7 car seat rules for a smooth ride
- Soft is safe
When shopping for a car seat, think about all the accumulated hours that your baby will be spending in it. Most babies are happiest in seats that are soft. Stiff leather can get painfully sticky and hot during humid weather, and rougher fabrics may irritate her skin. It's also important not to put a blanket under your baby in a car seat or under the straps, since this can lead to overheating.
- Watch those straps!
Think about happens when part of your sock bunches up inside your shoe during a walk or run - after awhile, your foot starts to blister. Twisted car seat straps can cause similar pain for your baby. So when you buckle her in, make sure all of those straps are looking straight and flat.
- Cover up that buckle
If it’s a scorching day, you’ll want to shield the car seat buckles with a piece of fabric or, better yet, a padded buckle cover. Not only will this lower the risk of your baby being burned if the buckle becomes too hot from the sun, but it can also prevent ambitious babies from unfastening the buckle altogether!
- Check your position
Every car is different when it comes to air vent placement. Before you strap your baby into her seat for a drive, make sure you haven’t put the seat directly in the path of the car’s ventilation system. Too much hot or cold air will make it impossible for her to fully relax.
- Create an atmosphere
your baby’s car seat is sufficiently secured. You’re ready to hit the road, but you still need to strap her in without triggering a meltdown. One great way to improve the odds of an outburst-free baby loading is to start the car before buckling her in. This way, the air conditioning system gets a chance to bring the car’s internal temperature to a more comfortable level. You’ll also avoid startling your baby with the sudden growl of an engine VROOM-ing to life.
- Eyes in the back of your head
You don’t have eyes everywhere, and those rear-facing car seats can make keeping an eye on your baby tricky, but a car-mounted mirror or two can give the illusion that you're all-seeing - and help you make sure that your baby is happy and healthy all through your car trip without having to twist around at an awkward angle. This is only a good idea if it won't tempt you to take your eyes off the road when that's where they need to be, though - road safety with your baby in the car is your baby's safety, even if she asks you to direct your attention at her instead.
- Safety first, second, last
Car seats should always be correctly installed, recommended for your child's weight group, and facing in the right direction, which, until your baby is at least 2, is facing the rear of the car. Food and toys may be a nice distraction while your baby is in the car, but they could also present a choking hazard or, for soft toys when she is very young, a suffocation risk. And even the safest of car seats is no replacement for your supervision.
- “Car Seats: Information for Families.” HealthyChildren. American Academy of Pediatrics, July 8 2017. Retrieved October 25 2017. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Car-Safety-Seats-Information-for-Families.aspx.
- “Car Seat Safety: Newborn to 2 Years.” CHOP. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Retrieved October 25 2017. http://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/car-seat-safety-kids/car-seat-safety-by-age/newborn-2-years.
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