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What parents are getting wrong about child safety seats

In the weeks leading up to a new baby's arrival, many parents-to-be take on the task of installing the car seat. It's seen as a monumental moment — the first reality check that a baby actually is on the way. It's also often a moment in which a look of confusion and fear glosses over the faces of the parents, who can be easily intimidated by the system of latches, hooks and belts that need to be secured in order to protect their precious bundle of joy.

Of course, the ever-changing car seat recommendations, regulations and laws don't make the process any easier. According to Today's Parent, these are some of the most common mistakes that new parents make when installing and using child safety seats:

 

Placing the car seat forward- facing while the child is still too young

Colorado state law requires that parents keep their child in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least one year old and 20 pounds. All parents who are expecting a new baby should install their infant car seat in the rear-facing position. While the law requires that children remain rear-facing through their first year of life, it should be noted that most medical and safety experts believe it is safer to keep children rear-facing for much longer. The American Academy of Pediatrics feels it is best for a child to remain rear-facing for at least 2 years, and longer if the parent prefers.

Not installing the seat tightly

New parents who are installing a car seat for the first time are often trying to awkwardly maneuver through their vehicle while reading through the fine print of the installation instruction manual. As a result, some parents complete the process only to discover that the seat wiggles around, despite being connected to the LATCH system. The seat should not move more than an inch in any direction, according to Parents Magazine. Parents should seek guidance from a car seat installation expert if they are struggling to get the installation tight enough within their vehicle.

Installing with an improper recline

Rear-facing car seats must be reclined in the vehicle in order to be installed properly. This goes beyond the comfort of the baby, but is actually an important safety feature of the car seat. The recline angle needs to be just right in order to protect the baby's head — which is significantly heavier than any other part of the body — in the event of a collision. Many car seats have a meter to measure the correct angle. Parents should always verify that the seat is reclined properly. 

Choosing a used car seat

New babies can cost a lot of money, and many thrifty parents opt to use second-hand products in order to save a few dollars. However, the car seat is the one item that all parents should purchase new. Parents have no way of verifying if a used car seat has been involved in a past accident. In addition, many used car seats are nearing their expiration date, and may not be up-to-date with the latest safety standards.

Forgetting to lock the safety belt

The safety belt that is used to install the car seat within the vehicle must be locked after the installation is complete. Parents who are having difficulty with this step should consult their vehicle user manual for more information. It is imperative that the safety belt is locked, as this prevents the seat from shifting in the event of an accident.

It should be noted that car seats should not be used after they have been involved in an accident — even if the child was not in the seat at the time of the accident. Any collision with the vehicle could compromise the integrity of the car seat and leave any child who uses the seat at risk. 

For more information on what you should do if your child is involved in a car accident and to learn about car seat safety standards, contact our Denver personal injury law firm today.

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