Parenthood should’ve come with a manual because nurturing human beings until they reach adulthood can be a confusing yet enlightening time. Luckily for us, when we order car seats for our children, they come with an instruction manual. We don’t need to worry about figuring out how to install a car seat, or which car seat is best for our child as all these questions are answered in the manual. Nevertheless, parents still have to educate themselves on what actions they can take to secure their child’s safety in a car. I want to share six tips that have protected my children to this day, so other parents can also protect their children while on the road.

1. Buy the seat made for your child

Car seats sound like such an easy thing to purchase, right? Wrong! You will buy around 3-4 car seats for each of your children in one lifetime. A new seat needs to installed in your car once your child reaches a certain age or height (find this information in the manual of your car seat).

The first car seat you’ll buy will be an infant seat that will be rear-faced until your baby turns two to four. After they grow out of the infant seat, they will require a toddler’s car seat that can be both rear-facing or front-facing. It is important to keep your child rear-facing as much as you can until their legs grow up to the end of the seat. Subsequently, you will need to purchase a booster seat until your child is thirteen.

An expensive car seat doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better for your child. They will all perform the same function. What’s more important here is to buy the car seat your child will be the most comfortable and safe in.

2. Read the Manual For Real

Reading a car seat manual isn’t the same as reading the terms and conditions of a new subscription box you’re purchasing. So, don’t toss it in the trash as soon as it comes out of the box. Actually reading the instruction manual can be so important. It could save your child’s life if any danger were to pop out of nowhere.

The manual will tell you how to install the seat and keep it in place for the duration of its use. It will also inform you of how long it will last your child, and any additional safety precautions you can take to keep your child safe. It all comes down to making sure your child is safe on the road.

3. LATCH System or Seatbelt System

Many cars now come equipped with the LATCH system which stands for Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children. Yeah, it can be a mouthful. However, all these big words mean that your vehicle may be equipped with an anchor and tether that will keep the car seat in its place once connected. The anchor and tether will come in handy every time you install the car seat.

If your vehicle does not have this system in place, then putting the seatbelt over the car seat will work just the same. A seat belt will also secure your child in their car seat. You can find information in the manual to see if your car seat utilizes the LATCH system.

4. Children Stay In The Back

It is never a good idea to place a car seat in the front passenger seat by the driver, especially rear-facing infants. The passenger seat is equipped with airbags that can cause severe damage to your child’s head and torso if activated. The front seat is also more likely to collide first in a crash.

The best place to fixate a car seat in big cars is the middle row of seats. Your child will be the safest in the middle row. For smaller cars, children should always be buckled up in the back. Children over the age of 13 or a height of 4’9 can sit in the passenger seat.

5. Change Your Car Seat When Needed

Once your child grows out of a car seat, it is essential to buy a new one that better reciprocates with their growing height. As stated before, infant seats will last 2-4 years. Toddler seats will last 3-4 years, and a booster seat will last until your child turns 13. After the age of 13, they will no longer require a car seat.

Continuing to use a car seat that your child has grown out of can be very uncomfortable for them. It will constrict their legroom. The seatbelt or LATCH system will be awkwardly hugging your child, instead of protecting your child as it should.

6. No Car Seat After 13

Recognizing when your child has grown out of their booster seat can signify your child heading into their teen years. They no longer require any assistance in a car other than a lap and shoulder seatbelt. The lap and shoulder seatbelt should go around their upper thighs and across their shoulders to have them secure in their seats.

Your child can also graduate to the front passenger side, where the views are more up close and personal. More times than not, children love experiencing new things and can’t wait to sit next to the driver in a car.

Car seats are more relevant to learn about than one would’ve hoped. But once every parent knows how to incorporate them into their child’s life, they can rest assured they’ve done everything in their hands to keep their child safe when they are on the road.

The first step would be to buy a car seat that suits your child’s height and age. Then, by reading the manual parents can install the car seat in its correct way. Recognizing whether or not your car seat comes with the LATCH system will be helpful when installing the car seat. Remember to buy a new seat as your child grows periodically. Also, remind yourself never to put a child under the age of 13 in the front seat of your car.

This is a guest post by:

Keren Simanova is a busy mommy by day and a passionate writer by night. While spending countless hours researching car seats for her children, she created an educational car seat blog, CarSeatsMom.com to educate other mothers about the importance of car seats. Further, along the way, the blog became an invaluable source for research of a variety of car seat brands, unique features, and mommies’ reviews.

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