Baby on Board - A Parent's Guide to Car Safety
Safety is the name of the game when it comes to being a parent. How quickly we learn what is right and what can be improved - but that wisdom comes with time. If you are a new parent and faced with choosing, installing and assessing the safety of a car seat…. It’s an intimidating responsibility. Today we are going to touch on the safety elements you need to consider for your child travelling in the car from newborn through to a baby convertible car seat. If you haven’t bought a car seat yet or have tried and failed in your attempts to install one correctly - see what you take from this guide.
The installation process
Each car and car seat brand are respectively different, but there are commonalities that can be applied to whichever model you have. The car seat can be installed via two methods, a seatbelt installation or anchorage points in the rear seats (depending on the year and model of your vehicle). The seatbelt method is the more complicated and hard of the two methods, whereas the car anchorage points are much easier and give a solid point in the vehicle to reinforce the installation of the seat. The seatbelt method does, however, give you the opportunity to install in the middle seat which is known to be the safest position.
The top tether is installed by a strap that is included in the car seat and it’s either installed at the top of the roof or via the back of the seat. If it’s at the back of the seat where you attach the top tether you may need an extension strap. If you use an extension strap you must place the connection behind the seat and not over the seat (can be dangerous in a crash for the baby). The top tether needs one twist at the point the strap comes out of the headrest of the seat to ensure a tight installation. The seat should have some minor movement but otherwise should be stable so that the front seat should be pressed against the seat to ensure a brace to the front of the vehicle as well.
Positions and features
Car seats can be front and rear-facing, and you will have your car seat in both positions at different points in their life. Newborn-to-toddler should be rear-facing so install your car seat this way before the arrival of your baby so you have enough time to review the installation and drive around with it in place. When your child is 12 months, you can change your car seat to be front-facing and may be able to take out some of the paddings as they are bigger now. Installing a little car seat mirror on your car seat when they are in the rear-facing position will allow you to keep an eye on them from your own rearview mirror for peace of mind.
Not sure you have installed your car seat correctly?
This is a common fear, and you are feeling this heightened level of safety because it is your child and it is uncomfortable to imagine the worst-case scenario. If you are concerned that you have not installed correctly, you can always start again or seek some advice from a professional. These professionals can be brand ambassadors who work for the car seat brand, baby equipment hire companies, or even your car aid company can shed some light. You might also find that your car manufacturer has some videos and guides that walk you through the car seat installation process.
The installation guide above is generic enough that it will apply to most cars and car seat brands. Always seek professional advice if you are in doubt and do not strap your child in if the car seat does not feel secure and ready to go. Parents truly have so many responsibilities to contend with, but this area is where you should focus a good amount of attention.