All About Car Seats
By Aishwarya Vohra
Parenting is often associated with a feeling of immense joy with its fair share of frustrations and responsibilities. A major part of parenthood is also constantly sweating over your child’s well-being and safety. Blame it on your protective instincts or on the world that we live in (a world full of thugs, molesters, crazy drivers, electric wires and what not), there is no getting away from the worries.
While it is impossible to stop a parent from worrying about his child’s security, it is possible to take measures to minimize the risk. Measures like baby proofing the house, not letting strangers touch your baby, choosing the right babysitters etc.
Although I’m tempted to write about the possible threats that come with letting strangers molly coddle your little one, this is not what the article is about. This post is about keeping your child safe on the road- a very important part of which is buckling him up to a car seat. Now, with so many car seat options to choose from, it is only natural to get a little confused. Of all the things that parents have to worry about, choosing the right car seat shouldn’t be one of them. So let me help you a little by providing you some important information about the subject.
To start with, it is important to know what choices you have and which one would be the most suitable for your child.
The Infant Car Seat
If you are expecting a baby, this should be the most obvious choice for you. Car seat is a prerequisite for safely bringing your baby home, as hospitals don’t let you leave until you have car seat installed.
Infant car seat is designed for babies from 5 to 22 pounds and can be used from birth until the baby turns 2. All infant car seats must be installed rear facing i.e. facing the back window.
Infant car seats are designed to support the back, head and neck of an infant, making them comfortable for the baby. They are lightweight and come with a carrying handle which makes them double up as a carrier.
Convertible Car Seats
Convertible car seats can be used both for infants and for toddlers. These are bigger and heavier than the infant car seats and can take up to 35-40 lbs of weight.
The best thing about these is that they can be first used as a rear facing seats for infants and as the baby turns two or reaches the manufacturer’s maximum height and weight limit, can be converted to forward facing seats.
Unlike the infant car seats, these do not come with a carrying handle and cannot be used as a carrier and are not compatible with the stroller systems either.
Booster Car Seats
Some parents think that car seats can be replaced with seat belts after the child is through the toddler stage but that is a false presumption. Car seats should be used till the child reaches the age of 8 and is at least 4 feet and 9 inches tall. So when your child outgrows the convertible seat, the booster comes into picture. The belt-positioning booster seats are designed to raise the child up so that the vehicle’s seat belt fits him properly. Booster seats are made keeping children above 40 pounds in mind and can accommodate kids weighing up to 100 pounds.
3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
These are a type of convertible car seats which can be used through all stages of growing up of a child. First to be used a rear facing seats for infants than forward facing for toddlers and later older children. Just like the booster seats, these too can take up to 100 pounds of weight.
After you have bought the right car seat for your child, it is wise to get an idea of a few safety rules to be kept in mind when installing these.
- To begin with, please read the entire safety manual that comes with the product before you go on installing it. It sounds very basic but you would be surprised to know how many people skip this.
- Make sure the seat has been properly secured. If it slides more than an inch in any direction, it is cue that you need to fix it.
- Always install the seat in the backseat of your car because that is the safest place for children to ride. Air bags are designed to help adults in case of a crash but in the case of children they can actually cause some serious injuries.
- Make sure that the harness straps fit snuggly, especially over the shoulders and thighs (and not belly).
- In winters, do not make the baby wear layers of clothing. Instead, cover the baby with a blanket after you have harnessed him.
- Make sure the car seat doesn’t recline at more than 45 degrees.
- When buying a used car seat, remember that it shouldn’t be over six years old or been in a crash. It should also come with an instruction manual and label showing the date of manufacture and model number.
These are a few things that you can consider and keep in kind while buying and installing a car seat. Apart from this, follow the rules of road safety and you should be good.
Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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