When you have a baby, everything takes more time. Gearing up for a simple excursion to the park requires anticipating every possible eventuality. Will your baby need to eat or be changed while you’re out? Does she have adequate protection from the sun? Did you pack extra blankets or clothes in case she gets cold?
Traveling with your little one by car can be even more of an ordeal. And ensuring your baby is optimally protected in her car seat isn’t always straightforward. In today’s post, we provide the latest safety recommendations for car seat usage.
When it comes to picking a car seat, experts have consistently recommended using an infant carrier—instead of a convertible car seat—for very young babies. This carrier offers the most protection for newborns.
However, guidelines on when to switch your baby into a convertible car seat have recently changed. Common practice has been for parents to use an infant carrier until their baby exceeds its weight limits. In fact, the more important measurement to monitor is height. If a baby gets too long for an infant carrier—i.e., the top of her head is less than one inch from the top of the car seat—the protective shell no longer offers adequate head protection. If such a baby is involved in a car accident, their head is 13 times more likely to collide with the front seat back. Therefore, experts recommend moving babies into a convertible car seat by age one at the latest.
In the past, car seat manufacturers have advised moving your child’s car seat from a rear-facing to forward-facing orientation at age two. However, recent safety tests have demonstrated that small children are safest in the rear-facing position. Therefore, their car seat should remain rear-facing until the child exceeds the height and weight limitations of this orientation—which could be as late as age four.
Being involved in a car crash with your baby in tow can be terrifying. However, following the above safety tips can help ensure their protection.