The safety of your baby is of utmost importance when you are driving. When they are born, their bones are still developing and becoming harder, which is why they cannot even hold up their own heads. This is the reason why baby car seats have been designed for the little ones who cannot sit up and use the built-in seatbelts of the car.
There are various sizes that will support your child depending on its weight and height, which is why buying the right one is crucial. In the unlikely event of an accident, the car seat can mean the difference between life and death.
For newborns, there are detachable infant car seats that are sold normally as part of a set. It can attach to a seat base or may be installed in the car using the seatbelt and when outdoors, it can go on top of the stroller. They are highly useful because infants are delicate and this saves parents from moving their newborn from car seat to stroller or to go home; they simply detach the infant seat and bring it and the baby along.
These types of infant seats are normally designed for the first year of life, though some may be used longer depending on how old or how heavy your child is. Normally, these car seats are up to 9 to 15 kilos or until the baby is 9 to 18 months.
Convertible Car Seat
The second seat your kid will have is the convertible car seat. They are called convertible because they can both be used rear-facing or forward-facing. They are no longer transportable like the infant seats, as they are also bigger and need to be installed in your car.
The seats are normally appropriate from birth up to age 4 or 5 years, depending on the model. Some might even be used longer because they can be converted to a booster seat. Usually, at the age of 2 or depending on the model’s specifications, children can transition from rear- to front-facing.
Safety Recommendations For Car Seat Use
While the recommendation in the past was to keep your child rear-facing for the first year of life, this is now being extended to at least 2 years or for as long as possible. This is because crash test results have proven that front-facing seats put kids in danger of being badly injured due to the whiplash effect.
While adults and bigger kids can sustain less injuries, infants and toddlers up to 2 still do not have strong enough bones to survive a collision crash. The best solution is to keep them in rear-facing car seats where they are more protected against this kind of injury.
When To Change From An Infant To A Convertible Seat
While there are convertible seats out there in the market that are already appropriate for newborns, many parents find the infant seat easier to use because it is more portable.
Another important factor to consider is price. Infant seats are much cheaper compared to convertible seats, and some parents prefer to use the infant seat for as long as possible. However, they are simply delaying a purchase that is necessary for the safe travel for their baby.
Changing to a convertible seat is like a sign that your baby is now a toddler. This means the best time to transition your child is by his or her first birthday. The simple reason for this is that the said seat is safer in the event of an accident.
Recent tests have shown that 53% of children who sat on an infant seat will hit their heads on the seat in front of them, while the convertible rear-facing seat will prevent this by up to 96%. The reason for this is that convertible seats have longer shells and the appropriate shape and size to support your kid’s head.
Reasons For Making The Transition
1. Height Makes A Difference
Car seats have a weight guide to indicate when you should change to the next one. However, if you have an especially big child, you will notice him or her outgrowing the infant seat quickly. This is a clear sign that the car seat is no longer the best option to keeping your kid safe in the car, especially when you see your baby’s head sticking out on top of the infant seat.
2. You Will Buy One Anyway
In the past, it was possible to just transition from an infant seat to a booster seat or a front-facing seat. Because of newer tests on these models, the recommendation is now to keep children in rear-facing seats until the age of 2 years or maybe even longer. In some states, this is even mandatory. Because of this, you will definitely end up buying a convertible seat anyway, so you might as well do so at the right time to have peace of mind that your child is traveling safely at all times.
3. Added Protection For Your Kids’ Head
Convertible seats have head support that provides additional protection. Because your toddler’s bones are still developing, this is important in the unlikely event of a car accident. The head support can also be adjusted to your child’s height, so make sure it is always in the right place, cradling your kid’s head at all times.
4. Safety Is More Important Than Convenience
Back in the old days, it was much easier to transport your infant around in the car seat. But the truth is, once they reach 1 year, your arms will no longer like carrying both the seat and your growing child. So hanging on to your infant seat due to convenience is not a solution.
Moreover, the infant car seat is not the best place for your baby to sleep on because it is not good for his or her back. Lastly, with new seats being installed through a LATCH system (or ISOFIX in Europe), these seats are very stable even with active children. In the end, the safety of your child both during and after a drive is the most important reason for the transition.
5. They Last A Few Years
Car seats are not cheap and if you have more than 1 child, you will need to invest more money. However, there are already convertible seats out there that are fully worth it because they can also be rebuilt into a booster seat after a few years. Imagine, a rear-facing seat, front-facing seat, and a booster seat in one. Despite the higher price tag, you will save yourself from buying a separate booster seat in the future.
Safety Tips For Your Child During Driving
When purchasing a car seat, make sure to mention your car seat model to know which ones can be installed in it. Some seats require LATCH in order to be set up in a car. To avoid wasting money, do your research first or ask an expert.
Nothing else is more important than your little one’s safety, which is why you buy him or her a car seat. Beyond buying the right model that is appropriate and keeping your little one snug and secure at all times, you need to make sure that the seat is installed properly. Lots of people think that this is easy, but you would be surprised at the high number of child seats that fail to protect children due to wrong installation.
Beyond reading the manual from start to finish, you can also go to a store or some experts who check if child car seats have been installed properly. This service can easily be found for free.
The last important factor is your child itself. Lots of toddlers get bored or annoyed when they have to sit in the car seat and buckle up. If they are active, they will most likely find a way to get loose from their seatbelts. Unfortunately, this is one of the causes of injury during accidents. All the safety features of your expensive convertible seat are useless if you do not use them properly.
Despite your kid’s resistance, you should always buckle him or her up and keep the head support at the right place, just over the shoulders. Many parents underestimate the risk of accidents even if they are just going for a short ride. In fact, statistics have shown otherwise, with 52% of accidents happening within a 5-mile radius and 77% within 15 miles of your home. Besides, letting your kid without a belt will send a mixed message about how important the child seat truly is.
Beyond being mandated by the law, buying car seats for your precious child is simply the right thing to do to provide protection for your him or her. Although they are quite a big expense, especially if you buy separately, you will be able to feel secure every time you are on the road with your child. Just make sure that you are using it properly because otherwise, your expense is all for nothing when your child still ends up injured.
- AAP Updates Recommendation on Car Seats – American Academy of Pediatrics