As a Houston area newborn photographer I have a pleasant amount of brand new babies coming into my studio. Usually they are still in their car seat when they arrive, sound asleep and dreaming peacefully! Unfortunately becoming a parent doesn’t come with a manual, and I have seen one too many precious babies that are actually not strapped in properly. I know exactly what you’re going through… I was once a new mother myself who had to learn proper car seat safety for my little ones. I was one of those moms who despite thinking I was bucking her car seat properly I wasn’t and I took someone speaking up to let me know this. I was a little embarrassed, but thankful that I now knew she was as safe as possible when we were in the car. As a parent, there’s no doubt that keeping your child safe is your most important job. One of the easiest ways to do so is to ensure baby is properly secured for every car ride, whether 5 or 50 miles long. So, just in case let’s go over how to do this properly 😉
It all starts with selecting the right car seat. Narrowing the market’s many options down to one seems daunting to most soon-to-be parents. Know that every new car seat has passed government safety regulations – the difference between one that’s $99 and one that’s $399 will be cosmetic upgrades, added conveniences, and extra safety features that go above the minimum requirements. Weigh the differences between an infant car seat and a convertible one. Consider a car seat’s compatibility with the stroller you intend to use as well as the vehicle it will be installed in! Try it out for size if possible and get extra practice securing it in your vehicle. When you secure the base into the car it should be very tight and not have any wiggle room. If you’re having trouble with this ask for help don’t hesitate to ask for help. Also, be sure to fill out the car seat registration form so that you can be notified of any possible recalls in the future.
Installing the car seat the correct way is paramount to the safety of your little one. Those extra safety features you may have paid for can only be effective when the entire seat is installed correctly! You can find certified child passenger safety technicians – usually at local hospitals and fire stations – that can offer additional support in making sure the seat is installed as it should be. The middle seat in the back is typically the safest spot in the vehicle, however, any rear seat where it can be fastened properly is the best. Whether using the LATCH or the seat belt method, be sure it is strapped in as tightly as possible and that the seat is angled correctly for your child.
Once your baby is snuggled into the seat, make sure the straps come out at or just below their shoulders and that the chest clip is level with their armpits. The harness should be good and snug, with only one of your fingers being able to slide underneath. Don’t attempt to buckle over bulky outerwear or thick layers – these could compress in the event of a crash, leaving the straps too loose to keep your tiny one safe. While going in and out during cold weather, buckle your baby in light layers and keep them warm with a thick car seat blanket.
Remember that how you use your baby’s car seat is far more important than which one you use. Be sure to inform anyone that might be driving your baby at any time about these safety guidelines. These small but important reminders will help keep that precious cargo safe while on each and every adventure!