Greenwich Hospital offers some tips for making sure your little one is buckled up safely and correctly.
Why are car seats important?
When used correctly, car seats can help reduce and prevent injury and death. Every state requires that infants and children ride buckled up. Motor vehicle related injuries and deaths account for 40% of all unintentional injuries to children ages 14 and under.
What is the "BEST" car seat for my infant?
The best car seat is one that fits your child's size and weight and can be installed correctly in your car. You don't need to spend a lot of money. All new car seats must meet a strict government safety standard. New car seats are recommended for all infants. All new car seats must meet stringent safety standards. If a car seat is received as a gift, look for the label indicating safety standards. Never use a car seat that is not labeled or that has been in an accident.
How can I be sure my car seat is installed properly?
All car seats come with manufacturer instructions and it is important that you read both the owner's manual for the car seat as well as your vehicle's owners manual regarding car seat installation. Car seat installation varies with the type of restraint system in your vehicle. Not every car seat will fit in every car. It's a good idea to try the seat in your vehicle prior to purchase. Remember that the safest place for your children to ride is in the back seat.
What types of car seats are available?
The two most common infant car seats available are as follows:
1. Infant-only Safety Seats have a separate base that can be installed in the vehicle with the safety belt and left in place. The infant safety seat locks into the base for motor vehicle travel and converts to an infant carrier outside the vehicle. The infant safety seat can also be used without the base with the safety belt through an alternative belt path.
2. Convertible Safety Seats: are used facing the rear for infants from birth up to 35 pounds depending on the seat (be sure to read the owners manual to find out the weight and height limits of the seat). When the convertible seat is used rear-facing it should be in a reclined position at 45 degrees with the harness at or just below the child's shoulder level. Car seats should be rear-facing until the child is 1 year old and weighs 20 lbs.
For forward facing seats the seat should be placed in the upright position and the harness straps moved into the upper slots (unless you have a Britax seat). The seat can be used until the child reaches 40 pounds for most models (again read your instructions closely) or the child exceeds the height limits of the seat.
- Make sure that you are using the proper belt path for the seatbelt in the forward facing mode. This is usually the path behind the child's back.
- Be sure to complete and return the registration card when you purchase a seat. This is the only way the company can contact you should the seat be recalled for any reason.
How can I learn more about car seat safety?
Car seat safety is covered in the Tender Beginnings baby care classes at Greenwich Hospital. Greenwich Hospital also has several certified car seat technicians on staff that are specially trained by Fairfield Safe Kids Coalition to check your car seat. Greenwich Hospital also has a "Dial-a-Belt" seat on the maternity unit to show you how to install your particular seat with the type of seat belts that are in your car. If you have questions you may contact any of the following resources:
Organization: Greenwich Hospital
Contact: "Warm Line"
Organization: Safe Kids Coalition
Contact: Charlie Conway
Safe Kids Coalition: www.fcsafekids.org
American Association of Pediatrics: www.aap.org
Greenwich Hospital is a 174-bed community hospital, serving lower Fairfield County Connecticut and Westchester County New York. It is a major academic affiliate of Yale University School of Medicine and a member of the Yale New Haven Health System.
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