Car Seat Safety For Your Newborn: What Matters and What Doesn’t
When you have a baby, the first few months are absolutely crucial to the development and safety of your child that you use a car seat. All children are growing, but babies have spines that are still developing and a head that they really cannot control. If you do get into a car accident, you need something that will help to keep everything together and cradled. That is why getting a car seat that fits your child at his or her smallest is so important.
Types of Car Seats for Babies
The safest devices for newborns (0-12 months) is an infant-only child safety seat. An infant only seat is considered to be the safest because you cannot use it facing forwards, just incase you needed a reminder. These seats come with a harness that has either three or five points on the harness. A five point is a better option because it will have two straps to secure at the shoulders, two at the hips, and then another that connects between the legs. This, as one can imagine, will keep your child in place in an accident.
Usually, infant-only seats will have a base that separates from the actual seat – this means that the actual seat is portable and has a carrying handle. This will keep your baby comfortable and safe if you are walking a longer distance to get into your home, as well as when you are traveling or even just shopping. Make sure that your seat is safe for flights or train rides, however, before you just assume.
When you buy an infant only seat, you will eventually need to buy another seat once your child reaches the weight and height limits. These tend to be upwards of 35 pounds, but some seats do come in at a bit lower.
Rear Facing Seats That Convert
Another option that many people consider is using a convertible seat that also has a rear-facing mode. This is a possibility and they are extremely safe. You do have to ensure that you have the straps extremely tight and that your child meets the minimum weight requirements – this is often a problem with babies that are smaller or preterm.
One option that you don’t hear about all that often is the option of using a car bed. These are designed for the smallest of the small newborns. While many people cannot take their babies home when they are that small, if you are in the lucky minority that can, you may want to invest in a car bed.
Car Seat Safety Tips
When you are purchasing a car seat for your newborn, there are a few different things that you want to keep in mind:
- Until at least two years of age, you want to keep your child in a rear facing seat – at that point, you should only move him or her to a forward facing seat if your child meets both the height AND weight requirements. This is imperative to keep your child safe – in a forward facing seat, they need to be able to weigh down the seat.
- Your child is bendable! Do not be afraid if your child looks a little crunched up and folded – that will only keep them safe.
- Never put a car seat in the front of your car unless it is the only option that you have – and even then, you should not do it. You want to ensure that your child won’t be hit by the passenger side airbag.
- Ideally, you want to put your child in the middle of the back because that is the safest place if you are in an accident.
- Always keep the shoulder straps at or just below your baby’s shoulders. One great tip is that when you first have your baby and the hospital checks the safety of the seat, you should take pictures of the baby all strapped in – that way, when he or she grows, you can move it to the same places. One great way to ensure you have it set up correctly is that the top of the chest clip is at the armpit level.
- Make sure that the harness is tight enough so that you are not able to pinch the straps, but always make sure that they aren’t twisted.
- Put the least amount of material possible between your baby and the straps – remove bulky clothing, blankets, and anything else that may get in the way. You can put a cover over your baby once strapped in.
No matter what, there is not one answer fits all babies or families – you will have to make the decision for yourself about what your baby, your car, and your family needs.