Here are five things parents and caregivers must do to make sure their infant is safe when they travel in a vehicle.
- Do NOT wait until the last minute to install the car seat. When you’re expecting a baby, there are many things that have to be done but don’t leave the car seat installation until the last minute. The best way to make sure the seat is installed correctly and that you know how to properly secure your baby in the seat is to take the time to get familiar with the seat. A Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician will help you make sure the seat is properly installed, teach you the do's and don’ts of car seat safety, and make sure you are equipped with the knowledge you need to keep your little one safe.
- Do not put bulky blankets or coats inside the harness. Swaddling is a common practice with infants, but when placing your baby in an infant seat, it is very important that the harness is snug enough against the baby’s lightly clothed body. No harness webbing should be able to be pinched between the thumb and forefinger. Tightening the harness straps over swaddling blankets or puffy clothing can leave undetected slack in the harness, which can lead to an increased chance of injury, or even ejection from the seat during a crash. To provide extra warmth, tighten the harness first and then place the jacket or blanket on top of the child and harness.
Position the harness straps correctly. The proper positioning for the harness straps for a rear-facing child is at or below the shoulders. This will prevent the child from moving upward in the seat in the event of a crash. It is also important to check the straps often since kids grow quickly. Consequently, the harness may need to be frequently adjusted.
- Position the chest clip correctly. The purpose of the chest clip is to keep the harness in the correct position right before a crash. We often see the chest clip positioned either too low, which can result in shoulder straps not fitting correctly, or too high, which can cause breathing issues. The proper place for the chest clip is at armpit level.
- Pay attention to your child’s height as well as weight. A child that is too tall for the car seat is at an increased risk of head injury during a crash. All car seats have a height and weight limit. According to the CDC growth charts, a child is actually more likely to outgrow many infant car seats in height before he reaches the maximum weight limit of the seat, so be sure to pay attention to your child’s height relative to the shell of the seat and compare it to the height limit of the car seat.
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