If you pay any attention to my posts here or blog posts, you know I am passionate about PROPER carseat usage. That includes keeping your child in the appropriate seat for their age AND size but also using it properly. Unless you've spent time reading your carseat manual and looking at the key items for a proper install there is a high chance your seat is installed incorrectly. Why does that matter? It's physics and engineering. They are designed to save lives when used properly and have been tested to save lives when used properly. Install them properly and it's anyones guess how safe your little one truly is.
Quick facts... if you're going to bug out of this post soon and are assuming you're doing it all correct at least check these out.
- Chest clip needs to be positioned across the sternum lined up with the top of the armpit. Incorrect positioning can cause internal organ damage in an accident!
- Straps need to be tight. Pinch along the top of the straps and if you can get any slack your child isn't secure.
- NO thick coats in carseats. Install your child with their coat on and take the coat off and reinstall if there is any difference in the amount of harness length needed the coat is too bulky to be worn in a carseat. It can compress in an accident leading to ejection.
- Rear face to a MINIMUM of 2yrs old. Bones ossify closer to three and your child is significantly safer rear facing to four and beyond (to the limits of your carseat and high capacity rear facing seats are now easily available).
If the above facts are no brainers for you please still read on.
- Harness strap positioning – When in a rear facing seat the harness shoulder straps should be adjusted so that they come out of the back of the carseat at a position that is at or below your child's shoulders. When forward facing it's opposite and the harness shoulder straps should be adjusted so that they come out of the back of the carseat at a position that is above your child's shoulders. Improperly positioning the harness straps changes the amount of force you child's small body will receive in an accident! That's directly related to how injured they would be.
- Top tether – ALL forward facing carseats should be installed using the included top tether. This affects how much rebound your child's head receives in the case of an accident.
Additional safety precautions such as placement of any car seat headrests, bracing (touching) against other car chairs, when to use LATCH versus seatbelt (never do both!), guidelines for replacing after an accident, and more is all important, can change by car seat manufacturer and car manufacturer. Even after thoroughly researching car seats I learn more all the time. Please do your research and keep your baby, toddler, preschooler, and child SAFE!!
Check out Car Seats for the Littles for even more great info!!