baby car seat safety

Car Seat Safety for Babies : Do’s and Don’ts

October 17, 2019


Today, it is very easy to drive around with your newborn in the car without a hassle. Baby car seats have been a hit among new mothers, and they help you carry your baby from the stroller to the car seat without waking him or her. Infant car seat provides the best car seat safety for babies when traveling by car.

It is important when driving with an infant on board that he or she is restrained in a seat. This is because a study has shown that unintentional injury is the number one cause of death in infants, and those injuries occur mostly in car crashes.

Infant car seats can significantly reduce the chances of a possibly fatal injury for young ones as well as for toddlers. Despite being a common device, many parents tend to use the baby car safety incorrectly. The safety of your child in the car starts when you go to the shop to buy the safety seats. There are many important things you need to put into consideration when purchasing your child’s car seat.

In most cases, the price of the car seat doesn’t guarantee quality. When you shop for a baby car seat, you should go for the one that fits your needs, which includes the child’s size, weight, age, and your vehicle. After settling on your seat choice, consider trying it out and see if your child fits in it and if the seat can fit in the car seat.

Sometimes the illustrations and guidelines on the product may not cover everything you need to know as far as the usage is concerned. Make sure you know how to install the safety seat accurately and harness your baby for the ride.

The benefits of a child’s safety car seat cannot be taken for granted; it can save lives and prevent injuries.

But just like many things in life, the infant car seat has its advantages and disadvantages. Using this device, a parent or a caregiver may put the safety of a baby at risk, sometimes without even realizing it.

A research on infant car seats has found that children have been injured in numerous occasions in falls from raised places or when the seat roles over on soft surfaces including on a sofa and top of a bed.

For this reason, Consumer Reports and the American Academy of Pediatrics compiled some helpful tips that you can follow to ensure your baby is safe while in the baby car seat, whether in or out of the car.

 car seat safety for babies

Child car seat guidelines: Choosing Car Seats

Below are some tips for choosing a safety car seat for your baby:

  • The first step in choosing a safety car seat is looking at the label. Trusted seats will have on the label a statement saying it meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213.
  • Be careful when buying second-hand safety car seats. Some may have outlived their utility course. If you must purchase a used safety car seat, don’t go for one that is involved in a crash or is more than 6 years old. Avoid safety seats that have missing parts, or crucial information such as the manufacturer label or instruction manual. The seat should also have an expiry date as recommended by the manufacturer. Remember to go with your instincts when buying a used safety car seat.
  • If you must buy a used safety car seat, consider checking with the manufacturer to find out how long the seat can be used and also if it has been recalled.
  • Make sure you fill out on the registration card so you can be contacted about the product recalls.

Newborn car seat position

Did you know that the safest position in a car is the back? Having that in mind, let’s find out what are the best positions to install a newborn car seat in your vehicle.

Newborn car seats are designed to offer protection to infants from birth until they are about 35 pounds.

The newborn car seat should be installed facing the rear of the car. Here are points for toddler and infant car seat placement.

  • Put the infant in the center facing the rear of the car as newborns are most vulnerable during a crash. In the rear facing seat, an infant is 5 times safer.
  • If you have two children, then put the older child facing forward.
  • The read the manufacturer’s annual as well as the vehicle owner’s manual to find out how to strap a baby safety seat in the car.
  • Try pushing down on the seat with your knees as you tighten the seatbelt through the seat-belt path. Ensure the car seat does not sway more than an inch forward and backward, or side to side at the belt path. Tighten the belt further if the seat moves or wiggles on the belt path.
  • Ensure you check the tightness of the safety car seat before each ride.
  • Don’t use a newborn safety car seat in a forward-facing position.
  • Recline the car seat at 45 degrees angle and not more.

How to harness your baby:

  • Start by going through the entire safety seat manual
  • Your child’s head should be 2 inches or more below the top of the seat.
  • Infant-only safety car seats often come with a 5 harness point. The harness should be placed in the slots all the time and should be below your child’s shoulders.
  • Ensure the harness straps fit snugly over the baby thighs and shoulder. The straps should lie flat all the time when in use, and never twisted.
  • Ensure that your baby is in clothes that keep the legs free to allow easy buckling of the latch crotch strap correctly between the child’s legs. During cold days, harness your baby first then cover the safety seat with a blanket.

Things not to do:

In addition to following child car seat guidelines, here are things you should not do to ensure the safety of your infant all the time.

  • Never keep heavy or hard items in the car cabin. When you are driving to the store with your baby, avoid putting the groceries and other items in the car cabin.
  • Don’t be in the rush to sit with your baby in the front seat. While the newborns are always adorable and hard to stay away from them, when it comes to safety and driving, let them seat at the back of the car for a while.
  • Don’t put your child from backward-facing seat to a forward-facing seat before they are 2 years old.
  • Avoid overdressing your child with heavy coast in the car as they can interfere with the car seat’s harness fit.
  • Don’t use your phone while driving with your child in the car. In fact never ever use your phone while driving, whether or not you have kids on board.
  • Don’t hang stuffed animals on the carrier handle, but rather tuck them away or keep them in hand. While toys are great for helping the baby calm down, during crash they can become a flying projectile.
  • Don’t substitute your baby crib with for child’s safety car seat.
  • Don’t drive with your child in a bad weather or at night if there is no need to.

What you should do

  • Always pull over to check if you are worried about your child at the back of the car
  • If you are on a long journey with a toddler on board, make sure you make some stops so that the baby can run around for a few minutes.
  • Always ensure you use the safest car possible when driving with kids.
  • Make sure you have plenty of time to get where you are going. To achieve this, plan ahead, it will also eliminate the need to speed up with your child on board because you are in a rush.
  • When you have toddlers in the car with you, make sure you are a responsible driver because the kids will be watching you and learning from you. so avoid running the red light, driving on the wrong side of the road, or swearing at other road users, or you will be raising bad drivers.

When to change from backward-facing seat to forward-facing seat

 car seat safety for babies

Before, the recommended age for flipping your baby’s car seat was 2 years. But this has since been rendered moot and now the APP recommends that you keep your child in the backward-facing seat for as long as possible, at least they surpass their seat’s weight and height limit.

There is no need to rush your baby to a forward-facing seat; the rear-facing position is the safer for infants and toddlers as well.


A baby car safety seat is the most important safety equipment you can possibly use. Don’t downplay its importance and leave anything for chance. Go through all details about the safety seat including the expiry date and the instruction manuals.

Many parents often commit common, avoidable mistakes when installing their child’s safety car seat. You need to ensure that the safety seat fits properly in the car seat.

A research found that more than half of forward-facing child safety car seats were not being properly installed and tethered to anchors in the car, which could lead to the seat pitching forward in the event of a crash or sudden brakes.

It is your responsibility as a parent to learn how to safely install the safety seat of your baby in the car.

Another thing you need to be aware of is the child safety laws. These change occasionally.


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