"Adventures, I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull...But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have just landed in them, usually...I expect they had a lot of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten."

-Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A car seat post!

I've put up a car seat post before, but I wanted to put up another one so maybe some of my new readers can read it. Anyone that knows me knows how very important car seat safety is to me. If you have small children, PLEASE read this post in its entirety. Its very important!

Car seat safety is so important, yet many parents view it as just a way to keep their children seated in the car, they don't realize the detrimental effects of putting a young child forward facing, or putting a child under the age of 4 or 5 in a belted booster seat, or not in any car seat at all. In the USA, the laws for car seat safety are very lax, but there is a new push to beef up these laws, and they should be supported. READ your car seat manual, use it correctly, find a car seat tech in your area to check your seats out, have them installed professionally, and make sure its used correctly 100% of the time. While most car seats on the market only harness to 40lbs, there are now many many seats out that harness to 50, 65lbs, even 80lbs! Anthony was able to rear face in a Britax Marathon he was almost 3! He is now 4.5yrs old, 43" tall and 45lbs, and rides in a Britax Regent. Alexander is almost 8yrs old, 52" tall and 60lbs and just moved from a 5pt harness (the Regent) to a high back booster, the Sunshine Kids Monterey, just before Christmas.

Remember, every step up in car seats is a step down in safety.... moving from rear facing to foward facing is a big step down in safety. Moving from a 5pt harness to a booster is a step down in safety, and moving from a booster to the adult belt alone is a big step down in safety.

Here is a picture of Anthony rear facing at 35mos old, 33lbs, and 40" tall.

Feet touching the seat are NOT a problem. There has never been a documented case of broken legs in a rear facing child. But think of it this way... if a crash is severe enough to break a childs legs while rear facing, think of what would happen to that childs neck if forward facing. And actually the most common forward facing injury is... broken legs.

Here is a link to my facebook album with car seat pictures. There are correct usage pics and misuse pics. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=62351&id=570644292&l=62153f3560

I hope you can find the information below helpful and useful. And if you have any questions whatsoever, please don't hesitate to e-mail me, or give me a call. Lets keep our kids safe!

Child Passenger Safety Information In General

  • Always read both your car seat manual and the child restraint section of your vehicle manual.
  • There is no such thing as the “best” car seat. The best seat is the one that fits your child, fits your budget, fits your car, and will be used correctly 100% of the time. Choose the seat that has features that allow you to use it correctly.
  • All current seats sold pass minimum government safety standards.
  • Don’t use a used car seat, as you can never be sure of a seat’s history. Never use a carseat that is more than 6 years old.
  • Seats that have been in an accident need to be replaced.
  • NEVER place a rear-facing child seat of any sort in a front seat where there is an active frontal airbag.
  • Keep the chest clip of any harness at armpit level, not neck or tummy level.
  • When installing your seat, be sure to use the correct seat belt paths or LATCH hooks for either rear- or forward-facing. Don’t use both LATCH and the seat belt together. Only one can be used at a time.
  • It is best not to dress your child in bulky outerwear in his/her car seat. To check if a coat is too bulky, place your child in his/her seat with the coat on and adjust the harness to fit. Then remove your child’s coat and fasten the harness without adjusting. If the harness straps are too loose, the coat is too bulky. A blanket or poncho will keep your child warm AND safe.
  • Car seats do expire! An expiration date should be stamped into the plastic of the seat itself, or you may find it on a sticker. If you can’t find it, look for the date of manufacture, then find the limit in your manual. Most seats are only good for 5-6 years after the date of manufacture, with some being good for up to 8. http://home.comcast.net/~dcbsr/test/Britax_GMTV_Check_It_Fits_Child_Facing_Forwards_ten_years_old_seat.mpeg
  • Don’t recline the seat you’re installing your car seat in unless your vehicle manual specifically states that you can do so.
  • Have your seat checked by a Child Passenger Safety Technician. http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/childps/Contacts/index.cfm
  • “Moving up” in car safety (from rear facing to forward facing, from harnessed seat to booster, from booster to seat belt) is often viewed as a “milestone” by some, but each step is actually a demotion in safety. Keep your children rear facing for as long as possible. Keep them harnessed for as long as possible.
  • Do not use any aftermarket products on your seat. This includes infant head rolls, homemade covers, strap covers, or anything that goes behind your baby. If its not been tested by the manufacturer to use with your seat (ie-if its not sold WITH the seat) then don't use it! It will void the warranty on your seat if you are in an accident. If your child is injured and you are using an aftermarket product, the company cannot be held liable for any injury or death, even if the seat is disfunctional.

Infant Carriers

  • Many infant carriers have a weight limit of 20-22 lbs (two models now go to 30, one to 35) and a height/length limit of approximately 29”. The height limit is a guideline—the seat is outgrown when the top of the head is within an inch of the top of the shell. Check your manual for limits specific to your seat; if your child is too large for his/her carrier, please replace it with a convertible seat.
  • In a rear-facing infant carrier, the harness straps must be at or below your child’s shoulders for a proper fit.
  • Many models require the carrying handle to be down while traveling; some models are reinforced, however. Check your manual before leaving the handle up in the car.
  • Carriers are not meant to be placed in the front of a shopping cart. This causes the cart to become top-heavy and more likely to tip.

Convertible Seats

  • A convertible seat is one that can be used both rear-facing and forward-facing. Be sure to buy a model with a 5-point harness. http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/ConvertibleShop.aspx It is safest to leave your child rear-facing for as long as the seat will allow. Many states require children to be rear-facing until they are at least 1 year of age and 20 pounds; however, convertible seats have a rear-facing weight limit of 30-45 pounds. Car seats are also outgrown in rear-facing mode by height depending on where the head is in relation to the top of the plastic shell. Different manufacturers have different instructions on this, so be sure to read your manual to determine when your specific seat is outgrown by height in rear-facing mode. http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/RFbasics.aspx
  • Rear facing car seats are typically outgrown when there is less than one inch of hard shell above the childs head or the child goes over the rear facing weight limit. Until either happens, the child should remain rear facing. Feet touching the seat is NOT a problem and not a reason to turn a child forward facing. Please google EXTENDED REAR FACING and JOELS JOURNEY for more information.
http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/stayrearfacing.aspx · Some models only allow certain harness slots to be used for rear-facing, so check your manual to be sure your harness is in the correct position.
  • A 45 degree recline is recommended for newborns and young infants who are rear-facing. Older babies and toddlers can have less recline.
  • One manufacturer of several popular brands has a 34” height minimum for forward facing. Be sure to check your manual.
  • Keep harness straps at or below shoulders for a child who is rear-facing, and at or above shoulders for a child that is forward-facing.
  • Car seats are outgrown in forward facing mode when one of the three happens: Child passes the weight limit, child's ears are even with the top of the shell, child's shoulders are above the top slot. http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/FFbasics.aspx
  • Some models only reinforce certain harness slots for forward-facing; if your child is forward-facing, please check your manual to ensure your harness is in the correct slots. Slots that are NOT reinforced for forward facing will rip right out of the seat in the event of a crash.
  • When forward-facing, an upright position with no recline is safest. Don’t recline a forward-facing seat unless your car seat’s manual specifically allows for it.
  • All models now feature tethers for forward-facing to reduce head excursion in a crash. They should be used whenever possible.
  • A few models also feature rear-facing tethers designed to prevent rebound in a crash.

Combination / 3-in-1 Seats

  • A 3-in-1 seat rear-faces, forward-faces, and then is used as a booster (this is considered a convertible seat).
  • A combination seat is a forward-facing harnessed seat that turns into a booster.
  • Keep your child harnessed to the top weight limit of the harness (usually 40 pounds, a few models of combination seats go to 65). Check your manual for the weight limit on your seat’s harness. The harness and booster will have different weight limits.
  • When the child is 40 pounds (or the top weight limit for your seat’s internal harness; check your manual for the limit of your specific seat) or their shoulders are above the top harness slots, remove the internal harness and use the seat as a booster with the lap and shoulder belt. The booster cannot be used with a lap belt only.
  • In some combo / 3-in-1 seats, the top harness slots are for adjusting the headrest, and are not designed to be used with the harness. Check your seat itself, as this info may be stamped into the plastic shell. If in doubt, call the manufacturer and ask, as it is VERY unsafe to use a harness in unreinforced slots.


  • A child is held in place much better with a 5-point harness than with a booster. If your child will try to move around, will fiddle with the seat belt (perhaps unbuckling him/herself), or falls asleep in the car frequently, consider keeping him/her in a harnessed seat. http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/boosterbasics.aspx There are quite a few heigher harness weight seats on the market.

  • http://depts.washington.edu/booster/images/video/DRIV754_6yr_lap.mpg
  • It is not recommended to put a child in a booster who is not at least 4 years old and 40 pounds, with the maturity to stay in the booster.
  • Boosters cannot be used with a lap belt only—they must be used with a lap/shoulder belt. If your vehicle is not equipped with l/s belts, you can contact the vehicle’s manufacturer for a retrofitting kit, or you can use a travel vest in place of a booster.
  • The shoulder belt should be across the center of the chest, not the neck—use the shoulder belt guide if it doesn’t fit properly, or use a higher harness weight/height 5pt harness car seat.
  • The lap belt should be high on the thighs or low on the hips, not over the tummy.
  • Use a high back model if your car has low seat backs with no headrests. High back models also provide additional side-impact protection.
  • Younger children often don't fit with a backless booster. They're good for older children who are too tall or who literally just need a boost, but most young kids need the belt guide as well. Also, backless boosters provide no side impact protection, but do protect against other injuries.
  • Many kids need to ride in a booster until the ages of 8-12 and the height of 4’9”. To tell if your child is ready to ride without a booster, ask these 5 questions:
    1. Does the child sit back all the way against the auto seat?
    2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
    3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and the arm?
    4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
    5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
If you have answered “no” to even one of these questions, your child is safest in a booster seat. This test can have different results in different vehicles!· The back seat is the safest place for children under the age of 15, and the middle is considered the safest part of the back seat. Some good sources for car seat safety information www.thecarseatlady.com www.cpsafety.com www.safekids.org www.carseat.org www.seatcheck.org www.car-seat.org

Please remember that YOU are in charge of keeping your child safe. You may only need a car seat one time, but that one time you need it 100%, and if you haven't taken the time to install the car seat properly, or you are misuing it, it will fail, and your child will be injured or worse. Read the car seat manual, read your vehicle manual. Rear face until your child outgrows the seat rear facing by height or weight. Use a 5pt harness until your child is a bare minimum of 4yrs and 40lbs, but longer is best. Use a booster until your child can pass the 5step test above.

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