Of all the intimidating parts of parenthood, car seat installation ranks among the most frightening. Since models of car seats – and cars themselves – can vary so drastically, many parents are left second-guessing whether or not they’ve installed their little ones’ car seat properly. When the safety of your child is on the line, though, second guesses simply don’t cut it.
Choosing the Right Seat
Before installation can happen, it’s important to choose the right car seat for your needs. Kids under the age of two years old should always be placed in a rear-facing car seat. These come in three different models: infant, convertible and three-in-one, which allow your baby to stay rear-facing for longer. Only after your child has reached the weight and height limits of their rear-facing seat should they graduate to a forward-facing option. While parents might be eager to move their children through car seat milestones, experts agree: rear-facing seats are safer for little ones.
While you’re shopping around for the best car seat for your family, see how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rates the models you’re considering. Any NHTSA-approved car seat will be safe, but the organization uses a five-star system to rate the ease of use of a given car seat. Why bother fiddling with complicated straps or questioning how to install the car seat base when you can allow NHTSA to simplify things for you?
How to Install a Car Seat
Before you select a car seat, pull out your car’s owner’s manual and check if there are any safety considerations to factor into the installation process. Some cars have specific guidelines on the kinds of car seats that will work successfully with their design, so it’s worth doing your homework. Knowing your car’s design can help you choose the seat that’s right for your family.
When you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and install the car seat, you’ll want to crawl into the back. For a rear-facing car seat, attach the latch straps on the base to the anchors in the vehicle’s seat. Tighten the belt around the base of the car seat to secure it. Give the base a firm jiggle to confirm it’s secure.
To install a car seat facing forward, you will also attach the latch straps on the car seat base to the anchors of your car’s back seat. Be sure to check your vehicle owner’s manual to locate the tether anchor in your car. Take the strap at the top of the car seat and connect it to the tether anchor to finish.
Before you hit the road, double check that you’ve installed the seat correctly. One of the most common mistakes? Not securing the car seat snugly enough. Make sure the car seat doesn’t move back and forth or side to side more than one inch in any direction.
If you’re still feeling unsure of yourself, bring your car seat to a safety event hosted by the Safe Kids Coalition in your area. These groups host more than 8,000 free car seat inspection events each year. While it can be tough admitting you need help, there’s no shame in reaching out to the experts for guidance. A safety technician can walk you through precisely how to install your car seat and show you how to double check your installation before hitting the highway.
Protecting Your Precious Cargo
Safe installation of your car seat is just the beginning. You can’t hit the road until you’ve buckled everyone up safely. When you’re fastening seat belts and buckling little ones into their car seats, make sure the shoulder straps come in right at or just below their shoulders. This will allow you to fit the strap easily between their legs.
Modeling safe behaviors in the car can never start too soon. Once you’ve got your child safely buckled up, be sure that you fasten your seat belt, too. Avoid using your cell phone when driving. Some experts believe distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, if not worse. In addition to being incredibly unsafe, cell phone use while driving can result in a traffic citation. When possible, travel with a co-pilot to limit distractions. Having someone to manage both your cell phone communications and back seat behavior while you focus on the road is truly invaluable.
Parents should also check their auto insurance policy to ensure their coverage is sufficient after adding a new member to the family. Even if you don’t plan to drive with your baby in the car regularly, informing your insurance company of your new addition will ensure that your family’s best interests are protected in case of an accident. While you’re on the phone with your insurer, consider increasing your personal injury protection coverage. Should someone in your car be injured in a crash, you’ll be glad you were proactive.
If you’re in the market for auto insurance or looking to find out how much you could save get a auto insurance quote instantly. With Wawanesa you will have the coverage you need to protect your little ones in no time.