Properly installing a car seat
Studies have found that around 75% of car seats are being used improperly, either because the seat isn’t securely installed or because kids weren’t strapped in correctly. Because of this, we would strongly recommend that parents stop by a local checkpoint to have your car seat inspected and ensure that you are doing everything properly. Not having a car seat correctly installed or buckled can erode its safety benefits in a crash. To get safety tips or to find local places to get car seats inspected, visit nhtsa.gov/safety/CPS. SafeKids USA also conducts periodic events around the country to inspect car seats for parents. Visit Safekids.org/car-seat-event to find if one is coming to your area or try seatcheck.org to find a local inspection location.
My child keeps unbuckling himself from his car seat while I’m driving
Many parents report a problem with ‘Houdini children’ who manage to unbuckle themselves or worm their way out of a car seat when driving. In fact, a study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting 2011 in Denver found that around half of parents have had one or more of their children unbuckle themselves from a car seat. Almost half of these unbucklings occurred while driving, and most escapes came from 5-point harnesses, which latch in 3 different places. Here’s what parents can do to try and limit this driving danger:
- When purchasing a car seat, look for those with latches that are less accessible and harder to reach.
- If a child unbuckles themselves while you’re driving, don’t mess around. Find a safe spot to pull over, and then explain that you’re not moving again until they are properly buckled. If they continue to do it, enforce other consequences after the trip.
My baby hates his car seat and screams the whole time. What can I do?
There are several reasons a child might show an aversion to his car seat, ranging from unfamiliarity to feeling alone and abandoned when riding in the back seat. The worst thing parents could do is take a baby out of their car seat or turn it face forward. Instead:
- To get your baby familiar with their car seat and help break the negative association he or she has to it, bring the carseat indoors and play games in it on occasion or feed your baby inside it. Just be sure to do this on a safe surface where there is no risk of it falling, and never leave a baby in a car seat unattended on a bed or other soft surface where it could tip over.
- Talking to your infant while driving can remind him you’re still there and provide some comfort.
- Keep your baby entertained by playing music, singing to him, or providing a soft toy that he can play with. You might also try pre-recording some of your favorite lullabies or other songs so that your baby can hear your voice without you having to constantly keep him occupied.