If you read my previous post about buying and installing car seats, then you’re up to par so far. If not, go read it!
Now that you have a seat and it’s safely installed (right?), the next step is making sure you’re using the car seat correctly. After all, even the most expensive car seat, installed correctly, doesn’t work at all if the baby isn’t strapped in right.
So let’s get started!
Rule #1: Make Sure Shoulder Straps Are in Proper Position
When baby is rear-facing, the top of the shoulder straps have to be at or below the baby’s shoulders. When forward-facing (which your baby shouldn’t be), they need to be at or above. This is measured perpendicular (at a right angle) from the recline of the back of the seat, not from the ground. When in doubt, put a popsicle stick into the slot with your baby in the seat to check — sometimes the fabric of the seat can make it hard to tell where the strap really is.
Rule #2: Rear-Facing Is the Responsible Choice
Unless your child has serious medical problems, they have to rear-face until they literally cannot anymore. With all the new, cheaper seats with 40-pound or higher rear-facing limits, it’s possible for anyone to have a seat that will keep their child rear-facing until the bare minimum of 2 years old and 30 pounds, as per the AAP’s improved guidelines. But as they state, 2 years is the bare minimum — your child is still significantly safer rear-facing until you cannot fit them that way any longer. After all, it’s 500 percent safer.
Children’s heads are a significantly larger portion of their body than an adult’s and their spines are initially cartilage — not bone. In the event of an accident, if their overly large head pulls on the weak spine (which doesn’t fuse and harden until around 4 years old), they will likely suffer from internal decapitation — this means that the cartilage and spinal cord inside their neck snap and they die instantly. It takes a serious medical problem to make that risk worth forward-facing a toddler before you absolutely have to. (I don’t want to scare anyone — this is all to help us keep our kids as safe as we can.)
To read the full article and view video, do visit http://thestir.cafemom.com.
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