Car Seat Safety Tips for Parents Traveling With Small Children
When it comes to traveling by car with little ones, parents want to be prepared to make the trip as safe as possible. It’s not always easy to know what to do to protect your children, which is why you can find different resources online to help guide parents on how to keep kids safe in and around vehicles. As a mom of four and as a certified car seat safety instructor, I encourage parents to do their research on vehicle safety. Below are four tips for choosing the right car seat.
One of my favorite sites to help parents find the right car seat for their situation is Healthy Children, which is from the American Academy of Pediatrics. They have a list of car seats on the market each year that gives the sizes and prices of each car seat.
Parents should remember that four things need to be true for a car seat to be the right one for them:
1. The car seat must fit your child.
You should choose your car seat based on your child’s age and size. As children grow they may no longer fit in the same seat. Check the manual for your car seat to determine the maximum weight and height allowed by the manufacturer.
2. The car seat must fit your car.
Car seats are not designed to fit every vehicle. To make sure it’s the right fit for your vehicle you should test the car seat that you are planning to buy and also read the car seat section of your vehicle’s owner’s manual for more information.
3. The car seat should fit your budget.
Car seats can be expensive but just because it costs more does not mean it’s a better choice. Making sure that it’s the right fit for your child and vehicle are the better criteria to go by. Choose the car seat that best suits your needs. Keep in mind you should never purchase a used car seat without knowing the history of the seat and checking to see if it has been recalled. If you have any questions about the seat, call the car seat manufacturer.
4. Most importantly, you need to use the car seat correctly EVERY time.
You have to make sure that your car seat is facing the right direction according to your child’s age. Infants and toddlers under age 2 should ride in rear-facing car seats. It’s also important that you use harness straps and chest clips correctly so they fit snugly across your child’s body. Always follow the instructions from the car seat manufacturer to ensure that you are following all of the guidelines.
Just because a seat is fancy or a brand name doesn’t mean it is the right one. Every car seat on the market meets all of the U.S. standards for car seat safety. Cup holders, colorful decorations, or licensed characters do not help at all with safety.
Find a car seat inspection station near you at http://www.nhtsa.gov/apps/cps/index.htm. A certified technician will inspect your car seat and show you the correct way to install it.
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