Thursday, March 1, 2012

8 more DEADLY Car Seat Mistakes

I'm going to start this one off by just saying how completely amazed I am by the response to this blog. It all started off with a couple of people in a Facebook group tossing around ideas about how a post should be made to help them approach their friends about their car seat use, in a non-confrontational way.

I expected to see 10-20 views of the blog and that would have made me extremely happy, but when I logged in tonight to nearly 10,000 page hits, I was shocked! Never in a million years did I think I'd see the day.

Of course, since it has become so widely distributed in such a short period of time, I have gotten numerous emails and comments about how I "should have included ______" and "why did you leave out ______." So again, I'll explain, it was never ever intended to be read by thousands of people (not that I am complaining-keep on spreading the word and save some babies!) The one complain that I have heard the most is that I didn't even touch the subject of extended rear facing sooooo if you were one of those people, the reason was that for the few friends I wrote this for, all of them already rear face past a year, it wasn't even worth the time to explain because it was common knowledge, and I like I said, I had no clue anyone else would ever read this.

Now that I realize that people are watching however, I decided to create a second part to the original, so that I can include all of the things I initially didn't have time for.

If you are just tuning in, go ahead and check out the original first here: 11 Deadly Mistakes You Didn't Know You Were Making or if you are looking for a condensed version to share with your friends that are usually put off by your excessive informative article sharing (believe me, I do it!) this may be a better fit for you/them: Car Seat Safety For the Minimalist And for anyone who thinks of something I have missed, feel free to comment or email me at candicekellie@gmail.com and I'll gladly add it in.

Lastly, like I mentioned, this was/is my personal blog as well, which is why the music is on autoplay. If it interferes with you reading the post, or hearing the audio in the videos, scroll to the very bottom and you can pause it :)


So here it is:

8 more DEADLY mistakes you didn't know you were making!

#8 Forward Facing Too Early

Before we get started, yes I understand the law states you can turn your child forward facing at age 1 or 20lbs/1 and 20lbs (depending on where you live). I know many people who have said "If it weren't safe, it wouldn't be legal!" Just because it is legal, do you really think it is safe? Cigarettes and alcohol are both legal, so that is a bad argument. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear facing until AT LEAST the age of 2- "at least" being the key words.

Studies have shown that extended rear facing is FIVE times safer in the majority of auto accidents (that’s 500%). When a child is rear facing, the seat absorbs most of the crash forces. The seat distributes the force of the crash over the entire body which helps protect the head, neck, and spine of your child. When a child is forward facing in an accident, the head abruptly moves forward and this puts stress on their neck and spine and in even some minor crashes, the spinal column can stretch too far and snap, causing death.

Extended rear facing does not mean cramming your child into an infant carrier. There are many options out there for a convertible car seat that will allow your child to rear face well into the toddler years, and comfortably at that!

Common misconceptions about rear facing a toddler:

-“My toddler has really long legs so he will be uncomfortable.” or "My child is too big"

These are both untrue in most cases. Young children are flexible and they easily position themselves to be comfortable. They simply bend their legs, prop them up on the back seat, dangle them over the sides or sit cross legged. ALL of these are comfortable for a child. Don't believe me? Call your child over to you and tell them to have a seat. I can guarantee you that the majority of children will not come and sit with their legs straight out in front of them, so why should they sit that way in a car seat. Did you know that forward facing for too long (road trips etc) can actually cut off their circulation, so not only making it uncomfortable, but painful too?
-“If they have long legs couldn’t they break in a crash if they are rear faced?”
Yes, although unlikely, their legs could possibly break, but as of now, there are ZERO documented cases of broken legs, hips, feet etc due to rear facing. Studies actually show that forward facing kids are more likely to injure their legs in a crash from being thrown forward into the seat in front of them. Either way, broken legs-cast it...broken neck-casket. Which would you prefer?
-“My child cries too much, she isn't happy if she can't see me"
While I understand it may be frustrating, your main focus should always be on driving and not trying to keep your child happy. She may be upset, but at least you know she is safe. If you turned her forward facing, she may be happy for a little while, but soon the excitement will wear off and she will still be crying every time she gets in the car. It's not rear facing they hate (especially when they don't know anything else), it's being strapped down.
"My parents did it and I lived"
You're right...congrats. Now, tell me how many people in the world cannot say that because...well, they aren't alive to say it. There are people who can say that they swam in shark-infested waters with steaks tied around their extremities and they lived...but I don't think I'd recommend it for everyone else to do.
There are many, many more excuses I have heard as to why parents don't rear face their children past the bare minimum, but it all boils down to just that: they are excuses. Not one is valid. If you really think you have a good reason not to, feel free to comment on here and I will address each one individually.

Kaylee at 14.5 months and 22lbs, rear facing in a Radian XTSL. She is completely content and her legs do not even touch the seat. She will easily fit in this seat beyond 2 years.

I found the shortest, straight to the point videos I can find so as not to lose your interest. Here is a forward vs rear facing video:

Here is a short clip of a forward facing crash test


And here is a rear facing crash test clip



#7 Not knowing when your child REALLY outgrows their rear facing seat.

1 inch.
1 inch from the top of the shell is a rule of thumb for the majority of infant seats.

What does that mean?

If your child's seat is one of those and his head is hanging over PAST the top of his car seat (while rear facing), he has outgrown it. If his head is flush with the top of his car seat (while rear facing), he has outgrown it. His must not extend past 1 inch from the top of the seat. This inch ensures that as the child slides up the seat in a crash, his head will stay protected.

Now, there are some seats (more often than not, they are convertibles that have a specific height limit. Diono brand seats use a 1.5" rules as opposed to one inch. To determine what the guidelines are for your seat, always consult the manual.

Now this doesn't always mean you need to forward face, especially if your child is just tall. There are many other options in the store and you can always go and let your child sit in each one to see how long the seat will last you, before you purchase it. Given the design of most car seats, the majority of children become too tall for rear-facing seats before they become too heavy. If you have tall children, keep that in mind when looking for new seats, and always try to get one that has a taller shell height. If you need any help with car seat recommendations, shoot me an email or post a comment. If I don't have the answer for you, I'll get you in touch with someone that does.


#6 Car seats do NOT belong on a shopping cart





Every time I tell a group of friends this, one person inevitably says "oh I wouldn't do it if I didn't know it was perfectly safe, but mine snaps on perfectly"

No...it doesn't.

Every infant car seat manual, I repeat, EVERY infant car seat manual says not to attach it to a shopping cart.

***EDIT*** I was informed that Babytrend does allow you to use their car seat on a cart *if it locks on* Sadly, I checked it and their manual does say this. However, we owned a flex-loc with my youngest daughter and on numerous occasions, before we knew better, we tried to put the seat on top of carts (Wal-mart and Target) and even when it was locked onto the cart, a simple jolt was enough to unlatch it. Looks like I will be making a call to Baby Trend today because in my opinion, they should not be encouraging something that is potentially very dangerous.

But if it appears to snap on, then what's the big deal? The problem lies in the fact that something as simple as a child running around the store and bumping into your cart and that car seat that you THOUGHT was latched on, can cause your baby (and seat) to be upside down on the concrete floor in a split second. Studies show over 80% of all car seat/shopping cart accidents happen within an arm's reach of the carrier so the "I always am RIGHT THERE" line just doesn't work.

Car seats are meant to latch onto 2 things: the base or the stroller. NOTHING ELSE. Each of these has a special bar, that matches up with that exact car seat type.

Each year, over 21,000 injuries occur because of babies falling out of the cart. Please don't let your child be a statistic. There are other solutions: baby wearing, leaving baby with another person while you shop, or put the entire carrier inside the cart if you must, not ON it.




#5 Projectiles can KILL your child...or you!


Reposted from "The Guggie Daily" Facebook page

Basically, if it wouldn't be safe to throw an item at your child's face with all of your strength (not saying you have to try it out), it should not be left unsecured in your vehicle. A trunk, a glove compartment, a center console: these all can store the things you think you need to take with you on a trip. Stuff the diaper bag under the seat.

You may not think a cell phone could do that much damage. The weight of an object, multiplied by the speed at which you're traveling equals the force at which that item would hit something if your car comes to a sudden stop (like hitting something head on). What does an average cell phone weigh these days? 6oz? So you take 6oz and multiply it by the speed you are traveling...let's say, 45mph? 6 x 45 is 270. 270oz or about 17lbs. Would you ever consider throwing a 17lb object at your child?

Read JD's story

Time to go clean out the car!

#4 Infant carrier postion handle does matter.



A lot of people believe that the carrier handle must always be down in the car.
Even more people believe that the carrier handle can be in "carry" position.

They are both right.
And they are both wrong...
depending on the car seat each person has.

Consult this chart (or your manual) for your safe travel handle positions- each manufacturer has different rules, based on what has been crash tested to be safe. Usually, if a car seat has a reinforced handle, the manufacturer allows for it to be in any position.

This is the most current chart in circulation but it is always a good idea to check your manual:



#3 Car seat installation MUST BE TIGHT

Deja Vu?

Nope, I just figured it was important enough to repeat.

Depending on which study you quote, anywhere from 80-99% of car seats are installed incorrectly.

Remember, no more than an inch of movement side to side at the base. (Chances are if you grab the top of the seat, it will move more, but we are concerned about the base here)

#2 Moving to a booster too early is a step down in safety!


Provided that your child does not exceed weight limits, and their straps come out above their shoulder level, they should remain in a 5 point harness. Basically, if they fit in a 5-point harness, there is no reasoning to "graduating" them to a booster.

Without any words at all, this video speaks very loudly


Many car seats accommodate older children in a 5pt harness for a longer than average time.


This harness could stand to be moved up 1/2 an inch or so, but it was only for picture purposes.
This is Avery, she will be 7 in April. She weighs 45lbs, is 46inches, and still has 1 more slot to go (so another couple of inches of growth) before she outgrows her 5-point harness. (Recaro ProSport combination seat)


A lot of 5 point harnesses offer more side impact protection than boosters, especially backless boosters which is a given. Does your child have a tendency to lean over and poke their brother? Reach to the ground to get toys? Fall asleep? If your child does not possess the ability to stay upright and with the belt positioned correctly at all times, it is safer to stay in a 5 point harness.

#1 Not registering your car seat

Each seat comes with a product registration postcard. Tear it off and mail it in to the manufacturer. This ensures that if there are any recalls, they can get a hold of you quickly to let you know to discontinue using that seat.

If you don't register your product, you may not know that the seat you have has been recalled for straps loosening on their own...and what if yours does that in a wreck?

It is VERY important to have your car seat registered.

And I'm guilty, 0 out of 3 of mine are registered. I'm trying to justify it because I check the recall site weekly, but still, I should just send the post cards back.

If you lost your registration card, call your manufacturer and they can either register you over the phone, walk you through the process online, or send you a replacement card.

************

If you haven't noticed the trend already, the only way you can ever be sure your child is as safe as possible is by checking with the manufacturer. When in doubt, consult your manual! It has the answers to EVERYTHING :)


So is there anything I missed? Feel free to send me your "deadly mistakes" and I'll add it to the list!

118 comments:

  1. Love this! I'm guilty of not registering my car seats too.

    My little one will be 4 in August, and at the rate she's growing she'll still be rearfacing at that point. She asks daily to be turned around, I use that as a way to get her to eat all of her food. "You have to be so tall and weigh so much if you want to turn around so you need to eat all your veggies."

    There can NEVER be enough car seat safety posts!

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    1. lol I love it, maybe I need to start telling my son that! He never wants to eat.

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    2. I had someone tell me if I check my car seat as baggage, that it will be considered 'totaled' and shouldn't use it. Is that true? I've tried contacting the manufacturer, and had no luck with a response.

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  2. I just found your blog ! love it !
    My DD is 3 and RFing, and will be for another couple of years I assume .
    I am VERY guilty about 2 things though, not registering and projectiles :( we try very hard but we have things in the car constantly, i need to fix this issue !

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  3. Two things that you didn't mention:
    Car seats have an expiration date. It is either 5 years from the manufacture date or an expiration date is printed on the seat somewhere (usually on the bottom). Never buy a used one for this reason and unless you know someone really well, never borrow one from someone.
    If you have been in a car accident, get a new car seat. An accident weakens the materials and renders the seat unsafe. Most police officers will inform you of this, but you can go to police stations or fire stations and they should have someone to assist you with questions about whether or not the seat is still safe. They can also help you install it properly.

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    1. Those are all things that were actually mentioned :) This is part 2 of a 3 part car seat series :) Feel free to look at the other two.

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  4. I do love all of this I of,I am the car seat police in my family. I do have to point out thatmy safety first infant carrier was aloud to be in a cart as long as it latched, a funny story actually, I was at the store and I put the seat in the cart (Walmart) I did my shopping, I was leaving the store and I went to grab the seat and I could NOT for the life of me get it out of the CRT (this is before I knew you could latch a seat into the cart) I had to call my husband almost in tears because I felt like joyce a moron for not being able to get the seat out of the art and I needed help! When he got there he simply unlocked it...I like the think it was my postpartum emotions! But it did lock wonderfully in that cart, target, and our local grocery store.

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    1. I am a CPST and I know what you are referring to. I often stop parents and show them that even though the seat is latched, if the cart tilts to the side then the seat will come off, even if you cannot get it off by pulling up on it. So again there is that false sense of security that the seat is snapped on tight and not going anywhere when in reality it is not. Be careful.

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  5. I agree with you that children should stay RF as long as possible as a safety issue, but I want to point out that you contradicted yourself...you said that one of the arguments was that "my child isn't happy unless they can see me" but then went on to say that while you're driving, paying attention to driving is your priority...for argument's sake, if your child is crying or screaming their head off, you won't be able to pay attention to driving...
    There are ways to make your child happier to be in a car seat - get a vehicle DVD player and attach it to the headrest for them (obviously make sure it's strapped in tight) or a mirror so they can see themselves and you, or play music they like (they make toddler/kids CDs now...).
    Also, granted it is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for them to be rear facing until at least 2, doctors now are telling us that they have to say this, but our practice has told us they feel it is safe to use one FF as long as it is installed properly and the child is latched in properly.
    Last I wanted to remind everyone to make sure when you purchase a convertible car seat that you intend you use RF, make sure it will fit RF in your vehicle - seems dumb, but we experienced it! We had registered for a convertible car seat and were given it before I delivered, but intended on using our infant seat as long as we could...we had to move DD to the convertible by 9 months because of how long she was (doctor's office and car seat inspectors both confirmed), so as we went to install the convertible, we were shocked that our older model car (2002) was too small - if we installed it rear facing, either the driver was WAY too close to the steering wheel or the front passenger would have been WAY too close to the air bag/dash board (and we couldn't do it in the middle because it affected both seats then), so we had to bite the bullet and install it in the older model and switch cars (the older car ate way too much gas and DH drives 45 min each way to work, so the newer car was the smarter choice for him to use - oh well).
    I will say, though, that I am guilty of the projectiles - I never thought about putting the diaper bag under the seat...but I do have a question: I have a 2007 RAV4, so there is no trunk - what do I do about items in the trunk (stroller, store purchases, etc.) - I can find a way to secure down the other items and put the bag under the seat, but how do you handle those items?
    BTW, I wanted to say - these were all great tips!!

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    1. Laina, I am no expert, but I just "projectile-proofed" our SUV after reading some rather disturbing stories about people being injured and/or killed by projectiles during an accident. I did a lot of research and found that there are products called separation nets which block off the back portion of the SUV. We bought one that was made specifically for our vehicle, but there are some after-market products available as well (check amazon for cargo barriers). I also bought some bungee cord type products to secure things down as well (things like the stroller, etc). There are also cargo nets you can buy for groceries and such. Hope that helps!

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  6. I know this does not pertain to car seats specifically, but remember to keep your car free of loose toys, cds, dvds, and other debris as they become projectiles if you are in a crash. Just another tid bit to add to the safety of our kids!

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  7. Where is part 3? I read the first one and followed the link to this post.

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  8. My baby boy is 6 months old and VERY long for his age, so he seems very uncomfortable in his infant carrier (Chicco Keyfit 30). I would be interested in your recommendations for convertible seats that accomodate taller kids longer. We also have a fairly small car (VW Golf TDI), which will make it more challenging to fit a tall shell. Thanks in advance for your reply (you can also email me at Sabine dot Graham at Gmail dot com, no spaces).

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    1. We had an Evenflo Triumph RF in our previous car, which was a 4-door Honda Civic...maybe comparable in size to your car? It was in the middle seat, but it fit and we liked it a lot. You can go to Babies R Us and actually try seat out in your car with your kid to make sure it fits, etc. That's what we did! GL!

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    2. I don't know if you found a seat yet, but search for the "Car Seat Questions" board on Babycenter.com's community section. They have lots of experts who have tried many seats in many different cars, and based on your budget, vehicle, and child's stats (percentiles in particular), they can suggest seats for you. Some seats (like Diono brand) can brace against the front seat if you car allows it, so a tall shell can fit better in the vehicle then.

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  9. Thank you for spreading the word. A lot of people don't know those things (guilty at the projectile part). One thing I want to mention and I'm sure you already have it planned for part 3, but it drives me nuts when I see people attaching accessories to their kids seats that are aftermarket products and not approved by the manufacturer. Like strap cushions, those wrap around sleeping pillows, cooling mesh pillows so baby won't sweat etc. Most of them are NOT approved (unless they come with the seat or sold by the car set manufacturer). Yet I see them everywhere (i was guilty of those strap cushions for my infant seat until I knew better). Just because the store sells them doesn't make them safe.
    I really like your blog. My 19 month old is still RF and perfectly fine. She is on the taller side but has no problems and seems to be comfy. She will be RF for at least another year.

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    1. My 20-month-old is still RF as well and has absolutely no problem being that way! She even has a 4-year-old sister who is FF, but still doesn't realize the difference. I actually think they can see each other better and interact more with one RF and the other FF!

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  10. I have been obsessed with car safety and car seat safety since my first child was born in 2008. Most recently I have become re-obsessed since I re-read my 4-year-old's high-back booster instructions and realized that she was only 1 pound shy of having to switch her out of the 5-point harness and start using her seat with the seat belt. I didn't like the idea and then realized that some booster seats had a higher weight limit for the harness. That's all I needed to know to decide that I was going to purchase a new seat--one that she would be able to use with the 5-point harness for as long as possible. I got the new seat and read the instruction manual. I learned something new (which maybe is worth a mention here) about there being a weight limit for using the latch system to secure the car seat to the car. For most vehicles, the latch system should only be used if your child is under 40 pounds. For other vehicles the latch will work until your child is 48 pounds. My vehicle's max weight is 40 pounds. I didn't find that information in my vehicle's owner's manual (it wasn't in there, which I find ridiculous), but did some research online and got the answer to my question. This is not that big of a deal--it just meant that we had to use the seat belt to secure the seat in our car. Then, during that research I also came across some information that informed me that not only does the latch system have a maximum weight capacity, but so does the tether strap anchor (the anchor you use to attach the strap that holds the top of the car seat). For my vehicle the max weight you can use the tether strap is 40 pounds as well!! The instructions for the seat I just purchased (Graco Nautilus) say that the tether strap must be used when using the seat with the harness. So I am in a predicament. Should I ignore the 40-pound weight limit for the tether strap anchor and continue to use the booster (attached to the tether anchor) with the harness past 40 pounds, or should I switch my daughter to the high-back booster without the harness (which no longer would need tethered)? Any information anyone knows about this would be greatly appreciated. I really would like to keep my daughter harnessed as long as possible, but a new car is not an option for us at this time!

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    1. Absolutely continue using the top tether. It is a supplementary anchor to limit head excursion (IOW, helps keep your child's head from hitting something else in the vehicle). It's not meant to completely restrain the car seat. The vast majority of the force is on the seatbelt. IF the top tether was to give way, it would do so AFTER it did it's job of limiting forward movement. Up here in Canada, top tethers have been required in ALL forward-facing installations for ~20 years (maybe more?), and I've never heard a report of a tether anchor failure.

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  11. I hear you about not being able to replace the car! We own a 1995 ES-300 Lexus, with leather seats... no matter what I do, I cannot get our car seat for out 15 month old daughter to be secured tightly. It has sloped sides on the edges, and no LATCH system to use to assist in securing. We went to the local Police station, and the only advice they had after wrestleing with if for maybe 15 minutes was to put a couple of blankets underneath it before having someone lean on it so that you can cinch it down via the seatbelt. Do you have any other ideas??

    I looked into installing the LATCH system, and it was almost 2,000... half the value of the car, so not an option, but the blanked hack just doesnt seem right... Also, any tips for putting two car seats in a small car (we are expecting our second child in June and are wondering how to get the second car seat in with the other hogging part of the middle area!)

    Thanks in advance!

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    1. NO BLANKETS!! You're absolutely right to call it a hack. I really wish cops & firefighters wouldn't play carseat installer. And whoever said they could install LATCH was making stuff up. It can't be safely retrofitted. Seat belts work great. Worst case scenario is you decide to get a seat that's easier to install, but I bet you can make this work.

      What seat are you trying to install? Do you have locking seatbelts, or do you need a locking clip? Try moving the front seat all the way forward and upright so you can get your body between the car seat and the front seat (hopefully -- otherwise, you'll have to install from the side, still do-able). Find a way to access the belt path so you can pull tight from inside the seat, rather than from the side of the seat.

      Lean your body into the car seat, and push down & back towards the seat bight with one hand. Pull the belt tight from the inside of the seat with the other hand. Rock the car seat side-to-side as you tighten.

      For 2 seats in a small car, you either need 2 narrow seats, or they both need to be outboard.

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    2. We have a Graco, it works forward facing, but it does not fit backward facing due to the sloping on the seats. We have locking clips that came with the car seat, but there is no where to clip them to... we also have the clips that can be put on the seat belt to secure itself to itself... I will attempt your ideas tomorrow... thanks!

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    3. If there is too much of a slope a pool noodle or rolled up towel are both approved to get the proper recline in a rear facing position. A locking clip is actually the little clip that attached to the seat belt to lock the seatbelt in place if your seat belts don't have retractsble locking. I would try to find a cpst nearby, visit safekids.org and put in your zip code.q

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    4. How do I get locking clips? we recently had to buy an older van to replace our totaled van (we did replace the car seats that were in the van) and the seat belts do not lock. (when pulled abruptly hard they do, so they will lock in an accident.) I've always been nervous about them not locking into position.

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    5. I do not know about police but fire fighters have to be certified car seat techs, so no body is "playing" car seat installer. They do know what they are doing and will do whatever they can to help your child safe.

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    6. You can get locking clips at any auto supply shop (think Auto Zone, etc.)

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  12. That's a great idea, baby will never suffer from hard position!

    Auto Glass repair Minneapolis

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  13. Also, attaching and placing toys in the seat with the child. This seems incredibly dangerous and ignorant to me. It's like putting a projectile in the seat with the child!

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  14. Was it mentioned that when buying or taking a used car seat from anyone that they should be sure that it has not been in an accident and check the condition of the straps etc? Also there are programs out there that take old car seats and give you a new one free!

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  15. Another great article, but I would love to see you add information on how to measure your kids for rear facing. Most people look from the front towards the child, or use straight lines, which makes many people think their child has out grown a seat, way before they actually have. This site has a great explaination on how to measure your kids, to see if they have outgrown their seat. Thanks and so glad the word is getting out! I myself have a very tall 2.5 year old rear facing in a VERY tiny car, and we are still doing great! http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=30201

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  16. I turned my 2 1/2 year old back around today and her legs hardly even bent and no complaints from her. I remember when I was little always putting my feet up on the back of my parents' chairs and getting yelled at so I don't see an discomfort in putting her feet up. I have a safety first air protect and it seems to do great rear facing for my very tall 2 year old. We always seem to want to recline our chairs and put our feet up on the dashboard lol so kids are probably the same!!

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  17. Just wanted to say that my babytrend manual says NOT to put on a shopping cart, ever. I got my car seat back in the fall of 2010, so it's not a new seat/manual. I remember reading that very clearly though and then showing the manual to my parents when they questioned it.

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  18. My cousin and her almost four year old where side swiped in their car one day. My cousin had gotten a booster seat for her child, but hadn't put it in the car yet. THANK GOD! The car was totaled, and they were hit in the rear passenger seat, where the three year old was. We were told that if she hadn't been in a five point harness she would have died instantly. As it was the poor little girl had to wear a neck brace for a few months along with some different types of therapy. She's find now, and happy in her new five point seat.

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  19. 100% agree with everything you've said on both of your posts about car seat safety. However, I was blessed with a child with unusual proportions who, at 4 1/2, can no longer fit into ANY 5 point harness car seat. We tried every Britax, Recaro, Diono Radian, etc... Just because the manufacturers SAY they will fit a child up to 57 inches tall DOES NOT MEAN that they will!! We went to our local Buy Buy Baby store & consulted their car seat "guru" who pulled every seat off the shelf for Jack to try & he was already too tall for every single one of them. Because his height comes from his torso, rather than his legs, even the largest height-rated car seat was already too small for him. The lady at BBB said she had never encountered that with a child his age before & was astonished that she could not find anything that would fit him. Jack is only 42" tall but even the Diono Radian (which says specifically it will fit up to 57") was already too short for him at its highest point. It was very disappointing to me - I wanted him in a 5 point harness for as long as possible but I quickly realized we were far past that point.
    We ended up purchasing a Britax Parkway SGL Booster for him & I feel very confident that he is safe & secure. I love that the booster uses the LATCH system and that it has a small strap that comes up between his legs to keep the lap belt in the proper position.
    I'm so glad that I took him to be fitted in a store, rather than just purchasing something online based on the manufacturer's recommendations - they never would have worked for us.
    Bottom line: in order to be safe, you have to make sure the car seat fits your individual child. I'll be forever thankful to the Buy Buy Baby Car Seat Guru for helping us find the perfect seat for our son.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This guide is great!

    I've got a slight issue--my 2-year old can easily undo the chest clip on her Graco Comfort Sport, and has been able to since just a few weeks after we switched her from her bucket seat. I have tried everything I can think of, including contacting the company to see what I could do (and they told me basically "you're doing it wrong" and that I must not be clipping it securely...yeah.).

    Every time I notice she's unbuckled herself, I pull over and fasten her back in, and we talk about it, etc. But she literally does it over and over, and I can't stop every minute and a half on the highway.

    What do you suggest? I'm at my wit's end, and I want my daughter to be safe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is quite common with the Graco chest clips unfortunately... A suggestion would be to take the pokey side of velcro (they sell them as little self sticking dots) and stick them to the chest clip where she would hold to un-clip it. Sometimes the "ouch" factor of that pokey velcro will deter kids from monkeying with it...If that doesn't work, dress her as usual then put a thin cotton button up shirt on her UNBUTTONED....put her in her car seat and buckle the car seat and tighten appropriately, THEN take the button up shirt and button it over the top of the harness straps so she cannot get to the clip to undo it. Hope that helps!

      Delete
    2. I was that way when I was a child - I would crawl out of my car seat and move around the vehicle. My mom got pulled over by a cop for it and she told him what I was doing. He assumed she was doing it wrong and buckled me in himself, followed us for a while, and when I got out again his advice was, "drive carefully." I was 2 at this time, so finally she would pull over whenever I did this and told me she wouldn't go until I got back in my car seat and stayed there. She said she sat on the side of the road for 20 minutes one time. Once I realized she was serious, I did what she said. Now I'm a seatbelt nazi! I won't drive unless everyone in my car is buckled. My point is sometimes it's the child's way of rebelling. If they realize their behavior is hindering their forward progression, they will adapt.

      Delete
  21. Although it should be obvious to all...I think you forgot to "Infant carseats should NEVER be forward facing." I have seen this twice while driving down the road. I think all states should start requiring people to have car seat safety classes prior to taking their baby home from the hospital. Maybe that would help eliminate these issues.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have a comment and 2 questions. First, I thought my car seats were installed correctly. When checked at the police station, the car seat expert showed me how I had to actually pull the shoulder belt all the way out to the maximum length. When you then feed it through the car seat and let it go to pull in all the slack, it makes a clicking sound. When you pull on the seat belt, it won't move at all. Question 1: Now that my son is in a high back booster and uses the shoulder belt across himself, I've taught him how to make sure it's locked so it can't budge in an accident. Is that safe or should there be some slack for an accident? Question 2: Our cars are older and don't have the LATCH system. We have a Britax frontier that can be a 5 pt harness or high back booster using shoulder belt. Is it safe to have a 5.5 year old, 40 lb child in the 5 pt harness mode with only the seat belt and not the LATCH system holding it in? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Request! I'd like to see a post about how to talk to your friend/neighbor/loved one about car seat safety. There are so man people I know that could really use a few pointers, but I don't even know where to begin. I have a neighbor that doesn't even use car seats! I bought one for her, because I thought it might be a money thing, but she doesn't use it.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I just found your blog. I like a lot of what you have to say. We follow as closely as possible. However, as you like to call it, my "excuse" for not refacing my almost 5 yr old son is simple, he gets car sick while being rear facing. The first 6 months of his life were miserable when we traveled. We live 1 hours away in any direction to any family. The baby carrier cause colic and rear facing cause vomiting. It was suggested not to rear face him and to get him out of the carrier as soon as he hit 20 lbs. Not everything is so black and white. Sincerely, Paulena

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In this case, you have to pick the lesser of both evils. Yes, it is unfortunate for him to be vomiting in the car. But is it worth risking his life? I would rather have a puke-covered baby then a dead one any day.

      Delete
  25. Get over yourself. The lesser of two evils? This person was simply stating their opinion about their 5 year old and bringing up an issue to talk about. She isn't choosing to kill her baby or a bad mother. Look at how long she had the child rear facing! Not even one compliment for that! No, we directly go to assuming she's a baby killer. Shame on you. You also have to factor in the psychological stress of a child being forced to ride in a car where they vomit constantly. It's huge and will affect their development in many areas. I think a good compromise would be to try other methods for car sickness and keep them rear facing as long as possible. If that is not possible and you need to forward face (and it's legal with age/height/weight) then so be it. It's easy to say that you will never let a child have a toy in the car and will rear face until they are 7, etc but have you honestly ever tried to drive with a child that vomits constantly or on a 6 hour car ride without so much as a stuffed animal? There are compromises people can make to increase safety but still be practical. We should be supporting all mothers and encouraging more safety practices, not tearing them down and thinking we are above other mothers because we are being the most safe in our own opinion. There will always be risks for your children. Always. You need to do the best to minimize them but you cannot keep them in a bubble, covered in antibacterial gel and refusing to let them go anywhere or do anything because of risk. Sports, playgrounds, kidnappings, the list goes on and on. Being too overprotective is very damaging for a child. The fact that you even took time to read this article means you are a great parent who cares about the safety of their child. Hopefully, there will be some ideas you can use to make car safety even better for you. Let's try to stay positive people and be supportive of each other!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AMEN! lol but seriously, I agree. It's not about putting anyone down, but there is not need for people to be preachy about their view on what worked for their kids. As long as you have your child's best interest in mind and use what should be common sense this world would be a better place

      Delete
  26. When my daughter was about 3 months old I had her carseat in the front of the shopping cart and it toppled out, thankfully I was watching and caught the seat right before she smashed headfirst onto the ground. I constantly stop people at the store now and show them how easily the seats filp off. Now after reading this I will be switching my youngest back to rear facing!

    ReplyDelete
  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I must say I am SO happy I read this blog and I will be reading the others now too. Thank you so much!! I am keeping my children in a 5 pt harness until they are 18!! haha

    ReplyDelete
  29. I kept my kids in rear facing as long as they fit, 10mo (before the 1yr rule) and 8mo(because he was the size height and weight of a 14mo). When asked to sit, both of mine sit feet straight in front of them. Most kids will actually sit this way unless they are in some sort of school or you have taught them to do so.

    Sitting cross legged is actually bad for one, even children for extended periods of time (more than 5-10mins). It cuts off blood flow to the feet and toes. Imagine if you had to sit cross legged for a long drive. Would you like it or feel comfortable? NO! It's not any better if their legs are up or extended over the edge of the seat.

    Once a child had hit the weight and age (which are both random numbers picked as the average age children hit a large enough size to support their head) they should be faced forward if their legs bend at over a 90 degree angle before with their feet against the back of the seat.

    As for the example videos, they are all using an old harness system that does not include the chest buckle. The chest buckle has saved many lives when positioned properly (like stated in your last post). With the carseat reclined as it should be for forward facing, the childs head should not fly forward like in the video. It has little to do with head/neck control. Does an adult hold their head still in a crash? NO! So why would that make sense on your standard of when to turn the child forward?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really hope there is nobody out there taking you seriously...and I really really hope you do not believe the word vomit you spew. Do you even know hat a chest clip is for? It doesn't save lives lol, it is a pre-crash positioner. As I sit here, wanting to correct every little detail that you have commented about, I think I will refrain since I have addressed it all in layman's terms in the blog posts. Please re-read, and do some research...and lastly, stop spewing your crap all over my comments.

      Delete
  30. Maybe all adults should be in five point harnesses. And there should be a height and weight requirement to get a driver's license, because I know a lot of adults that are not yet 100 pounds. Or maybe they should just use booster seats. You know. Just to be safe.

    And roller coasters are definitely out of the question FOREVER because, HELLO NECK TRAUMA. I guess the fact that we are large people (all of my boys were over 34" at 12 months old) doesn't matter. A three year old over the 97th percentile in both height and weight should be treated the same as a child below the fifth percentile.

    Since sitting with legs straight out in front of you for a long time cuts off circulation, I really ought to stop working at a desk. Or flying across the country. Or watching movies. Or taking road trips. By golly, I really, really need to make sure my kid is never asked to sit still for hours at a time in a school room, on a hard desk, with his feet in front of him. That would just be nuts. Sitting with your feet in front of you. Crazy talk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. God forbid you'd learn the hard way, like some people here have had to.

      Delete
  31. You did not mention that children shouldn't be in their car seat in a winter coat or ski suit. The coat compresses in a crash, leaving the child buckled in too loosely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is part 2, that was mentioned in part 1 :)

      Delete
  32. No criticism here. Well done. If you are going to do a part 3, I would suggest mentioning that convertible car seats do have a rear facing weight limit. I think ours is 40 lbs. and to be sure to check yours. :-) Good job. :-)

    ReplyDelete
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  34. Very useful information. Another reason not to snap car seats into a shopping cart - if you have to remove your baby quickly. This happened to a friend of mine and luckily her husband was there and got the baby carrier unsnapped in time before the car hit the cart....

    ReplyDelete
  35. It seems ALWAYS that if I use the seatbelt to buckle in my infant carrier base, there is more "wiggle" in the base than I like. I HATE it but don't know how to prevent that!! Unfortunately, our "new" minivan is a 2000 Odyssey, so it is pre-LATCH, and I only have the seat belt option. Tips?? Advice???

    ReplyDelete
  36. Regrets is always on the last. We must always remember safety first.

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  37. My son is a 30 pound, 33 inch tall 21 month old houdini. He is in a Diono Radian seat and 3 times in the same week was able to grab the strap that tightens the harness, pull it and loosen his harness, and get himself nearly out of his seat. He is now forward facing and unable to undo his seat because he can't get the same leverage on the strap sitting upright. I would have preferred to keep him RFing longer, but it's not safe if he can escape the straps. Just sharing a reason why my child is FFing slightly before planned.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Our car has leather seats and only has seatbelt options (no anchors) and I feel like I can never get my kids' seats as tightly installed as I would like. Suggestions? I was thinking about getting some of that rubber material that goes under rugs to keep them from slipping but would that really make a difference?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No it wouldn't, and I've been told it will ruin the leather. Have you tried using a locking clip?

      Delete
  39. How exavtly is a mother to shop with a 2month old if she can't use the carseat on the cart? I truly don't know, please don't call me stupid. :/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Use a sling or baby carrier, put the carseat in the main part of the cart, or find one of the carts that has a built in baby seat.

      Delete
  40. I have a convertible car seat that won't fit rear facing we do not have the luxury of getting a new car or a new carseat. He its too tall for his infant carrier, any ideas on how to get him rear facing again?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mayra - Why won't it fit rear-facing? Is there not enough room for the front seat to scoot up?

      I'd try to get a new (free) carseat from your local police/sheriff's office. My hubs worked for the SO in our former town, and they had a carseat program and gave away dozens of free, new carseats each year. If nothing else, they could give you tips on how to fit it or where else to get a free carseat from.

      Delete
  41. I have another idea for you for taking care of UFOs in the car (Unidentified FLying Objects). Seat belt them in BUT make sure you pull the seat belt all the way out first & then let go (make sure you test it to make sure it's latched). I got that idea from a firefighter & passed it on now Flylady recommends it too (www.flylady.org).

    ReplyDelete
  42. FIrst off, Great job.
    Second... please consider that not all cases are the same and others calling others "Bad parents" because they dont rear face is just wrong.

    Everyone is different.
    Consider us:
    19month old weighs 25lbs, 97th percentile in height. Has Cerebral Palsy and reflux,
    When she was 17 months she Aspirated rear facing because she was car sick, threw up and everyone thought she was coughing. Didnt get to her in-time because i had to unstrap my seatbelt, move all the stuff out of my way (coolers, we were on vacation) climb through our van to get around her carseat, and could not pull over.
    In the hospital for a week while on vacation... She survived. Barely.
    Not the most pleasant.
    We FF. All three of our kids.

    Hubby is 6'5" and cant drive safely if his seat is not moved all the way back... in turn, if there is a rear facing carseat behind him, he is pushed up against the pedals and over-accelarates and gets his foot stuck in transition to the brake... doesn't seem safe to me. Another car is not an option. We have the largest van on the market.

    We are not looking to cause an accident. That would be crazy, no matter how safe we THINK our kids are.
    Ultimately, they are not in our hands, we do our best to protect them, strapping them up tto the chin, adding seat belts through the carseat, adding latches to secure them, Its Gods outcome from there on out.
    Would love to hear your rebuttal.

    PS we also saved a kid in Walmart that slid off the cart. My husband caught him mid fall. The parents just blamed each other and didnt even say thanks. THey also put him right back on the top and placed an arm on top... ??? Boggles me...
    We just kept walking with our twins in their carriers inside the baskets (2 carts) as inconvenient as it was

    ReplyDelete
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  45. I have an honest question about the 5-point harness and rear-vs-forward facing.

    I see points saying the harness is best for FF, but then I also see points saying there's a huge risk of internal decapitation when FF in a 5-pt harness - like the following video. B/c the harness does SUCH a good job holding the body in place, but the head is still "loose" and lunges forward, stretching the spinal cord:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8gU9zzCGA8&sns=em

    So how do we determine which is best?

    Our oldest will be 3 in August. She is forward facing, in a booster w/a back, using the across-the-shoulder belt.
    We also have a 20-month old, who is rear-facing, and a 5-month-old, who is also rear-facing. They will remain this way as long as possible. The kids ride in my vehicle 97% of the time, and the booster we have for our oldest fits (barely) between the other two carseats.

    Please share what you've learned about internal decapitation, and neck injury in general, for kids in a FF 5-pt harness.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From what I understand, 5 pt harnesses actually release a little in the crash, they do not hold the child flush against the back. They will release some slack and the child will go forward a bit further to ease the stress put on their bodies.
      The danger in having a 3 year old in a booster is 1. that they may not be mature enough to stay in the proper position for the entire trip, awake or asleep 2. that the belt fit is not made for such a small child and the lap belt if not positioned properly will cause internal damage. Please, PLEASE look but the Isabelle Broadhead story on youtube...she was 3 years old and in a booster as well. There are several seats that are thin enough to fit between your seats.

      Delete
  46. Hello, I'm not sure if this has been said or not and I could be totally wrong, but I wanted to make sure just in case (also could be another point I suppose!) In the picture of your little girl rf'ing it looks like her straps are above her shoulders, I couldn't really tell because the strap covers blended in with the seat cover, but it kind of looked like they were above. The rule for the straps and rear-facing is they should be coming out of the seat at or below their shoulders, and for forward-facing they should be at or above. Hope that helps :)

    ReplyDelete
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  56. I would love to keep my 5 1/2 yr old son who is 45 lbs. and 46 inches tall in a 5 point harness for as long as possible because we travel to foreign countries (my husband and I are missionaries) and the vehicles we are in don't always have a chest belt and if they do they don't necessarily lock when they are pulled tight. So far we haven't graduated him to the next step which to me doesn't seem as safe. He has a convertible car seat that can be a full back booster for quite a while. But just having him strapped in with the chest belt really doesn't seem as safe. Are we supposed to use the LATCH system while we have the seat belt over him or are we not supposed to do that? I know I could just google it. But what are your thoughts?

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  59. What a well written article! I've read Part 1 and now Part 2, can't wait to read Part 3!

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  60. Being a new Nana I like the info but you did not quote the AAP correctly, they say rear facing till 2 or the min. Weight and height requirments. If you are going to give this info you should give correct info.

    ReplyDelete
  61. There's one thing I think should be added - when a person checks their carseat on an airplane, either gate check or baggage check, it should be considered the same as in an accident and no longer safe.

    We've personally seen carseats tossed around, and received ours back with visible damage. When flying use the seat in the airplane, or have carseats on location when you arrive. Do not check your carseats.

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