Welcome to Kira's Blog

Welcome to My Blog

Life with young children can be challenging, but with the support and advice of friends, we can feel empowered and thankful for the blessing of being a Mom.

My musings are those of a self-proclaimed attachment-parenting Tiger mom, who juggles full-time mommying with a small (but growing!) baby-related business. I hope some of my thoughts help you
Enjoy your day, Enjoy your night, and Enjoy your kids!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Installing a Car Seat

There are some safety tips that are too important to ignore in a blog to help fellow moms. Here is one: how to install a car seat.

Most car seats are actually more complicated to install than they seem. And most car seats are improperly installed, as a result. While the chance of a serious car crash is slim, it can be a situation of life or death, so I view proper car seat installation as an important part of being a responsible parent.

The first thing to do is: go have it professionally installed. Don’t do it yourself. I probably had 4 car seats installed before I felt I’d observed enough times to feel confident doing it alone. To find professional installers, you can visit one of two websites:
-the non-for-profit group helping advocate for safe installations: www.seatcheck.org
-the government agency working on safe installations: www.nhtsa.gov
Most areas offer professional installation for free, so the sacrifice is the time & energy: sometimes there are long lines or few openings at the convenient time/day you’d like. But it's worth it. Make the time and do it right.

As you’re learning about proper car seat installation, there are a few pointers to keep in mind (aside from visiting the websites, above):
1. Infant car seats (rear-facing) are often installed at the wrong angles. I don’t know why the car seats aren’t made to accommodate deep seats (yet?), but in my experience, almost every brand needs some extra padding (usually a swim-noodle, cut in half) to push up the car seat at its base, ensuring the proper angle for an infant. Some car seats have a mechanism for checking that it’s the proper angle. Those that don’t: ask a professional.
2. LATCH is best. If you have a LATCH option on your car seat AND your car, use it. It’s much tighter and easier to install properly. Besides, that’s what it’s made for.
3. When installing without LATCH, always slowly pull the seatbelt completely out before fastening it. If you do not properly pull the seatbelt, it does not properly lock. If the seatbelt is not locked, you may as well have a free-floating kid in your car, because the car seat won’t help much if it’s not firmly attached on the seat. Again, if you don’t know how to properly pull the belt, consult a professional.
4. Sit or kneel on the car seat yourself, during installation (or have a friend help with this). This is the best way to ensure a tight fit – if an adult pushes his/her weight onto the car seat during installation, it squashes the spongy seat underneath, ensuring a tight fit.
5. Always check the fit – the part of the car seat that is belted to the car should not move more than 1 inch in any direction: side to side or forward-back. If it’s moving more than 1 inch, your child is free-floating too much in the car and will incur more physical damage in an accident.
6. Probably most important: always consult the car seat manual. Is your child too big or too small for this seat? Is the seat supposed to be installed in a certain step-by-step fashion? Don't second-guess - read and heed what the manufacturer recommends.

My sister-in-law commented that installing like I was showing her looked like a hassle. Yes, it is. One good point to consider is that if you’re new at installing and it’s NOT a hassle, you may not have installed properly. Double-check & be safe.

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