new seat. Don’t worry about your child being too tall for a rear-facing seat. Even if their legs are crisscrossed it is safer for them to be rear facing.
“Pinch Rule” can be used to help you determine if your child is safe to wear their coat while being buckled into the car seat. When you loosen the straps to make room for the coat you may create too much space and your child could slide around more than they normally would. You should not be able to pinch any material on their clothes between their shoulder and the strap buckle. If you can, there is too much slack.
If your infant is too small and slouches down in their car seat you can roll blankets and place them on each side of your infant. Be sure not to place any padding or blankets behind your child, or a car seat insert unless it came with the car seat you are using.
Extra questions to ask yourself:
- Does the seat fit in your car?
- Are you comfortable using it every time you are in the car?
- Is my child safe if I were to get into an accident?
- If you answered no to any of these questions, it may be time for a new car seat.