* I get questions about car seat recommendations and use quite often, so I am going to make a few blog entries about correct car seat use. I strongly encourage any of you that have little kids to take the time and read this! Please! This a work in progress, I'll be editing it.
If you have spent much time around me at all, you know I love me some car seats. And I get really excited when I see them used correctly, it absolutely makes my day. Unfortunately, it's as rare as a blue moon to see kids restrained correctly. Using your car seat per the manufacturers directions is imperative for it to protect your kiddo during an accident. Your child may never need the protection his car seat offers, but if he ever does need it, he needs it to work 100%. You don't get to choose when or if you have an accident, so you need to use it correctly EVERY time. I am a visual learner, so I thought I would give blog land a visual guide of car seat basics. My friend M over at The Everyday is kind enough to help me out as she is just as big a car seat nut.
The basics for all car seats:
For the itty bitty baby: The Bucket Seat.
A lot of mistakes occur here. Key points: harness clip even with the armpits. Straps snug. There should be no place on the harness where you can pinch the strap together or fit more than one finger under the harness. It has to be tight, in an accident adults seat belts tighten, children's harnesses do not. The handle should be all the way down behind the seat when the car is in motion. It's a pain, I know. Just do it. Also, don't add anything to your car seat that didn't come with it. No mirrors, no toys, no extra cushions, no belt tighteners. Nothing.
Oh yeah, infants seats must be rear facing. Must.
For the not so itty bitty baby and toddler : The Convertible Seat.
* the American association of pediatrics now recommends children stay rear facing to the extents of their car seat. For most seats this is somewhere between 30 and 35lbs and the seat is outgrown by height when there is less than an inch of hard shell above the top of the childs head.
*harness needs to be below the shoulders for rear facing, above the shoulders for forward facing.
*tight harness, no slack
*chest clip even with armpits.
*seat securely installed in car per the car and seat manufacturers directions.
No jackets in car seats or any other bulky clothing, it keeps the harness from being tight enough to restrain the child in the seat in an accident. Use a blanket after the child is buckled in correctly on top of the harness.
For big toddlers and up: The Combination Seat.
Modeling is my little pal L. She really loves her seat and was quite upset that 1, her mom made her abandon tv watching to take this photo and 2, that her mother put her in the seat wrong for the NO photo. She is in a Britax Regent, which is a 5 point harness up to 80lbs and 53 inches.
*harness is snug, you can't pinch any slack.
*chest clip is even with armpits.
*no added toys or cushions.
*seat is installed securely and tightly in the car.
For big kids: The Booster Seat.
I don't have any photos of kids in boosters, but.... I recommend putting off using one as long as possible. Each step up in car seats (example, from rear facing to forward facing) is a step down in safety. So, use a 5 point as long as possible.