Thursday, October 14, 2010

Carseat Rant

After helping to install a car seat that was HORRENDOUSLY installed today, I have to take a derailment from my Cancer blogging of late. 

Infant Car Seats
  • These should be rear facing people! You should not use one that is older, safety models have increased dramatically.  I would not recommend buying one from a garage sale or one used, once a car seat has been in an accident it should be discarded (much like a bike helmet) and you don't know what's happened to this seat. 
  • Buy a infant seat with the highest weight limit possible. My favorite for many reasons has a limit of 30 lbs, verses the very common 22lbs.  You want that baby rear facing in an infant seat AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.  If that child reaches a year old and they are still not at the weigh limit, keep them in that seat until they are! It's not 1 year old and 22 lbs, which ever happens FIRST--it's whatever happens LAST.
  • Please bring these seats to a licensed installer at least 3-4 weeks before your due date.  We will install it and show you how to reinstall it.  You do not want to go into labor early and not know how to install your seat.  This happens way too often.  Think ahead.
  • Hospitals will not send you home without a car seat, plan ahead. See bullet #3
  • If you are a two car family and will both be transporting baby, I'd recommend investing in a second "base" unit.  It makes it so much easier and you don't have to worry about if you've installed it right into 2 different cars. They're cheap ($60?)
Toddler Seats / Booster Seats
  • Your child should be in a rear facing booster until 2 years old at least, or until they hit that weight limit at rear facing (again, whatever happens LAST). 
  • When you buy these booster seats and it has "tether", make sure to look at how it tethers.  There is a very popular brand that tethers over the baby's head when the seat is rear facing. I'd say about 85% of people who bring these seats to us return them because they are impossible to install (just difficult) and the overhead tether makes it incredibly difficult to get the baby in and out. It's a huge design flaw. HUGE!
  • When you move that child to front facing, make sure to adjust the tilt mechanism accordingly.  Read that owners manual!
  • Please reference the LATCH section below. don't use the outside latch mechanisms to latch the seat in the middle, you're just compromised the safety of the seat.
LATCH Systems
Don't know what LATCH is? get in your back seat, feel between the seat cushions on the sides: you should feel metal hooks (if your car was manufactured after 2003).  These little hooks are (essentially) little secure devices bolted to your frame.  New car seats use these LATCH devices to make the car more secure.  They're required now in cars.  However, most cars still do not have LATCH in the center seat.  You CANNOT use the outside hooks on the window seats to latch a seat in the center, the distance is too wide and the seat is NOT secure (unless your vehicle's owners manual says you can, which is rare if ever).  You MUST use a seat-belt if you do not have center latch and want to put the car seat in the center.  This seat-belt must also have a locking mechanism (the thing that keeps you from flying forward when you stop quickly) in order to keep the seat in place.  Check your car's owners manual to find out if your vehicle has center latch.  There are many SUVs that you would assume have the LATCH system in the center, but do not.  Many cars as well. 

Basics
  • Read the owners manual for both the car seat AND the vehicle.  Please.  If you can't figure out how to install it, please call someone who does.  Double knotting the tethers to the headrest (no joke), wedging the seat between the front seat and the back seat (also not joking), using bungies (wish I was joking), etc are DANGEROUS TO YOUR CHILD.
  • You don't have to pay a lot for a good car seat. 
  • Keep your kiddo rear facing as long as humanly possible. 
  • If you do not have center latch in your vehicle, using the seat-belt is fine!  But do not try to jury rig the LATCH in the other seats to work on that center seat.
  • Once installed, the rule is, the seat cannot move more than 1 inch from side to side or front to back.
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