All parents will agree: The safety of your children is a top priority. You rely on a car seat to keep your child safe from the moment you leave the hospital. Unfortunately, there are so many decisions and things to get right about car seats that don’t stop once you buy one. In fact, it gets more difficult as your child gets older and as you potentially have more children.
That’s why we’re helping out with answers to some of parents’ most common questions about car seats. Here’s what you need to know to keep your kiddos safe.
1. I’ve Got Three Kids In Car Seats. How Do I Fit Them All?
Be ready for trial and error with this one. It’s a dilemma for any parent with at least three kids under the age of about eight since every child is required to be in a booster seat at minimum. Consumer Reports says your car will make a big difference. Look for a vehicle that has a flat rear seat, as opposed to a seat with raised humps. But see how three car seats fit before trading in!
Your ultimate goal is making sure the seat belt buckles don’t overlap. One trick is to vary the way each car seat faces—for example, two forward-facing seats with one rear-facing seat in the middle or vice-versa. Remember though that your oldest child will likely have the easiest time getting into the middle seat. You should also consider putting your eldest child in a harnessed seat that accommodates his or her weight. It’s harder to install, but proves easier for future car rides.
You’ll also have to consider buying more narrow car seats. Click here for a list of highly rated, yet slim car seats and boosters for all ages.
2. What About Air Bags?
Infants in rear-facing car seats must be in the back seat. Period. Most cars have off switches for air bags for the very few scenarios when a child might be seated in the front seat, for example:
- A child has special health-care needs;
- A pediatrician recommends constant supervision during travel; and
- No adults are available to ride in the back seat with the child.
Side air bags could also be risky to children in the backseat. You’ll want to read your vehicle owner’s manual for specific instructions about side air bags and car seats.
3. When Can My Child Switch To A Forward-Facing Seat?
A child should stay in a rear-facing position until they are 2 years old, or have reached the rear-facing height or weight limit of the car seat, though it’s strongly recommended that children remain rear-facing until at least 2. Convertible seats, like the one below, typically allow parents make the switch earlier, though you’re advised to resist the urge.
No matter the seat, following the manufacturer’s instructions is key!
4. How Do I Keep My Baby Warm And Safe?
It’s snowing, freezing… and I have to deal with a car seat?! We get it, it’s no fun. But you have to take care when dressing your baby for winter. Bulky or puffy snowsuits are just not safe in car seats. Instead consider dressing your baby in a sleeper or well-fitted fleece suit, then placing a blanket over the car seat without covering the child’s face.
5. Installing The Car Seat—Where Do I Start?
First of all, there is no shame is asking for help installing your child’s car seat. Allstate says to meet with a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) to make sure you’re installing the seat correctly (don’t rely solely on YouTube).
A local police or fire station should have a CPST, or click here to find an inspection location near you.
6. Do I Take My Kid’s Car Seat On The Airplane?
Here’s a mistake many parents don’t realize they’re making: A number of safety groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend children ride in car seats on airplanes. That way kids aren’t flopping around on their parent’s lap and they’re safer during emergencies. On top of that, infants are more comfortable in car seats and they’re more likely to sleep.
[h/t: Consumer Reports]