–Do put your child in a car seat. This is the law but some parents are a bit lax about this. An accident can happen on a 5 minute trip to the store or on a short drive to a friend’s house. Is the risk really worth it?
–Do keep your child rear-fearing until the age of 2. Yes, their legs may get long but their heads are still disproportionately large. Car seat techs and pediatricians alike preach that a leg injury is better than a head or spine injury.
–Do get your car seat properly installed. Fire stations and hospitals around the city offer this service for free. It’s okay if the instructions seem a little confusing. No one is judging you. Simply seek the help you need.
–Do use a car seat when using Uber or Lyft. While this suggestion isn’t commonly mentioned, I feel it’s important. A lot of people use these services now and I often wonder how the children are being transported. I would treat this situation the same as if I were driving. Secure your children in a car seat.
–Do register your car seat and check safety recalls regularly. I often see parents detach the little white card from the car seat and toss it aside. No, please complete it and return it to the manufacturer. Be in the know about your car seat’s safety at all times.
–Don’t purchase car seats from garage sales or thrift stores. Children are expensive. I get it. But car seats don’t come with “car facts”. Has it been in an accident? Will the manual accompany the seat? How old is it? These questions determine the overall safety of the seat.
–Don’t allow children under 13 years old to ride in the front seat.
–Don’t allow children to wear coats in a car seat. The puffiness of the coat or jacket requires you to adjust the straps. This adjustment is not really securing the child’s body but rather the girth of the jacket. Remove the coat when strapping your little ones in.
–Don’t forget to check your child’s school or child care program’s policy on transporting children.
–Don’t leave your children in the car. As I write this I have to admit that I’m noncompliant. This is hard but it’s necessary and I’m committed to doing better.
The Probably Nots
–It’s probably not a good idea to feed your children in the car. But as a parent of 3 toddlers, I totally get it. It happens. It’s often necessary to return your attention back to the road and the noise level back to a bearable octave. Please be aware of foods that are choking hazards. Also, most vehicles are equipped with a little mirror that can drop down to keep an occasional watchful eye on your kids.
–It’s probably not a good idea to keep the same car seat for all of your kids. Again I realize children are expensive and their endless list of needs adhere to our wallets like gorilla glue, but unless your kids are less 3 years apart it’s probably a good idea to purchase a new one.
–It’s probably not a good idea to make your decision about a car seat solely based on its price. A higher price doesn’t guarantee safety.
Car seat safety is not a one-time thing we consider when purchasing our car seats. Safety should be something we maintain throughout the ownership of the car seat.
I challenge you to check the installation of your seats. Has your child experienced a growth spurt? You may need to adjust the straps. Don’t put it off another day.
You can find this original article on This Mama Wines
Nikki is a mom to three beautiful children, wife and is a certified family nurse practitioner and lactation counselor. Nikki has a private practice in New Orleans called Nurse Nikki LLC. Nikki is also a regular contributor to the blog This Mama Wines.