It is fairly common knowledge that the safest way for your newborn to travel in the car is in a car seat. However, what you may not know is an incorrectly installed car seat or improperly used harness can put your child at significant risk in the event of a crash. Today, we are talking about car seat safety and, more specifically, how to harness your newborn. It should be noted that there are some ways to ensure your car seat is properly installed and your little one’s harness is on them correctly. If you have doubts about either operation, be sure to visit a community car seat check or contact a local child passenger safety technician (CPST) to have them inspect your car seat and teach how it should be used. This blog is not a substitute for having your car seat checked by a CPST.
The chest clip is often referred to as a pre-crash positioner for the straps because their role is to keep the straps on your child’s shoulders. As a result, they play an integral role in proper car seat safety by allowing the straps to do their job in the event of an accident (more on this in the next section). Make sure that the chest clip is properly secured and located at armpit level on your child to ensure proper function.
The straps are one of the most crucial parts of the car seat safety system because they are responsible for keeping your baby in the seat during a crash. Therefore, it is critical that they are used correctly and positioned accordingly. As mentioned, the straps should go over your baby’s shoulders but should also never be bunched or twisted. Since we are discussing harnessing newborns, the car seat must be rear facing which means the straps should be at or below the shoulders and tight enough to pass the “pinch test.” If you attempt to pinch the straps with fingers along the line from the chest clip to the shoulder but are unable to secure the strap between your fingers, it is tight enough to secure your child.
To ensure proper car seat safety, you should only use items and accessories that come with your seat. This means that the use of aftermarket products is considered a no-no regarding child passenger safety. If you need additional support for your baby, use two rolled up blankets. Check out these tips from the car seat lady for proper use of blankets or towels for additional head support.
In addition to the information provided above, here are some final things to keep in mind in terms of car seat safety. Never leave a baby in their car seat while you are doing things around the house or unable to monitor them. When a child is left in a carrier or car seat that is not installed in a car, the angle that your baby sits at can lead to positional asphyxiation which can be fatal for newborns. If your car seat is ever involved in a crash, it most likely needs to be replaced. Contact the manufacturer or consult your owner’s manual for more information. Car seats are designed to fit tightly against your baby. As a result, puffy jackets should not be worn while your child is in their car seat. Lastly, your carrier or car seat should not be placed on elevated surfaces or shopping carts.