Congratulations! You’re going to be a parent. You’ve probably thoroughly researched the safest baby gear around and obsessed about nursery décor, but there’s one more thing to put on your pre-baby to-do list: Make sure your baby’s car seat is properly installed and you know how to make sure your baby is safely in place.
Question 1: Where should the car seat be installed?
For optimal safety, the center rear seat is the ideal place for a car seat, preferably using a LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system, rather than standard vehicle safety belts. If you have to choose between the middle seat without a LATCH in place and a side seat with a LATCH system, choose the middle seat, using the seat belt to secure the base. In order to ensure proper installation, press down firmly on your car seat base and tighten the belt. If it’s installed securely, the base will not be able to be moved more than an inch, from side to side. To see how to install a rear-facing seat, check out this video below from Allstate Insurance. Like the rear-facing car seat in the video, infant seat bases need to be positioned at a certain angle, sometimes requiring the use of a pool noodle or rolled-up towel.
If you’re still not confident that your child’s car seat has been correctly installed, contact a local Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) at your fire station or police station. (You can also visit SaferCar.gov to find an inspection location near you.)
Question 2: How can I make sure my child is securely harnessed in his or her car seat?
First, you’ll want to make sure that the shoulder straps are positioned at the proper level for your child, which is below shoulder level. After that, two basic tests can help you ensure that your child is securely harnessed into his or car seat. First, make sure the chest clip is positioned properly, even with the arm pits.
Second, be sure that the harness is tight enough to be effective. If you can pinch the straps above the chest clip, it is too loose. (To make sure your child is not unnecessarily uncomfortable, make sure you can also slide a finger or two between your child’s body and the harness.) In winter, you’ll only be able to cinch the harness tightly enough to ensure safety if your child is not wearing a big, puffy coat; a puffy coat will trap air, which in the event of a crash can translate in up to 4 inches of slack in the harness. Watch this video below for more details.
For more details on making sure your vehicle is as safe as possible, for your new baby, check out Part 2.
The Nicholas Insurance Agency, led by Greg Nicholas, is a family owned business serving the York county, Pennsylvania region. In the insurance business since 1981, Greg Nicholas helps families, businesses and individuals understand the value of different insurance products and make wise decisions when selecting the best insurance products for their specific situations.
Offering exclusively Allstate insurance products, the Nicholas Agency provides auto, homeowners, rental and landlord insurance as well as life & disability, recreational vehicle, motorcycle and personal liability insurance.
For more information, visit our two York, PA locations at Westgate Plaza or York Marketplace or call us at (717) 764-2024.
Image credits: Top © Melissa Schalke/Fotolia.