Check out these 3 great car seat tips! We all want to keep out little ones safe, here’s how.
by Donna Quillan | guest writer for The Snap Mom
As parents, we often make decisions for our children. We teach them right from wrong. We teach them what is safe and what is not. We love our children to the moon and back (as my four-year-old would say). We never want to see our children in pain. However, three out of four families make one of the biggest safety mistakes every day. They put their children in forward-facing car seats too soon.
When we install our children’s car seats (safety seats), we far too often don’t read the manuals of the safety seat AND of the vehicle. As parents, we don’t intend to misuse our children’s seats, but we do. We are blindly installing a device that can either save our child’s life or kill him or her. When children are in improper seating positions for their height/weight/age or the seats are improperly installed, our children’s lives are in danger.
Car seats go through rigorous testing and have very specific standards for use. They protect our children from harm during an unpredictable car accident. When deciding whether to rear-face or forward-face your children, you should consider their ages as well as their heights and weights. Just because a state law says that a child who is one year old and who weighs 20 pounds or more is allowed to face forward, it does not mean that the child should be facing forward.
1. Minimum height and weight REQUIREMENTS
There are minimum REQUIREMENTS for both height and weight for the forward-facing position of your child’s convertible seat. Many seats have a minimum forward-facing requirement of 34 inches tall. The average child is not 34 inches in height until around two years old. To safely transition from rear-facing to forward-facing, your child must meet BOTH the height and weight minimum requirements. Child safety seat companies develop these minimum requirements through very strict testing, so your child can be protected from injury and death during a car accident. The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that children be kept in a rear-facing position until they meet the minimum forward-facing height and weight requirements of their convertible car seats, no matter what their ages are. If your child’s doctor does not recommend this to you, he or she is either not paying attention to the current AAP standards or is being ignorant about child safety.
2. You can have it professionally installed
I discovered that a professional Child Safety Passenger Technician (CPST) should install your child’s seat. Unless a firefighter/paramedic/police officer/doctor is a CPST, please do not go to them to install the seat. Having someone who is not certified install your child’s seat is like going to a doctor who does not have a medical license. The CPST will be installing a device that will protect your child from death during a car accident. Only a CPST will know how to properly install the seat in the correct position for your child. A CPST will always tell you to keep your child rear-facing past the age of one year in order to protect the child. I have the car seat installations checked at least annually. You can find a local CPST in your area through these resources: csftl.org, allkids.org, safekids.org, seatcheck.org, or you can do a search in your area online.
3. Unlike adults, children’s bones are very flexible
Children’s bones are very flexible until they are about four years old. Children who are under that age have spinal columns that are not fully developed. When a forward-facing child is in a car accident, his or her head is thrown forward. The forces of the crash pull the underdeveloped spinal column forward up to four inches; the spinal cord cannot stretch that far and gets torn. Children who are rear-facing during a car accident and are in a seat that is properly installed do not receive the dangerous forces to their spinal column that forward-facing children do. A rear-facing seat absorbs the force in the back portion of the seat instead of in the neck. When a child is in a forward-facing position, the spinal column stretches even though the spinal cord cannot, and internal decapitation occurs. This causes paralysis or death to the child. Regardless of how much head control your one- to four-year-old children have, their spinal column bones are not fully developed, and they can have severe injuries when facing forward if involved in an accident.
Please make sure your children are protected. You cannot control the other drivers on the road. Who knows when they could run that red light or use you as the brake pedal? However, you can protect your children and give them the best chance at survival by keeping them rear-facing until they reach the minimum forward-facing height and weight of their convertible seats, regardless of their ages.
Here are some cute pictures of rear facing toddlers from The Snap Mom Community!