Buckles, and straps, and clips – oh my! Installing a car seat can be tricky, and despite best intentions, many parents do not get it right. A recent study of families that were taking their newborn home for the first time from the hospital found that nearly 95% of parents made at least one error in either positioning or installing their newborns’ car seat. The most common errors made by these parents included having the harness too loose and clipping the harness lower than recommended. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children. Further, children who are not appropriately restrained in a car seat, booster seat, or who are not wearing a seat belt are seven times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury if they are involved in a motor vehicle crash as compared to children who are properly restrained.
How do you make sure that your child’s car seat is installed correctly?
- Take advantage of any child passenger safety programs or prenatal classes that are offered by hospitals or community organizations to receive hands-on instruction on car seat safety for newborns.
- Check out these resources developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provide specific recommendations for selecting the right car seat, as well as important tips for how to correctly install your car seat.
- Visit https://www.safercar.gov/cpsApp/cps/index.htm to find a child car seat inspection station at a police department, fire department or hospital near you. Certified technicians will inspect your child car seat, in most cases, free of charge – and show you how to correctly install and use it.
Hoffman, B. D., Gallardo, A. R., & Carlson, K. F. (2016). Unsafe from the start: Serious misuse of car safety seats at Newborn Discharge. The Journal of Pediatrics, 171, 48-54. Available at: http://ac.els-cdn.com/S0022347615014596/1-s2.0-S0022347615014596-main.pdf?_tid=b30fd6f4-4b88-11e7-a644-00000aab0f01&acdnat=1496843795_177a36cac5c4e14d1e9c2b1c17fbba06
Sauber-Schatz, E. K., Thomas, A. M., & Cook, L. J. (2015). Motor Vehicle Crashes, Medical Outcomes, and Hospital Charges Among Children Aged 1–12 Years — Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System, 11 States, 2005–2008. MMWR. Surveillance Summaries, 64(8), 1-32. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6408.pdf