Being a young mom means we met a little early, but I get to love them longer.

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Learn about car seat safety HERE!

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Car seat safety: Proper restraining

Now that we have covered how to install the car seat, I am going to move on to properly restraining your child.

First off, know the weight limits on your car seat.
For Brentley's infant carrier, the weight limit was 5 to 22 lbs. Since my little man is a chunk, he outgrew that at around 5 months old. Grace and Brentley have the same convertible car seat now. The weight limits on it are: rear-facing up to 40 lbs, forward-facing up to 60 lbs, and high-back booster up to 100 lbs.
There are weight limits on a car seat for a reason. If the weight limit on your baby's infant carrier is 22 lbs, do not place your 25 lb baby in it.
I am all for extended rear-facing, but if the rear-facing limit on your child's car seat is 40 lbs, then you cannot continue to rear-face your 45 lbs child. In the event of a crash, the seat would not function properly if the child was over the weight limit.
Most, if not all, car seats have the weight limit listed somewhere on the car seat itself. And it will also be listed in the car seat's manual. If you haven't noticed by now, that is one instruction booklet you don't want to throw away.

Now, let's move onto weight limits over-all. Most states have a law that requires children under the age of one year old AND 20 lbs to be rear-facing. THIS IS A LAW in most states. Not a choice.
In Georgia, a child who is under 4'9 and 40 lbs OR under the age of eight MUST be in a car seat per the law. If your child reaches 4'9 and 40 lbs before the age of eight, then it is legal for them to ride in a regular seat. And children under the age of twelve must be in the back seat.
If you live in another state, you can refer to this link http://babyproducts.about.com/od/statecarseatlaws/State_Car_Seat_Laws_Child_Safety_Seat_and_Seatbelt_Laws_by_State.htm to find out what your state's car seat laws are.
Now, notice that these are the law, but research suggests that these are outdated. The recommendation for rear-facing is AT LEAST two-years-old. Further recommendations suggest rear-facing as long as possible.
As for forward-facing, it is recommended that the child stays in a 5-point harness for as long as possible. I will cover how long a child should remain in a booster later in the post.

As for the straps on a 5-point harness seat, the straps should NOT be twisted. 
They MUST be tight. Not so tight that the child has indents from them, but they should be snug. The best way to test this is with the pinch test.
If you can pinch any slack, then it is not tight enough.

Now, the clip in the middle is called the CHEST clip. It goes on the child's chest, not stomach. 



It should be positioned on the sternum, about even with the armpits. 

Now, I feel that this shouldn't even have to be mentioned, but ALL clips should be fasted. 

All of that is for rear and forward facing. The only difference in rear and forward facing with a 5-point harness is...
If your child is rear-facing, then the straps should come out of the slots at or just BELOW the shoulders.
If your child is forward-facing, then the straps should come out of the slots at or just ABOVE the shoulders.

Do NOT wash the straps of a car seat. They are covered in fire retardant components. When they are submersed in water and soap, those components are stripped. To clean them, use a damp cloth (no soap).

As for boostering, children are not supposed to be in a booster until 4 years old AND 40 lbs! You do NOT have to put your child in a booster at this point. However, if you continue to keep your child in a 5-point harness after that age and weight, watch your child's height. If your child's shoulders become higher than the highest slot for the straps on the car seat, and/or your child becomes heavier than the car seat's weight limit, then it's time for your little one to move to a booster. 

High-back boosters are best to start with. They have a belt positioner on them. This positions the belt so that is not touching the child's neck. If you put your child in a regular booster, and the belt touches the child's neck, then you will need a high-back.
In a booster of any sort, the belt should be across the child's lap, not stomach, and across the child's shoulder with no contact to the child's neck. 
Do not use just a lap belt or place the shoulder belt behind your child. Neither of these things are safe.

Your child should not be moved out of the booster until the belt fits your child that same way WITHOUT the booster.


Sources:



5 comments:

  1. I really don't want Sam out of a 5 point until she is at least 5, but she is so tall, I may have to. :/ Her shoulders are already above the highest strap position and she isn't even 4 yet. I may have to get a bigger 5 point.

    I didn't know that they needed to be below the shoulders rear facing. News to me. So what do you do? Research all this or do you just know it?

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  2. Brittany you said that her shoulders are above the lowest slot? Meaning so is her straps.....if so she can no longer fit that car seat. The straps have to be at or above her shoulders when forward facing. Kaedyn is also tall. He is forward facing in a Britax frontier 85! He will 5 point harness I. That till 85lbs! Then he can booster in it up to 120 lbs. itnout yea if the straps are below her shoulders she no longer fits and can be dangerously hurt in an accident:(!

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  3. At this point, I just know most of it. I have researched it a lot in the past though. I started researching when I was pregnant with Brentley.
    But yeah, if her shoulders are above, then she probably needs a bigger car seat.

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  4. Jessika: No. They are at the highest slot, but she is almost taller than the highest slot. :/

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  5. I'm sorry I meant highest. I hate typing on my phone! But if they are still above her shoulders she should be good but once she is taller and thu are below it's time for a new seat but at lease this will give you time to look into which seat you would like and maybe some deals!

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