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Friday, May 17, 2013

Child Safety Part 2

This blog is going to concentrate on the little ones that would be most safe utilizing a rear-facing only seat or a rear-facing convertible seat.  These are only general guidelines and do not constitute any recommendation of manufacturer of car seats.

 Infants and toddlers should always ride in a rear-facing car seat until they reach 2 years old or they reach the highest weight/height recommended by the car seat’s manufacturer.  If a crash happens, a rear-facing only car seat may cradle the child's neck to protect it and help protect against any spinal cord injury.

Rear-facing only car seats are used for infants for approximately 22 pounds, depending on the model. Though convertible seats can be used for a newborn, they will likely fit better in an infant seat. Convertible seats are best for when a baby's weight reaches the infant seat's limit, which may be as early as 6 to 9 months old.

These seats are usually small, have handles and usually have a base that stays in the car. Sometimes they come as part of a stroller system.  The seat clicks into and out of the base so you don’t have to reinstall every time you want to travel. Plus you can usually buy an additional base for another vehicle. With its removable carrier and swing-up handle, an infant seat lets you move your baby in and out of the car without disturbing him. Though it might be a better value to jump into a convertible seat first, infant seats, by their design, tend to be more compact and secure infants better when compared to larger convertible models.

The main feature of a convertible car seat which is different than other models of car seat is that they can adapt to suit the needs of your growing child and feature an adjustable harness to fit your child. Convertible car seats generally have padding in the side of the car seat for side impact protection (SIP) and they are generally LATCH equipped. The convertible seats have a 5-point harness that attaches at the shoulders, at the hips and between the legs. They are larger so be sure there is room in the car.  Also, make sure that the seat belt or LATCH belt is routed through the correct belt path.  If you are not sure, it only takes a few minutes to get it checked out to be safe.

When the child reaches the recommended weight for the current car seat you will need to start shopping around for a front facing car seat or turn your convertible car seat around. Always adhere to the suggested weight because some children grow in height quickly and without putting on the weight. Don't worry if the child's feet hit the back of the seat.  When my grandson started kicking the back of the seat I was tempted to turn the car seat around. Instead I just took his shoes off and let him kick away.  It didn't hurt the seat and my grandson remained protected. Luckily. children tend to be contortionists and having their legs bent is not usually a problem.

Another good rule of thumb is, when you only have one car seat to deal with, place it in the middle of the seat.  This minimizes the chance of side impact injuries. And always, always check with a professional to make sure the car seat is attached correctly. 

In my next blog I will be discussing front facing car seats and booster seats.  Let me know if you have any questions or a topic to discuss.