Car seat safety

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Joined: 12/21/09
Posts: 344
Car seat safety

I'm sure most people finds this stuff bizarre and sometimes over the top, but since preparing to be a mom, i've kind of become a car seat safety snob.... not too severe, but just enough to make it one of my bigger priorities. Wink

Just some tips and information on our new babies and preparing for them.

• You shouldn't buy a used car seat as you don't know the history of it.
• You shouldn't borrow a car seat from anyone unless you truly trust them with your child's life, know that the seat is not expired, that the straps haven't been submersed in water and that it has not been in an accident.
• Car seats expire. It depends on the brand it is, but they expire anywhere from 5 to 9 years. They are not safe to use beyond their expiration and need to be replaced. Check your manual. Your car seat should have a sticker on it.
• Car seat straps should not be submersed in any liquid. It can loosen up the fibers and the car seat may not function properly in the event of an accident. Read your manual for what your car seat allows. Usually a damp cloth, some do allow a mild detergent (and some don't), etc. Some people have smell success putting them in a ziploc with some baking soda for a couple of days.
• If a car seat has been in a car accident (occupied or not), it should not be used again and replaced.
• For rear facing children, the straps need to be at or below babe's shoulders. So if the opening for the straps are over their shoulders, they need to be moved down a slot.
• Rear facing in an infant bucket seat or a convertible, the seat is outgrown when there is an inch of shell above baby's head, or they have reached the weight limit of the seat.
• It is recommended to keep your baby rear facing until the limits of the seat. The AAP is recommending a minimum age of 2 now. Convertibles will last until that point. There are seats that exist that allow most children to rear face to about 4 now.
• If you have other children other than this newbie, and they are front facing and still harnessed, the straps should be at or above their shoulders. Front facing, they are outgrown (most seats) when child's ears reach the top of the shell.
• Most state laws require you to keep your child in an appropriate seat until a minimum of 4 years old (and sometimes 40 pounds too) before changing to a booster.
• It is not bothering the child for their feet to be touching the car's seats.
• Most convertible car seats will not fit your new baby properly. The straps will be above their shoulders.
• Coats should not be worn in a car seat. A thin fleece outfit is safe for the car seat. Coats and some jackets can compress in an accident, and can allow your child to fly out of the seat.
• The chest clip belongs at their arm pit/nipple level.
• The straps should be tightened to the point that if you can pinch the seatbelt in a horizontal way, the straps aren't tight enough.
• Straps shouldn't be twisted or folded.
• Extra items such as head supports should not be used, unless they came with the seat. They are a product that has not been tested with the seat and therefore are unsafe. And also voids the warranty of your seat.
• Strap covers that did not come with the seat should not be used.
• Those beautiful pocket style winter items that go in the bottom of the car seat, insert baby, and the top part zips up to protect your baby from the cold should not be used. It requires the straps to be loosened for this to work and can compress in a crash, being unsafe. Shower cap covers are fine, as they attach outside of the car seat.
• Check your manual for your infant seat to see where the handle is supposed to be while driving. Some brands require it to be in one place, other brands forbid it to be in certain places.
• Only Britax and Sunshine Kids brands allow rear facing tethering. So if you don't have either of these brands, you cannot tether your rear facing convertible.
• LATCH and the seatbelt should never be used together.
• When installing the seat, you should use your non-dominant hand and push on the seat at the belt-path, and it should not move more than inch.

That's all that comes to mind at the moment without looking up some info.

I'm not a pro by any means, nor am I a CPST - just car seat conscious.... but I'd be happy to try and answer anyone's questions if they have any.

Maelani's picture
Joined: 01/09/10
Posts: 275

I just bought my carseat today, and i was happy to see it already came with one of the head supports for newborns. Thanks for the reminders on car seats!

LizzyLaw06's picture
Joined: 05/20/07
Posts: 497

thanks for the reminders! i gotta check my DD's ears to the seat shell. she's tall so i hope she hasn't outgrown her seat Sad

mandi04's picture
Joined: 08/10/03
Posts: 2272

I really wish I had known when I bought a car seat with my first that the weight limit does not matter as much as the height limit for average sized kids...they will more than likely outgrow car seats in height well before they will in weight. My oldest outgrew her infant seat at about 5 months old (the height limit was 26 inches) and her convertible seat at 3, both for height not weight. My 5 year old isn't 40lbs yet but she's above the height limit on our old convertible seat.
Seats with higher weight/height limits really aren't much more expensive, I got ours for less than $200 and it has some of the highest safety ratings, high rear facing limits and just high weight/height limits on the seat overall. It's well worth $200 since the convertible seat is something they will be in for years.

Joined: 12/21/09
Posts: 344

"LizzyLaw06" wrote:

thanks for the reminders! i gotta check my DD's ears to the seat shell. she's tall so i hope she hasn't outgrown her seat Sad

If you want to post a picture of her in the seat, I'd be happy to look at it.

Joined: 12/21/09
Posts: 344

"mandi04" wrote:

I really wish I had known when I bought a car seat with my first that the weight limit does not matter as much as the height limit for average sized kids...they will more than likely outgrow car seats in height well before they will in weight. My oldest outgrew her infant seat at about 5 months old (the height limit was 26 inches) and her convertible seat at 3, both for height not weight. My 5 year old isn't 40lbs yet but she's above the height limit on our old convertible seat.
Seats with higher weight/height limits really aren't much more expensive, I got ours for less than $200 and it has some of the highest safety ratings, high rear facing limits and just high weight/height limits on the seat overall. It's well worth $200 since the convertible seat is something they will be in for years.

Yeah, it's pretty sad. If you don't do a lot of research before purchasing, you'll wind up purchasing more seats than you really need to. A lot of the "popular" seats are actually really crappy because they won't last you very long at all.

Also to add, there really are no "safety ratings" for car seats. No one but Sunshine Kids releases their crash test statistics... so we really have no idea if one seat is safer than another, just that they all pass the same test.

Nell4Him's picture
Joined: 10/25/06
Posts: 2455

I found a typo.... (proof-reading is something I do out of habit).

"• If a car seat has been in a car (occupied or not), it should not be used again and replaced. "

Should read if it's been in a car accident...

Thank you for posting all of this. I have a friend who keeps trying to tell me that her 3ft 8 inch, 48 lb 7 year old son is "safe" according to law to ride without a booster seat as long as he only has a lap belt on.

I simply tell her. "Not in my car he's not. Law and safe are two separate words and he won't ride in my car without a booster seat." She has no vehicle and relies on her mother and myself for getting around town most of the time. She is working on putting some money aside to buy a second booster to keep with me because her mother is not always available to get the only booster she owns to me.

Nell4Him's picture
Joined: 10/25/06
Posts: 2455

I do have one question... infant carry car seats (snugride and similar).

We are planning on re-using our snugride that we purchased new for Daniel (now 2 and has been out of it since before he could sit). It has NEVER been in a car accident and the expiration date is Dec 2014. The base, however, does not have an expiration date anywhere on it. Can I assume since it came in the same box as the seat, that the expiration date is the same and we are good? It appears to have some "stress" marks when you flip it over and inspect it really closely. The tan-ish color that the plastic is supposed to be is slightly white in a few spots. Should I take it to a car seat check for them to look it over? Or should I just purchase a new base? Or do you think it's safe to use?

Alright, that was more than "one" question. Lol

synergy05's picture
Joined: 04/15/10
Posts: 1298

"Nell4Him" wrote:

I do have one question... infant carry car seats (snugride and similar).

We are planning on re-using our snugride that we purchased new for Daniel (now 2 and has been out of it since before he could sit). It has NEVER been in a car accident and the expiration date is Dec 2014. The base, however, does not have an expiration date anywhere on it. Can I assume since it came in the same box as the seat, that the expiration date is the same and we are good? It appears to have some "stress" marks when you flip it over and inspect it really closely. The tan-ish color that the plastic is supposed to be is slightly white in a few spots. Should I take it to a car seat check for them to look it over? Or should I just purchase a new base? Or do you think it's safe to use?

Alright, that was more than "one" question. Lol

Great question. thanks for asking.

Joined: 12/21/09
Posts: 344

"Nell4Him" wrote:

I found a typo.... (proof-reading is something I do out of habit).

"• If a car seat has been in a car (occupied or not), it should not be used again and replaced. "

Should read if it's been in a car accident...

Thank you for posting all of this. I have a friend who keeps trying to tell me that her 3ft 8 inch, 48 lb 7 year old son is "safe" according to law to ride without a booster seat as long as he only has a lap belt on.

I simply tell her. "Not in my car he's not. Law and safe are two separate words and he won't ride in my car without a booster seat." She has no vehicle and relies on her mother and myself for getting around town most of the time. She is working on putting some money aside to buy a second booster to keep with me because her mother is not always available to get the only booster she owns to me.

So sorry I haven't responded in awhile... Our lives have been hectic!!!

Yeah... and laws are totally different than safe too. What she's doing is ILLEGAL. Oregon is 8 or 4'9, and most kids don't sit right 100% of the time and pass the "test" to ride boosterless until about 10 or 11.
Plus, lap belts should only be used nowadays with a car seat. They aren't allowed to be used with boosters at all. And they don't disperse the impact of an accident enough to wear only a lapbelt in the car, for anyone.

You can get low back boosters at walmart for like $13, though he's probably better off in a HBB.

Joined: 12/21/09
Posts: 344

"Nell4Him" wrote:

I do have one question... infant carry car seats (snugride and similar).

We are planning on re-using our snugride that we purchased new for Daniel (now 2 and has been out of it since before he could sit). It has NEVER been in a car accident and the expiration date is Dec 2014. The base, however, does not have an expiration date anywhere on it. Can I assume since it came in the same box as the seat, that the expiration date is the same and we are good? It appears to have some "stress" marks when you flip it over and inspect it really closely. The tan-ish color that the plastic is supposed to be is slightly white in a few spots. Should I take it to a car seat check for them to look it over? Or should I just purchase a new base? Or do you think it's safe to use?

Alright, that was more than "one" question. Lol

Totally up to your comfort level on that.

The base SHOULD have some sort of date on it, even if it's one in the form of the two little clock things. I would assume that it has the same expiration date, because it's "friends" with the seat itself.

I would personally use the base without issue as long as it hasn't been sitting in any place with extreme temperatures. If it's been in a place that has been exceptionally hot (say an attic, if it gets very hot), I would definitely replace it. But if there is any plastic "broken" definitely don't use it. But if you're concerned about it, it's worth a $40 purchase.

MandyMommyto1's picture
Joined: 06/27/09
Posts: 534

I have an odd question for you about car seat usage. Now, I know the laws here are probably a bit different than where you're from, but I'm constantly battling with my dad over this issue.
He remembers when we were kids there were no such things as car seats and we would just sit in the back as babies in a basket or something like that - so now he regards car seat laws as stupid. Anyway - he insists that if he takes Claire somewhere by himself, that he should put her car seat in the front seat of the car and just turn off the passenger side airbag, and that's perfectly ok. He thinks she'd be happier, because she can "see everything." Keep in mind that telling him it's illegal doesn't affect his opinion. I disagree, and would never allow him to do this, but I just don't know how to argue the point with him becasue I don't fully understand the research and whatnot that's gone into carseats. What would your response to this be?

Joined: 12/21/09
Posts: 344

"MandyMommyto1" wrote:

I have an odd question for you about car seat usage. Now, I know the laws here are probably a bit different than where you're from, but I'm constantly battling with my dad over this issue.
He remembers when we were kids there were no such things as car seats and we would just sit in the back as babies in a basket or something like that - so now he regards car seat laws as stupid. Anyway - he insists that if he takes Claire somewhere by himself, that he should put her car seat in the front seat of the car and just turn off the passenger side airbag, and that's perfectly ok. He thinks she'd be happier, because she can "see everything." Keep in mind that telling him it's illegal doesn't affect his opinion. I disagree, and would never allow him to do this, but I just don't know how to argue the point with him becasue I don't fully understand the research and whatnot that's gone into carseats. What would your response to this be?

I'm a very straight forward kind of person. My response would be, as nicely as possible, that if he doesn't do it your way, he can't take her in the car. Blum 3

Actually, the reality is that Canada is MORE strict on car seat safety, and it seems like your law enforcement knows more about car seats than ours does. As long as they exist, people here don't care .... if they're expired, improperly used, imported, etc. So I would also throw in the illegal part, since y'all are more strict about it.

Plus, it's actually not safe to just "turn the airbag off" unless it's a keyed switch that can turn it off. Just assuming the airbag is off because the light it off, because there isn't enough weight in the seat is not a safe thing to do.
From what I know, the air bag can be disconnected, but under most conditions it's illegal and there has to be some sort of waiver for it, that is rarely rarely rarely ever given out.

I would probably also respond with "when you know better, you do better" to the "we used to go car seat less years ago..."
Also read a response on another forum where someone responds to that with something resembling, "sure, but the people who didn't survive from accidents back then without car seats and seat belts didn't live to tell us about it."

Nell4Him's picture
Joined: 10/25/06
Posts: 2455

There are other things that human beings used to do that is now known to hurt us or is illegal because of the risks, like we used to have the idea that people with fevers need to "sweat it out". We know now that that can be fatal, cause seizures and brain damage. We know that fevers need to be monitored.

There's other stupid things that I can't think of off the top of my head. We used to think smoking cigarettes was fine and dandy until we realized the connection with lung cancer, etc.

Is there something that might hit home with him on that type of topic? The other option is to just stick to your guns like suggested and not allow him to have her in his vehicle if he's not going to obey the laws. I'm not sure how it is up there, but I believe there are certain situations here, with car seat negligence, that might get the child taken away from the family. Maybe this might be your route of approach. Don't lie to him, though, do your research first.

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