The do’s and don’ts of using a car seat

Having a baby brings with it many new questions that you’ve never before considered. What’s the trick to making your little one sleep through the night? What’s the right age to start potty training? What kind of car seat should you get, and what’s the proper way to use it?

On the latter point, it’s worth noting that the standard guidelines to optimize car seat safety have recently been revised. In today’s post, we outline these core changes.

Infant carrier

Research shows that rear-facing infant carriers are highly effective at protecting small babies. However, it’s important to pay attention to the height limitations for the infant carrier. Parents should move their baby into a convertible car seat by the time the baby:

  • Exceeds the height limitations on the carrier,
  • Has a gap of less than one inch between the top of their head and the edge of the carrier shell or
  • Reaches their first birthday.

Consumer Reports conducted crash tests involving infant carriers and convertible car seats containing 22-pound dummies (representing one-year-old babies). In crashes with infant carriers, the dummy’s head collided with the front seat back in more than half of the cases. By contrast, only 4 percent of crashes involving convertible car seats resulted in head injury.

Convertible car seat

Once parents transition their baby into a convertible car seat, they may still be confused about how long their child should remain rear-facing. Conventional guidance has been to move your child into a forward-facing position when they are two years old. However, recent research by the American Academy of Pediatrics has found that it’s actually safest for a child to stay rear-facing for as long as possible. This means your child may not reach the height and weight limits of the rear-facing orientation until they are three or four years old.

Head injury is a leading cause of injury and death for babies involved in car crashes. Following the above rules of thumb can help to limit the chances of devastation if such an event occurs.

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