Whether you’re a new mom or a seasoned pro with 3+ kiddos, you may still have a thing or two to learn about child car safety.
If you don’t actively take the time to learn what’s right and wrong, you could be missing a thing or two.
In reality, it’s not all common sense. And because car technology changes so quickly, so do the rules.
Here are 5 things parents should never do if they want to keep their children safe in the car.
Forward Face before two
The laws on car seat safety are changing across the country, and whether your state is up-to-date or not, it’s important to take note.
Infants and toddlers should be rear-facing in their car seats until at least the age of two. After two years of age, it’s a judgment call. In most cases, you can continue to rear-face until the child is about three. But it all depends on the child’s size and the car seat specifications (read the manual).
It may seem “inconvenient” to rear-face your child, but it’s really the safest way for him or her to travel. Never put convenience or comfort over your child’s safety.
Allow a child in the front seat
You probably already know that it’s extremely unsafe for young children to sit in the front seat, but did you know that they should remain in the back seat until they’re 13? This is according to information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This isn’t necessarily a law, but it’s a strong safety recommendation. Laws will obviously vary by state, so check your state’s car seat laws. And if you think this is overkill, understand that airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat.
Let a child use a seat belt too soon
For safety reasons, your child should remain in a booster seat until he or she is 4 feet 9 inches and about 80 pounds or more. Regardless of whether they resist, you shouldn’t take them out of the booster seat before they are ready. The seat belt isn’t designed to protect them until they reach this size.
Placing the chest strap too low
Your child’s 5-point-harness car seat has what’s called a chest strap. Now, if you’ve been placing this in the wrong spot, you may not have known its name. The chest strap is the top strap that is supposed to be placed at the child’s chest, around the area where the armpits are. Unfortunately, many parents buckle this strap too low (closer to the child’s stomach), which leaves the child susceptible to greater injury. At the chest, the ribcage can sustain the force of a collision. The stomach area cannot.
Thinking behind the front seat is the safest spot
Whether in an infant seat, booster seat or a seat belt, the middle seat is the safest spot in the car for your child. Not only is this further away from any side collision, but it’s also further from any side airbags your car may have. With that said, it’s still a safe and acceptable option. Obviously, if you have three children, you can’t put them all in the center seat.
If you’ve been making any of these mistakes, don’t beat yourself up. All you have to do is correct the mistakes, and your children will be much safer in the car.