Hey mamas, are you confused about the latest car seat safety standards? You aren’t alone! It seems like just a moment ago when everyone was turning their babies around at one...right? Well, things have changed. Being that September is Baby Safety Month, we thought it would be the perfect time to share car seat safety tips that every parent should know NOW. All us ‘rents want to keep our kiddos safe and wading through all the rules and recommendations, parent to parent judgements about what’s best, and whatnot, can be exhausting. We really wanted to help take the ambiguity out of today’s car seat safety rules, so we teamed up with Chicco for a Facebook Live from the Chicago Baby Show featuring a Q&A with pediatrician, and Chicco spokesperson, Dr. David Hill. In fact, if you missed it, you can watch the replay below.
During our chat, Dr. Hill talked about the importance of the #TurnAfter2 campaign. You have enough to worry about, ahem lack of sleep, you shouldn’t also have to also stress about being shamed for your safety choices or coming across as a shamer when sharing what you’ve learned with other parents. The #TurnAfter2 rule makes for a nice, simple way to relay the latest car seat safety standards with fellow parents. You see, the latest recommendation is that you turn your child around after they turn two. In a recent study, Chicco found that more than 40% of parents with kids under the age of two don’t know what the appropriate age is to turn their kids around to face forward. While the American Academy of Pediatrics actually made this recommendation around six years ago, not everyone has heard about it yet. So, Chicco has been focused on getting the word out as well as introducing their newest car seat, the Fit2 Infant & Toddler Car Seat, which is a two-stage rear-facing car seat that can comfortably accommodate a child safely from the day you bring your baby home from the hospital all the way through their second year.
And if you’ve ever wondered just why it is that you shouldn’t turn your child’s car seat around too early, it’s because rear-facing car seats are better at supporting the delicate head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers. In the event of a crash, a rear -facing seat will distribute the force of the collision to the entire body. Thus, your baby will be less likely to suffer from life threatening injuries or even death. As you can see, #TurnAfter2 really is an easy to remember safety rule every parent should follow!
In fact, we wanted to break things down for you even further, so after our Facebook Live we connected with Dr. Hill who answered even more car seat safety questions for us…
- How long should my child remain rear-facing, and is it really that much safer? Children riding rear-facing are five times safer in the event of an accident. That statistic alone is staggering and should convince parents to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation to keep children rear-facing until at least age two. Chicco just launched a public awareness campaign on this topic, TurnAfter2, giving parents a simple rule-of-thumb as a reminder. Only turn your child forward-facing when they reach the maximum length or weight requirements of the car seat.
- Does the recline of the seat make a difference in safety? Yes. Different vehicle models have different seats with varying angles. I recommend parents look for car seats that make it easy it easy for them to install correctly every time – and that includes ensuring they are at the proper recline angle. For example, Chicco car seats have bubble level indicators that show when the car seat is installed at the proper angle. This makes it even simpler for parents to understand if their seat is installed properly.
- My child doesn’t fit rear facing (knees in chest) is it still safe?Won’t they get hurt by not fitting properly if there is a crash? I see so many parents turn their child’s car seat from rear- to forward-facing too soon and there are so many reasons for it! Their legs look cramped, they want to see out the window, they want to see their child’s face, etc. Toddlers are much more flexible than adults, and while their legs may look squished, they’re a lot more comfortable than we would be in the same position. What we’re trying to protect, however, is their heads and necks, not their legs. The reality is that they’re five times safer rear-facing in the event of an accident – and safety should be the priority when it comes to our kids.
- I was in an accident but my car seat doesn’t appear damaged, do I still need to replace it? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that most car seats need to be replaced if they were in a vehicle that experience a crash — even if the child was not in the car seat during the crash and even if the car set appears to not be damaged. It’s always better to err on the safe side to ensure that you are getting the highest level of safety and performance from your car seat.
- Where is the safest place for a car seat to be installed? It’s imperative to make sure that you’re always installing your car seat correctly. When properly installed, the car seat should move less than an inch side-to-side or front-to-back relative to the seat belt or the lower anchors. Since the seat can be installed using either the belt of the lower anchors, many parents get confused. If using the lower anchors, it is crucial to make sure that they are in the right place in the back seat. Most vehicles only have lower anchors for the outboard seats (behind the driver and passenger seats), and not in the middle. The vehicle owner’s manual will show where they are located. Many parents use the anchors for the outboard seats with the car safety seat in the middle, and that is just not safe. If using the seat belt, it must be locked to properly attach the car safety seat.
- My child complains it’s too tight but any looser and I can still pinch it. How tight does the seatbelt need to be? One of the most common car seat errors is having the harness straps too loose. They should be snug over the shoulders, and this means that the parent cannot pick any slack between their fingers over the shoulder and collar-bone. The harness straps should be in the correct slots relative to the child: for the rear-facing position the straps should go in the slots at or below the child’s shoulders, and in the forward-facing position they should insert at or above the shoulders. The chest clip is essential for ensuring the straps stay properly positioned in a crash, and it should be at the level of the armpits.
So, now that you’re on board with the #TurnAfter2 initiative, get involved by taking a photo of your rear-facing child and sharing it along with the #TurnAfter2 hashtag. Let’s all help spread car seat safety awareness shall we?! Together, us parents make up a HUGE community and have the power to make such a difference!
This is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed are our own.