Your little one has finally arrived, but if you’re hoping to get beyond walking distance from your house – let alone leave the hospital – you’re going to need to figure out how to properly select, install, and use a car seat.
When choosing baby’s car seat, you’ll be looking for one that is rear-facing. This will be good until the baby is at least one year and a minimum of 10 kilograms (22 pounds). As soon as your baby turns one and is at least 10 kilograms, he or she can technically move to a forward-facing seat. It is important to note, however, that keeping your child in the appropriate category of seat for as long as possible is going to keep your child as safe as possible. This means that an infant should stay rear-facing until he or she outgrows the weight and/or height limits of the car seat…usually well past the first year. If you keep your little one rear-facing for as long as the seat allows, he or she is up to 500 per cent safer than a forward-facing toddler. That’s huge!
Before installing the car seat, make sure you’ve read the instructions that came with it, along with your vehicle owner’s manual. Both contain important information.
Now you’re ready to secure the car seat. If your vehicle has a Universal Anchorage System (UAS), figure out where they are, using your vehicle owner’s manual, and follow the directions. If you are using the seat belt to secure the car seat, make sure the seat belt is through the rear-facing belt path and that the seat belt is tight. Test the belt to make sure it is locked in place and won’t slip. Ultimately, you want the seat to move less than one inch in any direction.
Finally, it’s time to buckle baby up and hit the road. Make sure that the shoulder harness is threaded through the correct slot (refer to the seat’s instruction manual). The chest clip should be at baby’s armpit level, the shoulder harness should not slip off of baby’s shoulders, you should only be able to fit one finger between the harness and baby’s collar bone, and the shoulder harness should stay snug when you pull on it.
Think that once your baby isn’t a baby anymore, you’ll be done with car seats? Not so fast. Although booster seats are not law in Alberta, they are recommended for children ages four through nine, and up to 80 pounds. As well, children should not sit in the front seat until they’re at least 12 years old.
Properly installing and using a car seat can improve your little one’s chances of staying safe on the road by up to 75 per cent. Take the time to do it properly…your cargo is precious!
For more information on car seat safety, call Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-LINK, or visit www.albertaseatbelts.ca.
Six Child Car Seat Safety Tips:
- Don’t rush to move a child from one stage to the next.
- By law, children must be buckled up in a children’s car seat appropriate to their size and weight.
- The safest place for children 12 and under is the back seat of your car, in the right restraint.
- Never leave a baby unattended in his or her infant car seat when in or outside of your vehicle. Many seats can tip over easily when your baby moves.
- Be careful about accessories. Items not provided by the car seat manufacturer such as liners, trays and comfort straps may interfere with the safety of the seat. Check the manufacturer’s instructions before adding accessories.
- Replace the seat. You should replace the seat if it is past its expiry date, has been in a collision, is worn or no longer meets the specifications of the child’s size.
By: Kerri Leland