A car seat is one of the most important parts of child safety. A child safety seat is like a crib, it's one of those things you absolutely have to have, and you want to make sure you get right. Child proofing is an important issue, and aside from getting the crib right, the car seat might be one of the most important things to get right.
Choosing the right seat, however, isn't enough. You have to use the seat correctly, as well, or else it isn't going to do its job. There are several questions you should ask yourself about using a child safety seat, like the following:
Does your child ride in the back seat?
The back seat is almost always the safest place in a crash. Most car seats are designed for the back seat, anyway. Another thing to remember involving child safety seats and the front is this: if your vehicle has a passenger air bag, it is absolutely life or death important for young children to ride in the back.
Does your child ride facing the right way?
This is one that a lot of parents get wrong because it looks strange at first glance. Infants should always ride in rear while facing the restraints until about age 1 and at least the 22 lb range. Heavier weights than this should ride in a car seat that is designed for higher weights and they can ride facing forward. The owner's manual of every car seat gives specific instructions.
Does the safety belt hold the seat tightly in place?
If you are following instructions, the safety seat should be tightly strapped in. Also make sure the adjustable seat beat is tightened to provide a firm fit. When dealing with child proofing, you can't cut corners. You absolutely need to put the belt through the right slot. The safety belt must stay tight when securing the safety seat. Check the vehicle owner's manual for tips on using the safety belts.
Is the harness buckled snugly around your child?
The straps need to stay over your infant or child's shoulders. The harness should be adjustable, and you will want to shift it so you can fit one, and only one, finger underneath the straps at your child's chest. The chest clip should be at armpit level.
If your kid is over 40 pounds, does he/she have protection?
As tempting as it can be to do otherwise, most experts agree that you should keep your infant child in a safety seat with full harness as long as possible, at least until the 40 pound mark. Then you have the option of using a belt-positioning booster seat, which will help the adult designed seat belts to fit better. This is an option that is most often recommended for children who weigh in between the 40-80 pound range.
How should a car's normal safety belt fit my older child?
You child needs to be tall enough to sit without slouching, with knees bent at the edge of the seat, and feet on the floor. The lap belt should fit low and tight across the upper thighs while the shoulder belt should rest over the shoulder and across the chest. Although it's a popular practice, you should never move the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the child's back. The car's normal seat belt system alone will not fit most children until they are at least 4'9" tall and weigh a minimum of 80 pounds.