I recall like it was just yesterday, prancing through Buy, Buy, Baby looking at the car seats, aisles and aisles of car seats, it was so incredibly overwhelming. Thankfully I begged my sister to come with me to register, my niece was about to turn 2, so they had done the registering thing not long ago. Mike and I ended up registering for the same car seat as they received, a Peg Pergo Primo Viagio. It was quality, they did the homework, and the salesperson at Buy, Buy, Baby said it was a good seller. Ok, car seat was done √
Fast forward a few months later, I have given birth, my car seat has been in the car for a few weeks, ready to have Vincent strapped and secured, and carry around. Mike went to the car to bring it inside the hospital so we can see if Vinny passed the weight check, he did, and bam we left the hospital, GASP! Wait, hold on, what do we do? I thought the nurse would be sure that Vincent is all buckled properly, show us how to operate the car seat before we left. And when he grew, how do we maneuver the straps? How do I do operate this thing? By no means was our seat super fancy, but it’s a new object we had to get used to not to mention all the laws you must follow. Transitioning to the next level car seat? Booster? High-back? Convertible? Expiration dates? What? We are not talking about milk here, it’s a car seat, who knew they expired? Why can’t I buy one on a Mom to Mom site? Good Lord! This is another obstacle to overcome.
I have learned the highest cause of death amongst children 13 and under is vehicle crashes according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. In addition, it is estimated that 50-75% of child restraint systems are used or installed incorrectly. This made my hair stand up on my skin and had me run straight home and be certain my car seat was properly intact and that Vinny was secured in our cars.
According to the Michigan Child Passenger Safety Law, “Children younger than age 4 are to ride in a car seat in the rear seat if the vehicle has a rear seat. If all available rear seats are occupied by children under 4, then a child under 4 may ride in a car seat in the front seat. A child in a rear-facing car seat may only ride in the front seat if the airbag is turned off. Children must be properly buckled in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4-feet-9-inches tall. Children must ride in a seat until they reach the age requirement or the height requirement, whichever comes first.” Although it is not a requirement, it is highly recommended that children 12 and under should ride in the backseat, if possible.
Since we are now 4 years past being discharged from the hospital, the education I have learned about car seats is insane, and I urge all new and expecting moms to take a car seat safety course through a local hospital or find a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPS) to teach you how to install your seat properly. There is a certain way the straps need to be secured, the chest clips properly positioned, the latches, the anchors, when you need to transition to the next seat, and so many other items relating to the safety of your child.
Some quick tips to keep in mind when installing your car seat to your vehicle:
- If you are using a rear facing infant seat, be sure your base is latched in and the indicator is in the middle. Think of a level to hang something on the wall. The base needs to be even on the seat.
- Your infant seat needs to be rear facing until your child is at LEAST one year old and some in states until two, preferably until the weight and height limit specifications.
- When transitioning to a convertible seat for your child, be certain that you have tethered the strap necessary and utilized the anchors. If you DO NOT have a tether or anchors be certain to use the seatbelt to secure the car seat. Here are a few options in different prices ranges for convertible seats.
- When considering moving your child to a high-back booster seat be certain your child is able to sit in the position 100% of the vehicle trip. No bending over, moving the seat, unbuckling the seat belt while vehicle in motion, hanging out the window. If this can not be accomplished then you must go into a 5-point harness seat.
- When looking into a 5-point harness seat, be sure your child achieves ALL 3 of these prior to transiting from your convertible seat.
- At least 4-5 years old
- 40 inches
- Mature enough to sit properly and still while the vehicle is in motion.
As you can see, there are so many requirements to consider when installing and deciding on a car seat purchase. It can be incredibly overwhelming and above all, a huge safety concern. When in doubt, or even for peace of mind, contact your local CSP – Better to be safe!