Hi, mama! Winter is coming, and this is a great time to chat about some car seat safety reminders. We have all seen the sanctimommy who just can’t keep herself from dispensing unsolicited advice. I promise it won’t be like that!
I am not a CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician), but I am mom to a one-year-old and a four-year-old. Sometimes getting us out the door and in the car feels like an Olympic event, and it can be easy to cut corners on safety. I don’t intend for this post to cover every aspect of car seat safety in detail, so do your own research. These are just a few reminders as the season change.
1. Winter coats and car seats don’t mix. Fluffy winter coats and car seats do not go well together. For a child’s car seat harness to work properly, it needs to be close to their body. It might not seem like it, but wearing a thick winter coat under a car seat harness creates space between your child and the harness, and in the event of a car crash, your child will not be restrained properly. I know it’s a pain, but remember to remove heavy winter coats before buckling into car seats! A few great alternatives are a lighter weight (but still warm) fleece jacket, a blanket in the car to cover up with, or even putting that heavy winter coat on backwards over the child’s arms but outside of the harness.
2. Rear-facing is safest. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ride in a rear-facing car seat until a minimum of age 2. Studies have shown that rear-facing is up to five times safer than forward-facing for children under two. Think of it this way: each time you make a step up in car seats (rear-facing to forward-facing, harness to booster, etc.) you are also taking a step down in safety. Don’t rush it! Your kiddo may meet the minimum weight or height to forward-face, but if they’re under 2 or still comfortably rear-facing – leave them.
3. Do your research! Know your particular car seats. Read the safety manual, and be sure it’s installed in your car correctly. Police, fire stations, and hospitals all inspect car seat installations, but they are generally not certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians. I’ve heard plenty of stories of officers or nurses giving incorrect advice! Your best bet is to locate a CPST near you, and schedule a car seat check. A great resource on Facebook is the Car Seats for The Littles. It’s an education-driven organization run by CPSTs and a great place to ask questions.
I hope these quick reminders were helpful as we head into winter, especially with all the holiday car travel our families are doing!
Keep those kiddos safe, OK?