In honor of Child Passenger Safety Week, September 17 – 24th, we put together a few tips to help you brush up on your car seat safety. If you’re first time parents researching which car seat to purchase, you might want to first know what the different types of car seats are as well as the positions you can put them in. Having an overview of what you’ll need and how to properly use them will give you a great start on safety for your little passenger.
Types of Car Seats:
- Infant Car Seat. This type of car seat is designed for newborns and small babies. It detaches from a base that stays installed in the car and is portable, allowing you to leave baby in the seat as you remove them from the car. In this type of car seat your child will ride rear-facing, which is the safest position for them to ride in because the seat will protect their fragile necks and keep them at the correct angle. Since children grow at different rates they can grow out of their infant carrier anytime between 8 – 18 months, depending on the height and weight limitations of the car seat.
- Convertible Car Seat. This type of seat usually does not have a detachable base. It will allow your child to ride rear-facing longer because it typically has higher height and weight limits. In fact, some states have passed laws requiring children to ride rear-facing until they are 2 years old. Before your child outgrows the height and weight limits of their infant car seat they can transition to a convertible car seat and continue to ride rear-facing. When they grow some more they can then ride forward-facing in this seat as well.
- All-In-One Convertible Car Seat. In this type of seat a child can ride rear-facing, forward-facing, and it can be used as a booster seat as the child outgrows the 5-point harness.
- Common Examples of Misuse:
- Rear-Facing Car Seat: The amount of recline for the child’s seat is incorrect. If they are less than 1-year old they need to have the correct amount of recline angle to support their fragile necks properly. Most seats have an angle adjuster and an indicator to help with this.
- Forward-Facing Car Seat: The car seat is too loose. It shouldn’t move more than once inch either front to back or side to side when checked at the belt path.
- Booster Seat: The seat belt is in the wrong position. The lap belt should be placed low across the hips or upper thighs and not on the child’s belly. The shoulder belt should lay flat on the shoulder and chest and not touch the neck.
- Safety Tips for Proper Installation
- Before you install your car seat read both the car seat manual and the car seat section of your vehicle owner’s manual. Since every car seat and vehicle is different it’s very important to read both documents to get a proper fit.
- Once you get the car seat out of the box, and before you install it in your car, it can be helpful to put your child in the seat at home to adjust the harness straps.
- When installing the car seat, you’re either going to use the lower LATCH anchors or the vehicle seat belt, not both at the same time. A few car seat manufacturers do allow you to use both at the same time so check your manual. If you use the seat belt make sure you read your vehicle owner’s manual so that you know how to lock the seat belt.
- If you’re child is forward-facing make sure to use the Top Tether. This is very important because it limits forward head movement in a crash and can minimize injury to your child.
- When rear-facing the harness straps should be at or below your child’s shoulders.
- When forward-facing the harness straps should be at or above your child’s shoulders.
- The harness straps should not be loose or twisted. You will know if it’s tight enough if you cannot pinch any harness webbing when checked at the shoulder.
- Make sure the chest clip is at armpit level and not on the belly or rib cage.
- If your car seat is equipped with adjustable head wings, like the radian rXT, make sure they are positioned correctly according to the car seat manual.
- Register Your Car Seat
- Before you install your car seat, it’s very important that you register your car seat. If there are any important updates regarding your car seat you will get notified by the manufacturer.
- If you have a Diono car seat you can register here, you’ll just need your model number, serial number and date of manufacture.
- Bonus Tips!
- Although tempting, it’s not advised to purchase a used car seat. Unless you know the person and the history of the car seat, it’s always best to steer clear of a used car seat. This is because the car seat could have been in a crash, it could be expired, or it may not have been stored in a climate-controlled environment. Visually the car seat may look fine but there’s no way to know if there’s damage that you can’t see, and this puts your child at a greater risk for injury in a crash.
- Do your homework and make sure the car seat you want is compatible with your vehicle. You can look at the car seat manufacturer’s instructions, which you can usually find online, or call their customer service number. Most manufacturers also have installation videos on their website which can really help when it’s time to install the car seat in your vehicle.
- The safest place for children under 13 years old is in the back seat. In our home state of Washington, children are required to ride in the back seat until they’re 13 years old. If you’re not familiar with your state’s laws or if you’ll be traveling out of state, you can find local laws on the DMV website.
- The safest position for children to ride is rear-facing. Many seats, such the radian rXT, allow for extended rear-facing up to 45 pounds. The longer your child can ride rear-facing the safer they will be. Children in many European countries, such as Sweden, ride rear-facing until they’re 4 years old and those countries have some of the lowest injuries among children in motor vehicle accidents.
- Give Us a Call, We’re Here to Help!
- If you ever have any questions regarding your car seat, or if you’re trying to figure out if a Diono seat is the best fit for your family, don’t hesitate to call our Customer Care Team at 855-463-4666, Monday-Friday 8am-5pm Pacific time.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
To learn more about Child Passenger Safety you can visit any of the following websites for more information: