While you may think that the baby car seat is a matter of convenience, it is that and a lot more. The convenience aspect is impressive right when you discover the ease of removing your sleeping baby from the car without having to wake them up by unbuckling. All you need to do is detach the baby car seat and click it into the stroller. After all, what is a worse nightmare than waking up a sleeping baby?
A lot more than convenience, it is about safety. The safety aspect of baby car seats and the danger of an unsecured child in a car are what make car seats a compulsion in most countries including the UK. While baby car seats are a safety essential, they can be a hazard if certain safety parameters are not followed.
Studies have indicated injuries in children in portable car seats after toppling from surfaces at an elevation or in case of turning off the car seat when placed on soft surfaces like a bed top or on a sofa. Here is a compilation of important car-seat safety tips based on reports from consumers and the directives from leading paediatrician associations worldwide:
Staying safe when inside the car:
- Positioning the infant car seat: The infant car seat must not be placed forward-facing in the rear seat or anywhere in the front row. This is a possible death hazard. It is advised to place it in a rear-facing position in the back seat of the car. It is great if an adult accompanies the child in the back seat. This is because a back-facing position offers better injury protection to the baby’s head and spine. Also, in case of an accident where the child is secured in a front seat, airbags that deploy pose a life risk to the child.
- The angle of recline: It is important to focus on the angle that the car seat is reclined at. It should not be too upright or too reclined. Reclined angles are designed in a way that very young infants have adequate tilt. This tilt prevents the head from falling forward and restricting the airway. It is not too reclined to prevent injury during an accident. Most car seat bases or carriers have a recline indicator. Read it carefully to make sure that the baby is in a proper position.
- Minimize hazards: It is not advisable to hang toys from the handlebar of the car seat carrier. While they work amazing at distraction, they follow projectile motion during a crash and may hurt the child. You can keep them in hand or hang some very soft and light toys. Also, do not put in pillows when no adult accompanies on the back seat. Accessories like bands to keep the head secured are not recommended.
- Get rid of puffy coats: Puffy winter coats are hazardous in case of a crash due to the creation of extra space between the harness and the baby. Only a light jumper or jacket suffices before putting the harness on. A blanket cover can be used on the top.
Staying safe outside the car:
While grocery shopping: The toddler sitting space on the grocery cart is not safe to put the baby car seat as there is no locking mechanism and the baby could topple down with the seat. If you must, the car seat can be placed in the large portion of the grocery cart.
The car seat is not a bed: Do not use the seat to secure your child at home. Safe sleep guidelines require a firmer and flatter sleep surface such as a crib. Sleeping for very long durations in the car seat can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Elevated or soft surfaces: As the name suggests, a car seat is supposed to be used in a car. Do not use it on high surfaces like a kitchen platform. Also, soft surfaces should not be sued to keep a car seat. These include the bed, sofa, mattress etc. This is majorly because on higher surfaces the seat stands a chance to move and fall down, thereby hurting the baby. On soft surfaces, a change in the angle of the seat may cause the baby to bend forward and obstruct breathing. Short naps in car seats are ok but they cannot be their primary bed.
While taking the baby out: When you want to take the baby out of the seat, do not undo or loosen the harness. You must open the buckle at the chest or crotch or completely unbuckle to move them out. If you use the car seat outside to secure the baby, make sure the baby is harnessed snugly. Babies can move in the seat and a loosely buckled harness can be a strangulation hazard. The baby could also fall out of the seat if not properly buckled.
Every year, several little children face injury or death in a car crash. It is important to use the car seats properly in order to keep them safe. It is also important to choose a good car seat that adheres to international safety standards.
The type of car seat also depends on the age, height and other needs based on the needs of the side. Once you buy the car seat, do a dry run to try installing and uninstalling the seat and understanding all its operations and features beforehand.
Dress the baby in thinner layers to avoid overheating during travel. Take adequate breaks in your journey and give the child some seat free time to avoid crankiness as well as overheating.
Do not worry:
Here are some aspects that you must not worry about in order to ensure safe travel for the baby:
- A rear-facing seat will not cause any issues with bending legs. Rear-facing is the safest way for the child to travel.
- If the baby bends down towards the side of the seat, place a tight roll made out of a receiving blanket on both sides. Just do not put anything behind the back unless an insert was provided by the manufacturer.