I was at the library today when I saw an NHTSA ad proclaiming that “3 out of 4 car seats are installed incorrectly.” Wow! I am not a carseat expert, but I’ve become somewhat passionate about carseat safety. A few common problems I have seen when I am out and about:

Turning a baby or toddler forward-facing. I know, I know – it’s tempting. Now that Calvin is 20 months old, I have certainly been tempted myself. But the bottom line is that rear-facing is far safer and your child should remain rear facing until he reaches the weight limit of the car seat.

Not paying attention to the shoulder straps. The straps should meet high up on the chest – near the armpits. I try to remember that the clip should go in-between the nipples. This is really important – otherwise the child may fly out in a crash.

Using a booster seat too soon. Boosters shouldn’t be used until the child reaches 40 lbs. Many also recommend that a child also be at least four years old.

Last but not least, when installing a new seat, get it checked out by a certified inspector. I did this with both my infant seat and my convertible seat. Now that I have seen how the seats should be installed, I feel comfortable installing them myself when needed. I recommend calling your local fire department – it took a few tries, but I was finally able to find an inspector near where I live. And it’s free!

Some of these safety concerns are not governed by any laws. It’s up to you to make sure that your child is safely installed in his seat. Don’t be too quick to imitate what you see others doing – it may not be what is safest for your child.

More Carseat Basics.


Keep them rear-facing

February 15, 2010

Earlier this week I took out Calvin’s carseat so that I could clean the seat and install a seat protector. He is still rear-facing and his muddy little shoes were not playing nice with the interior of my new car. ┬áJust for kicks, I set the carseat in a forward-facing position and I let him sit in it. Wow, it was so nice… so much more room. I was tempted to install it like that, but I just couldn’t – not when he is only 17 months.

A few days later I stumbled across the following link: Why Rear Facing is Better. If you have a little one, please check this out. Just a few stats for you:

  • Forward-facing children under the age of 2 are 75% more likely to be injured.
  • Toddlers up to the age of 2 are more than 5 times safer riding rear-facing.
  • After reviewing studies from the U.S. and Sweden, a study published in the highly regarded British Medical Journal advises keeping children rear-facing until age 4.

Yes, it’s a bit of a sacrifice to keep Calvin rear-facing. He would probably enjoy the car more if he faced forward and I would definitely have an easier time getting him in and out. But I am resolved to keep him rear-facing until he reaches the weight limit on his seat – his safety is worth it.

Looking for a good convertible carseat at a reasonable price? I have The First Years True Fit and I love it. Similar to the pricey Marathon seats, this seat seems super comfy, is incredibly easy to install and one year later it still looks brand new.