Fitting a car seat might seem easy, but it can be a complicated task and the true reality is a lot of children aren’t riding as securely as they should be. There are many do and don’ts when it comes to keeping your little one safe in the car, so to help you out, we’ve put together some of the most common mistakes you could be making with your child in the car.
Mistake 1: Choosing the wrong seat
There are so many car seat options out there – you’ve got infant seats, booster seats, rear facing, forward facing and so on. The child and baby car seat laws changed in the UK last year making regulations stricter, and therefore a lot safer for children.
Under these new laws, children who weigh over 22kg or more, or are 125cm, will be able to use backless booster seats and all children under 12 years old or, measuring smaller than 4 ft. 5 inches tall (135cm) must travel in a car seat.
Babies under 9kg must travel in a baby carrier and not a child seat. Car seats also need to be replaced when a baby’s head is level with the top of the seat, as this means they are now growing too big for the seat.
Finally, never use a second hand car seat. You cannot be sure whether or not it has been in an accident or if it’s past its expiration date, which is usually six years after its date of manufacture.
Avoid making mistakes with car seats by properly doing your research on what is best suited for your child.
Mistake 2: Improper installation of the car seat
There is absolutely no shame in reading the manual and trying to figure it out for yourself. You need to make sure the car seat is fitted correctly into the car for maximum safety and protection for your child.
Make sure the car seat won’t budge from side to side and check the straps of the harness are snug against the baby’s body when they’re strapped in.
Mistake 3: Improper buckling
Not buckling the safety harness in correctly works in conjunction with the above point and is one of the most common mistakes parents make. The safety harness needs to be against your child’s lap and across the chest at armpit level. We recommend you do what is called a pinch test – if there’s enough space that you can wrinkle a bit of the strap between your fingers, it’s not tight enough.
Mistake 4: Switching to a forward facing seat too soon
You shouldn’t make the switch to a forward facing seat until your child is two years old or, until they exceed the height or weight limit for the seat they are currently in. This is because before the age of two, your baby’s bones are still developing so the safest position for them to sit in is a rear facing seat, where their back and body are the strongest when it comes to an accident.
Mistake 5: Buckling them in the car seat with their coats on
This is one of the most important things to remember during the winter. Although it will keep them warm and cosy you shouldn’t put your child in their car seat wearing a coat. Their coats will create a padding between the car seat and your child, therefore it doesn’t allow the straps to tighten as tightly as they should. They may look tight, but they won’t be and in the event of an accident your child won’t be protected.
If you have made these common mistakes, don’t worry – you won’t be the only one. Just understand how important these mistakes are and learn from them for a safer drive in the future.