10 Things I Didn’t Know About Car Seats


Cae Seat


When I became pregnant with my daughter, I didn’t know much about car seats. I figured that I would go to Babies R’ Us, pick one out, and install it as I read in the owner’s manual. I quickly learned that the owner’s manual was not going to give me all of the facts about car seat safety that I needed to know. Through several well-informed of moms on the Facebook group Car Seats for the Littles, I learned so much about car seat safety—  and I am so glad I did.

I started to realize how passionate I was about car seat safety when I would get irritated about seeing a child forward facing prematurely. I was once at Sonic Drive-In getting a soda, and I started talking to the carhop about how to keep her child safe in the car. I seriously did not know about all of the facts listed below until I was already pregnant. Some of them I didn’t even learn until after she was born and had been in a car seat for about a month.

10 Must-Knows About Car Seats

1) Texas State Law

The law in Texas is as this reads:

[quote]”A person commits an offense if the person operates a passenger vehicle, transports a child who is younger than 8 years of age, unless the child is taller than 4’9″, and does not keep the child secured during the operation of the vehicle in a child passenger safety system according to the instructions of the manufacturer of the safety seat system.”[/quote]

The law can be viewed at this link.

2) Different Kinds of Car Seats

There are three types of seats: rear-facing infant seats, convertible seats, and booster seats. It is important to know that all car seats have different height and weight limits. It is also important to know that all seats are crash-tested and safe, as long as they are sold in their original packaging in an authorized retailer.

Rear-facing infant seats are typically the first seats to be used when babies are born. These seats are carrier seats that often click into a base in a vehicle. Most infant seats are for babies approximately 5lbs to approximately 30lbs.

Convertible Seats start with your child rear-facing and switch to forward-facing when the child meets the height and/or weight requirements indicated by the manufacturer. Many of these seats can now be used from birth. The weight requirements can range anywhere from 5lbs to 70lbs.

Booster seats are the last phase in child safety seats. Children must be four years old and over 40lbs to move to a booster seat. There are high-back booster seats and no-back booster seats. The high-back seats help children stay upright when they fall asleep and trains children how to sit properly with a seat belt. Seat belts are used in conjuction with a booster seat unless the seat has a five-point safety harness.

Visit this site for more information about the phases of car seat safety for your child.

RGVMB Car Seat Safety TX Law-013) The Importance of Keeping Your Child Rear-Facing Until Age Two

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you keep your child rear-facing at least until age two. I had no idea about this until someone mentioned it to me in passing. I started researching while I was pregnant, and it is very clear that rear-facing is the safest position for a child in the car. This excerpt from an article from the website Car Seats for the Littles explains the importance of extended rear-facing:

[quote]”Why the recommendation to rear face until age two? Presently, the only data with hard numbers comparing injury when rear versus forward facing are centered around that age group. However, age two is truly a bare minimum. According to the previously noted study, at age three there is still only a 50% probability that the C3 vertebra has finished ossification. The older a child gets, the more time their spinal column has to strengthen and he reality is the longer, the better. Most car seats on the market today will easily rear face even above average height and weight kids until 3-4 years of age. Without a CT scan, there is no way to know what stage of development your child’s spinal column is in, so the safest option is to rear face to the maximum height or weight of a convertible car seat.”[/quote]
To read the full article follow this link to the Car Seats for the Littles website.

4) The Owner’s Manual

Both your car seat owner’s manual and your vehicle owner’s manual are very important in keeping your child safe in your vehicle. Most car seats will install the same way in every vehicle; however, there are some exceptions. Older vehicles don’t usually have the LATCH system, and in some vehicles, car seats are only safe in certain seats of the vehicle. It is very important to read the owner’s manual to your car seat and keep it in the car with your car seat. My daughter’s seat even has a place for the owner’s manual in the seat itself.

5) Car Accidents and Second-Hand Seats

A car accident can and almost always will render your car seat unusable. Even though the seat may look like no damage has been done, the car seat can suffer structural damage that can’t be seen. Many car seats are recommended to be replaced, even if they are in the car during an accident and your child is not in the seat.

Insurance companies will cover the cost of a replacement seat. Be sure to contact the manufacturer of your seat and they will recommend how you should more forward concerning replacement. If you need to dispose of a car seat that was in an accident or is damaged, cut the straps and then throw the seat away. This way, no one can try to use a safe that is unsafe. Because car seats need to be replaced if they have been in an accident, it is important that you do not purchase or use a second-hand seat. If you are getting the seat from a person you can trust with your child’s life, and they assure you that the seat has not been in an accident, then you can proceed at your own discretion.

10 things I didn't know about Car Seats RGV Moms Blog

6) Recalls and Registration

As you collect more and more baby gear, you will learn that you are instructed to register a lot of your items with the manufacturer. This is important because the manufacturer will contact you for any safety recall on your seat.

7) Expiration Date

I had no idea that car seats expired! It doesn’t seem like something like a car seat would expire like a loaf of bread, but they do. The temperature and sunlight can break down the plastic of a car seat over time, making them unsafe. Most expiration dates are stamped on the bottom of your car seat. If you are having trouble finding the date, contact the manufacturer of your seat and they will assist you. For more information about car seat expiration visit this link.

8) Coats

Did you know that putting a heavy coat on your child while they are in a car seat can be unsafe? I certainly didn’t. Heavy coats create more space between your child and the car seat safety harness. It may seem like the straps are snug, but they are not as effective when there is too much material between your child and the straps. The “Today Show” recently aired a segment about this. Follow this link to a video and article for more information about keeping your child safe in the car in colder climates.

9) Chest Clip and Strap Placement

A couple of details that I overlooked for the first month of my daughter’s life were the chest clip and strap placement when she was in her car seat. The top of the chest clip is supposed to be even with the bottom of your child’s armpits. This is the strongest part of the chest and keeps the child from being ejected in a crash. See the image below from http://csftl.org/a-chest-clip-goes-on-the-chest/.Chest Clip

10) After-Market Accessories

These days, you can find all kinds of cute accessories for your child’s car seat. However, many accessories are not recommended for use by car seat manufacturers. They are not used when a crash test is performed on the car seat and cannot be deemed safe. Some of the most common accessories that are misused are: strap pads, vehicle seat protectors, car seat covers and infant head support inserts. The accessories listed above are part of the list from this article which is a great resource about after-market car seat accessories.

Here are some great websites you can visit for more information on car seat safety.


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