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The Baby Car Seat Safety Guide
If you’re about to become a parent for the first time, you’re probably in the throes of frantically preparing and buying everything needed to welcome your child into this world – and there’s so much to think about.
You will spend more time researching all the products needed to keep a baby safe, happy and healthy than you actually will using them. That’s because babies are very vulnerable and fragile while their little bodies and immune systems are still developing.
Therefore, products that your baby will be using frequently, must be thoroughly researched to ensure they are of top quality and are designed specifically for your baby’s age and safety.
Some of the most important things you’ll be buying for your child include a cot, pushchair and car seat. These are the items your baby will spend most of its time in, so they should be designed to be durable and safe.
Regardless of your baby’s age, you’re going to be eager to take them out into the big, wide world and show them all there is to see. A pushchair will get you both out onto the local scene, but once you’re ready to explore places further afield, you’re going to need a baby car seat.
Even if you only take the car out twice a month for regular visits to granny’s house in the next village, a quality baby car seat is an investment you’re going to have to make. Keeping your baby on your lap or otherwise strapped into the seat belt, is extremely dangerous and strictly prohibited by law.
There are various car seat models available at different price ranges (view our car seats here). And while there’s no need to shell out for the most expensive model, there are certain safety features you should consider.
To ensure safe travels with your child, check out our baby car seat safety guide.
Buying Second-Hand Baby Car Seats
Whilst many parents opt to buy second hand car seats, this is not recommended as they could have been involved in a crash without you knowing. If you really must buy a second hand seat, check it very, very carefully.
Follow the Instructions
As much as you may hate reading through instructions and confusing diagrams, taking the time to study this one properly could end up saving your child’s life one day.
Installing a baby car seat seems simple at first glance, but there are a lot of little details you need to be aware of to ensure it is 100% safe for use. The seat must be tightly secured and should hardly budge – a max. of 2.5 cm – when grasping and moving the attachment points.
If you have opted for a convertible car seat for infants and toddlers, it must be positioned correctly according to your child’s age. For safety reasons, it is highly recommended that your baby car seat is in the rear-facing position until the age of two.
For babies under six months, the seat should always be in a semi-reclined position. This offers the right support and security for their heads and keeps their airways open. Convertible car seats will allow you to adjust the positioning as your child grows.
To many parents it feels safer to install the baby car seat on the passenger seat, so they can keep an eye on their child and interact with them more. This isn’t the best option, considering this is where the airbags are installed.
The best place to install your child’s car seat is in the middle of the back seat, where they are safe from potential impact on either side of the car.
The harness and buckle are the most important components on your child’s car seat: they are what keep them safely strapped in. Before deciding on a model to purchase, always make sure that the straps and the buckle are of excellent quality and show no sign of being damaged or worn.
It’s not always easy to determine whether your baby is strapped in properly – especially as a new parent. You wouldn’t want to strap that teeny tiny body in too tightly, but you don’t want to keep it loose either, as it would compromise your child’s safety.
A great way to verify your baby is safely buckled up, is with the “pinch test”. Strap your baby into the car seat and test whether you can pinch the harness and gather it up where it rests on the collarbone. If you can, the strap is too loose.
Don’t strap your baby into their car seat in full winter-fashion – i.e. snow suit, puffy jacket, etc. It could compromise the secure fit of the harness straps and put too much tension on the buckle over time.
Plus, it’s just as uncomfortable for your baby as it is for you to be riding along in a bulky jacket. Remove some layers of your child’s outerwear before strapping them in and cover them with a cuddly blanket instead.
Remove the baby car seat regularly to check and clean the fabric, buckle and base properly. Purchasing the right car seat is only one part of the job – it’s up to you to maintain it for optimal safety!