Friday, October 19, 2012

Carseat Safety For Your Little One

The biggest parenting regret that I have so far in my journey, is not doing my research on carseats and strollers when registering for them while I was pregnant. I simply chose the carseat based off of price and appearance (don't judge). Baby A quickly outgrew his mediocre Evenflow infant seat and the stroller broke when he was 7 months old (don't even get me started on that piece of junk stroller). I moved him into his Graco ComfortSport convertible carseat and he was very comfortable and happy in that. It served its purpose until about a month and a half ago when I decided to brush up on my carseat knowledge and do some research. I was horrified to find out that the ComfortSport only rear faced to 30 pounds. 30 pounds?! That's it?! And it only forward faced to 40 pounds. What on earth was the point of this carseat??!! Needless to say, I quickly ran out and bought a new carseat after doing extensive research.

There were a lot of carseats that I considered before I made a final decision. I was very curious about the Graco Size 4 Me but it seemed to be sold out everywhere and back ordered. I wanted Baby A out of the ComfortSport as soon as possible so I turned my attention to another Graco carseat- the MyRide. I scoured the Internet looking at information, weighing the pros and cons, and trying to figure out if the MyRide was a good fit for us. There were a lot of other contenders on my list such as the Britax Boulevard, the Diono Radian, the Evenflo Triumph, and as I said prior, the Graco Size4Me. In the end it was the Graco MyRide 65 with Safety Surround that stole my heart and ended up being Baby A's new ride. One of my biggest factors with buying the new car seat is that I really wanted to see it in person to be able to touch it and really get a grasp on how big it was. Unfortunately, a lot of those carseats were not available in stores so I was limited to what I was able to see. The biggest selling point on the MyRide for me was the Safety Surround. The Safety Surround added two extra features that would protect Baby A in the event of a car accident. It included the headrest that is about an inch thick of memory foam on each side and moves so it grows with your child, and a seat insert that is also memory foam. In this seat Baby A can rear face until he is 40 pounds and forward face until he is 65 pounds. I was sold!

 (Left to Right) The Carseat, The Extra Seat Insert, 5 Point Harness

 Safety Surround Headrest
Why Rear-Face?
I plan on leaving Baby A in the rear facing position for as long as absolutely possible. Just because you are able to turn your little one around at 1 year and 20 pounds doesn't mean that that is a safe idea. Studies have shown that rear facing children have a higher chance of avoiding severe injuries in the event of a car accident. A recent conversation with my mom sparked my interest in finding out the stats on rear facing versus forward facing injuries. My favorite diagram came from The Parenting Patch who actually found the photo from a European website called Securatot.
Photo Credits: Securatot
If that won't convince you to leave your child rear facing for as long as possible, I don't know what will. Now, I'm not saying that if you forward face your child you are a horrible parent. I will admit fully that Baby A has in fact rode forward facing and has to whenever we take Mr. Hunky's truck! Mr. Hunky has an Extended Cab Toyota Tacoma and it has absolutely no space for a carseat. If we rear face Baby A's carseat, the front seat has to be pushed completely to the dash board for it to fit. Which in turn leaves no space for me. Why don't I just sit behind Mr. Hunky? Because he has long legs and has his seat almost all the way to the back! Literally no room for mom. So up until Baby A turned a year we would just take my car everywhere, but at times it is nice to hop in the truck. We now leave Baby A's old ComfortSport carseat in Mr. Hunky's truck, forward facing, for when we need to use it. Although I am not a fan of forward facing so young, we pretty much have no choice.
Why Isn't Rear Facing Longer a Law or Guideline?
Well folks, it is! Not a law, but a guideline! According to an article published March 21, 2011 (yes, that long ago!) the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) announced recommendations that parents keep their little ones rear facing until they are two years old or until they reach the height and weight maximums of their carseat (you can find this in the carseats manual or by looking up your carseat manual for free HERE). Considering most convertible carseats rear face to 40 or some even 45 pounds, the two year goal is easily attainable by most children.
What About When My Child Needs to Turn to Forward Facing?
My recommendation for a forward facing child is to purchase a carseat that will forward face them as long as possible. Most convertible carseats will forward face your child to 65 or 70 pounds, but there are some on the market now that will hold your child to 100 pounds. Keeping them in a convertible carseat for as long as possible is safer than transferring them to a booster seat because of the 5 point harness that a convertible carseat has. There are many carseats on the market that are actually convertible seat to booster carseats such as the Britax Frontier 85 which forward faces in the 5 point harness mode to 85 pounds and then transfers to booster seat mode to 120 pounds. The AAP and NHTSA recommend that a child is in a 5 point harness well into elementary years and in a booster seat until 80-100 pounds.
When Will I Know My Child is Ready To Be Out Of Their Booster? has put out a Safety Belt Fit Test for you to test your child to see if they are ready to sit as an adult in the car. Take the test below to find out of your child is ready. If they do not pass the test, then your child is not ready to move out of their booster.

The Safety Belt Fit Test

  • Have your child sit in a back seat with his or her bottom and back against the vehicle’s seat back. Do the child’s knees bend at the seat’s edge?

    • If yes, go on.

    • If not, the child must stay in a booster seat.

  • Buckle the seat belt. Does the lap belt stay low on the hips and high on the thighs?

    • If yes, go on.

    • If it rests on the soft part of the stomach, the child must stay in a booster seat.
  • Look at the shoulder belt. Does it lie on the collarbone and shoulder?

    • If yes, go on. If it is on the face or neck, the child must remain in a booster seat.

    • Never put the shoulder belt under the child’s arm or behind the child’s back. Do not allow children to play with the shoulder portion of a seat belt. Treat it like any cord.
  • Can the child maintain the correct seating position with the shoulder belt on the shoulder and the lap belt low across the hips?

    • If yes, the child has passed the Safety Belt Fit Test.

    • If no, the child should return to a booster seat and re-test in a month.
Test Credits:

Important Reminders:

When buckling your rear facing little one into their seat, remember that their harness straps should be at or below the shoulders and the harness clip should always be in line with their armpits.

When buckling your forward facing little on into their seat, remember that their harness straps should be at or above the shoulders and the harness clip should always be in line with their armpits.

For an awesome article on harness safety check out this link

Always remember that the back seat is the absolute safest place for children and your child should stay out of the front seat until they are at least thirteen (13) years old!

Last but not least, if you have any questions as to what the laws are in your state or doubts about whether you have installed your car seat correctly please remember that you can drive to your local highway patrol station and they will be more than willing to help you with your carseat installation and answer questions. Some local fire departments will help as well, but I would recommend calling them before you drive over. If you do not feel comfortable going to your highway patrol station or fire department you can check out Safety Kids to see if there is a local carseat check up/inspection site or event going on in your area!

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