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Making Sure Your Child's Car Seat Is Properly Installed

These days there are so many different child car safety seats out the market that it’s difficult for parents to know what is best. However, simply having a reliable car seat is not enough to keep kids safe; parents also need to understand how to use them properly. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann spoke with an expert to navigate us through some of the common mistakes.

That’s Daphne Greenlee, coordinator for Safe Kids at St. John’s in Springfield, demonstrating the proper way to install a child’s car seat. Greenlee says it’s important to take time to know all of the features of your particular model.“Probably one of the biggest mistakes that we see, that parents make, is they don’t take time to read the owner’s manual. And that is extremely important because it has all of the information, not only about how to install the seat or how to take care of it, but also to make sure that they are using the seat correctly,” Greenlee said.

Greenlee says that it’s important for children to remain in the backseat until at least 13 years old, and that is also the safest location for car seats to be installed. Young children should be kept in car seats until they have outgrown height and weight requirements for that particular model, and are at least 4 years old. Once they meet certain height and weight requirements, they graduate to using a booster seat. Greenlee cautions that infants should ride facing the rear of the car.“Another thing that parents want to do is turn their baby around too soon. And there has been a lot of controversy, and people think that as soon as the baby’s feet touch the back, or that they can sit up, that they should be forward-facing. And what the Academy of Pediatrics recommends is that the child stays rear-facing as long as possible because it actually protects their head and spine so much better,” said Greenlee.

Greenlee stresses that it is critical for parents to turn in the warranty card that comes with each new car seat, because this is the only way manufacturers can get a hold of the family in the event of a recall. She adds that there is also a toll-free number or website for each model, on the side of the seat itself, which can be used to register. Greenlee says getting familiar with the car seat is a parent’s best defense.

“The main thing I would say, especially for new moms and dads, is to make sure to take time to play with your car seat before the baby gets here. Know how to adjust all of the straps, know how to fit the baby in there, try it out on a teddy bear, and give yourself a chance to get comfortable with it,” said Greenlee.

Safe Kids offers educational events for parents the second Saturday of each month, at various places around Springfield. Parents can also schedule individual appointments. Their goal is not just to install a car seat safely, but to ensure that parents learn how to do it themselves. Click here to find a link to more information about the Safe Kids events. For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.