I’ve teamed up with State Farm® to share car seat safety in this sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
Getting out of the house in a timely fashion has always been a challenge for me. As soon as it’s time to leave, I remember one more thing that has to get done before I go. Fortunately, I learned a few hacks over the years to be prepared in other ways so that I could still get to places (mostly) on time. I gas up the night before. I have directions plugged into the GPS. Even if I’m running behind a bit, I have a shot at getting where I need to go without being late. Then I had children and all bets were off.
With two additional humans to dress and prep to go, it takes even more time to get out the door. Even if I do manage to get everyone ready, the minute we get to the car, things slow down. It’s okay, though, because nothing is more important than my children’s safety.
My 8-year-old daughter just stopped using a booster seat around the time my son was born. To be honest, I’ve been kind of checked out on the car seat front. Like 51 percent of parents surveyed by State Farm, my husband spent hours looking up installation tips on YouTube and researching car seats before the baby was born. Once our son was here, I was confident that my husband had him all squared away. He did, but that didn’t mean I was off the hook. After posting a picture of my son in his car seat where I had the strap placement incorrect, a friend sent me a message with a quick reminder. It reminded me that I needed to be diligent at all times.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, child safety seats have been shown to reduce fatalities by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for children one to four years old in passenger cars. *
It’s been a long time since I had a car seat refresher, so I met up with Kat Woolbright from Safe Kids Alameda County. She’s a certified child passenger safety technician who gave me a bunch of great car seat safety tips. I would never want to put either of my children in harm, and I know that other parents feel the same way. I was surprised, however, at the things I didn’t know about car seat safety. I’m grateful to Kat for showing me how to keep my children safe, and think many of you will benefit from these tips as well.
5 Car Seat Mistakes Well-Meaning Parents Make
- Using old car seats
Babies are expensive. I get it. I have been trying to save everywhere that I can with the birth of my son. We love getting hand-me-downs. Did you know that car seats have expiration dates? The rule of thumb is that car seats expire six years from the date of manufacturing. If you don’t purchase anything else new, a car seat might be the one thing you splurge on. If you do decide on a secondhand car seat, make sure you know the history (they work well once!), it has all the labels and instructions, and check the expiration date on the label. Many parents think they are getting a bargain with a used car seat, but they have to be sure it is safe to use. If six years have passed, it may be an expired seat so you will have to look for another car seat option. NHTSA has a Used Car Seat Safety Checklist.
- Installing the car seat front facing too soon
When my daughter was a baby, she hated to be rear facing. She would scream at the top of her lungs until we got to our destination. I didn’t care. She stayed rear-facing until she was physically unable to. According to the 2017 State Farm Child Passenger Safety Parents Survey, 44 percent of parents kept their child rear-facing until 2 years of age or older. If you have an infant, keeping them rear-facing can help prevent injury up to 75 percent more in an accident. It’s easy to see the benefit in keeping a little one rear-facing when you see that stat!
- Putting children in a car seat with big coats on
One of the biggest mistakes parents make is strapping their child in the car seat incorrectly. The car seat harness should be tight against the child’s body. If they’re wearing a big coat, that can’t happen. Take off any bulky items before you strap your little one in. After they’re strapped in, use a blanket over top of them if it’s cold and they need to be covered up. To test that the harness is nice and tight, try to pinch the strap near your baby’s shoulders. You shouldn’t be able to grab any of the strap material.
- Hanging toys up in the car
Toys haven’t been crash tested, so there’s no way to predict what will happen if there’s an accident. Anything that isn’t tied down can become a projectile that can harm your little one in a crash. As much as I love letting Jamie play with his hanging toys, I took them down because his safety is most important.
- Not securing the base
When I went to get my car seat inspected, I was surprised at how much movement there was at the base. I had taken it out recently and put it back, but didn’t double-check that it was all the way secure. When you put your base in the car, check the tightness right at the belt path. It can have no more than an inch of movement front to back.
It seems like there’s always something to keep track of as a mom. From trying to get out of the house to run errands, to keeping our children safe, it never ends. Car seat safety doesn’t have to take us over the edge. There are plenty of resources and programs to help us. Head over to the State Farm site for support. Now, if they could only help us with the “getting kids dressed and fed” thing, we’d be all set!
This post was sponsored by State Farm.
*source: State Farm® Child Passenger Safety Parents Survey 2017