Making sure your child is strapped into their child seat properly may seem like basic parenting. But, no one teaches you how to fit the car seat and make sure it is actually safe; you simply have a set of instructions to follow.
But, if you don’t fit the child seat properly, you’re putting your child at risk; without even realizing it. Did you know that in 2014 67% of child seats in the UK were fitted incorrectly?
This is why you don’t just need to buy the right car seat for your infant; you need to know how to install it.
- Keeping It Loose
After you have installed your car seat give it a quick pull at the bottom. You should not be able to move the seat in any direction for more than 1 inch.
If you can move it further than this, then you have not tightened the straps properly. This is an easy mistake and exceptionally easy to fix; just tighten the straps holding the seat in place.
- Child Straps
The same test should be applied to the straps after your child has been strapped in. You should not be able to wrinkle the belts after they have been clipped in to place. If you can, then you need to tighten them immediately.
- Check Clothing
It is difficult as you wish to protect your child from the cold. However, the massive jacket they are wearing will interfere with the ability of the child seat to do its job.
Put simply, the thick clothing adds slack in the straps which increases the likelihood of your child being injured.
- Expiry Date
Did you know that car seats have an expiration date?
The date is usually between 5 and 10 years after the seat was made. The date is necessary as the materials the seat is made from will deteriorate over time. This will reduce the protection it can give to your child.
- Buying Secondhand
It is indeed a lot cheaper to purchase a second-hand car seat than it is to buy a new one. However, second-hand car seats come with a risk.
Even assuming that the seat has not passed its expiration date, you will not know if it has ever been involved in an accident. A car seat which has been in an accident must be replaced; it will not offer the same level of protection if there is another accident.
If you don’t know for certain that the seat is not expired and has never been in an accident then taking it is not worth the risk.
- Buying High
Just because a car seat has a high price tag does not mean it offers any more protection than the basic seat offering.
Every seat is manufactured to the same standard; don’t let price or the current style affect your decision.
- Keeping It Age Specific
When you’re child is under two they should be in a rear-facing car seat. This decreases the likelihood of head injuries if you do have an accident.
Transferring them into a forward facing seat before they should be increases their risk of injury. It is essential to follow the guidelines on your seat.
- Have It Checked
No one likes to be told they have fitted something incorrectly but this is preferable to finding out the hard way. Most shops have technicians who will either install or check your installation for you. It is advisable to use their services!