Car Seat Safety Tips for Baby

I don’t know about your family, but mine spends an awful lot of time in the car. We live in a small town surrounded by cornfields, 25 miles away from the nearest Walmart. If I want to get really fancy, like go to Target, we’re talking about driving at least an hour each way. That’s why it’s so important that every time I put my babies in the car, I’m doing it the safest way possible. Here are a few car safety tips to keep our little ones safe on the road:

Car seats must be rear-facing at least through 2 years old. I’ve been seeing some moms do this for a while, but now the American Academy of Pediatrics advises it. Earlier this year, the AAP changed their recommendation, which used to tell use to rear-face at least through age one, so most parents (me included) flipped their kids around on the way home from their first birthday party. When my older son was that age, I hadn’t really heard of rear-facing past age one. Experts say that rear-facing car seats provide better protection for the neck, back and spine in an accident. Sure, a child might break a leg during a crash in a rear-facing car seat, but that’s much better than a broken neck. Besides, leg injuries are actually rare for children facing the rear. It’s too late for my son, but my twins will definitely be riding backwards as long as they’ll fit that way.

In the winter, don’t dress your baby in bulky clothing for riding in the car seat. Thick, soft clothing can affect the function of the harness. Also, you might not get the harness tightened properly the next time baby rides without the bulk. It’s not likely to be cold in the car if you have heat, so dress your baby in thinner layers, and place a blanket over-top the harness if you want to provide extra warmth. My three-year-old still doesn’t know what it’s like to put his coat on to leave the house because we always just take it along with us.

Follow a few guidelines when choosing a car seat. There isn’t one “best” or “safest” car seat on the market. The best one for you is one that is the right size for your baby and car and is installed properly. Have your car seat checked by a certified child passenger safety (CPS) technician before bringing a new baby home from the hospital. You can find a CPS tech here. Our nearest tech is at our state police headquarters. Never buy a used car seat from someone unless you know its history, and pay close attention to a seat’s date of manufacture and possible recall.

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