Avoid Car Seat Mistakes

Most Common Car Seat Mistakes

Scroll though my Facebook feed and you'll think there was a huge baby boom recently! It seems like my timeline is just full of babies. Babies on playmats, babies sleeping, babies taking their first bites of food, and of course, babies on the go.

These babies are so sweet, and so cute, and so cuddly, and often…so unsafe in their car seats. Most (if not all!) parents want to keep their kids safe, and if for some bizarre reason they didn't, they certainly wouldn't splash it all over social media. Here are the most common mistakes that parents don't even know they're making!

1. Loose Straps!

If there is visible looping, bunching or slack in the harness, it's too loose. If the straps are too loose, the child can slip out of them with the force of a crash. Most parents feel like their kids will be uncomfortable if they tighten the seat too much, so they go too far to the other side. A good rule of thumb is the "pinch test". If you can pinch the strap or harness between two fingers, it needs tightening.

2. Too much bulk.

This one usually manifests in the winter, but I've seen some over zealous newborn parents overbundle for anything cooler than a beach day. Generally speaking, you should not have to adjust the straps to accommodate clothing. Dress your child normally for the season and put them in the seat. If outerwear requires you to loosen the straps, it's too bulky. Add a blanket or a backwards coat to keep them warm.

 3. Twisted straps.

Those fickle straps. I can attest to the fact that my kids seem to be able to tangle and twist straps simply by sitting still, and they can be a huge pain! But if they're twisted, they aren't laying flat and tightened, and they won't do their job. Every time you buckle, take an extra moment to make sure that the straps are threaded correctly.

4. Chest Clip too low.

There are people who seem to make a hobby of scouring every car seat picture they see and letting parents know that this particular clip is about a millimeter too low. I've written about the chest clip before because it's one of my pet peeves. A millimeter (or, dare I say, even a centimeter) isn't going to hurt. But a chest clip sitting on the belly, basically touching the buckle, won't do its job of keeping the straps properly positioned, and could even do organ damage in a crash. The chest clip should be armpit level.

 5. Unbuckled!

If you're moving, kids need to be buckled into their seats. I was flabbergasted when I saw a picture of a baby with only the chest clip fastened and the crotch buckle completely undone. Someone else had commented, and the parent in question protested "Oh, we usually buckle the whole things, but this was just a short drive across the parking lot!" Not a good idea. For the seat to work, all the buckles need to be fastened, every time. Some toddlers start Houdini moves and love to mess with buckles, so make sure you check in on them from time to time to make sure they haven't escaped!

 6. Turned too soon.

I know, I know, we didn't even have car seats and we all survived to adulthood without rear facing into toddlerhood. But we learn new things about safety all the time, and a rear facing toddler is FIVE TIMES more likely to avoid an injury than one who has been turned to forward face. Just because you can legally turn at one or two (there is nowhere where it is legal in the US to turn before one) doesn't mean you have to.

It's never worth being a jerk on social media, but making sure you're well informed to keep all those babies safe is worth it!

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