Summer vacation is just around the corner. Soon, the kiddies will be out of school, beautiful weather will smile down on us, and your family may be tempted to take some road trips. Traveling with kids is great fun but before you all hop in the car, let’s revisit the basics for the safest car seat position and some new LATCH rules for 2014.
As some of you may already know, car seat rules changed in 2014! It’s now more important to read all car seat labels and car manufacture LATCH weight restrictions to properly factor in the weight of the car seat with the weight of your child. Cars and car seats that are 2014 and newer should be compliant with new guidelines, with easy-to-understand instructions.
Most safety experts agree the 2014 safest car seat position is in the middle of the backseat of your car. This keeps the child away from airbags and the window seat impact zones should an accident occur. If you have more than 1 child, the youngest (or most fragile child), should be in the middle position. The problem some parents are facing with this new advice, however, is that many cars don’t have a LATCH system for the middle seat position. Though the lower anchors are now required by law, many car companies only put them in the window seats. So… if your car is in complete working order, has no broken or worn parts, and supports the LATCH lock and tether system for your model of car seat, the middle of the seat is the best car seat position for 2014.
Here are some tips on the safest car seat position and general car safety for 2014.
- Check the car seat tags to make sure your child is the right height, weight and age for the seat.
- If you buy a used seat, check the car seat history and manufacture date to make sure it hasn’t been in an accident or expired (@5 years is the max life of a car seat).
- Allow no more than 1 inch of movement from the seat when you strap it into your car’s LATCH system.
- Clip chest clips high at arm pit level and make sure you cannot pinch any excess strap. Though it may seem tight to you, a snug strap fit is very important for child safety.
- Depending on your chair, use the lower anchors, top tether and/or seat best for a seat belt that locks into place (and learn how to lock your properly seat belt after installation).
- Only allow soft toys in the car. Toys, cups and other hard objects become flying projectiles in an accident and can seriously injure your baby.
- Lead by example. If your child always sees you bucking up, they’ll be more likely to carry-on the safe habit.
- If your child is old enough to use a regular seat belt, the middle position is only the safest if it has the lap and shoulder harness.
- Babies should stay rear-facing until they are about 2 years of age, or 22-40 lbs, depending on car seat model.
- Though not recommended, if you must drive with more than 3 children, a forward-facing car seat can be placed in the front seat.
- If you are a traveler and plan to fly with your children, shop for a car seat that is FAA approved.
Properly installing a car seat is one of the most important things you’ll do for your baby so make sure it’s ready before you leave the hospital or take your child in a new seat. The hospital staff is not trained to help you (like I was mistakenly told) so have this done in advance.
The safest car seat position, child safety technology and general child-rearing advice is always changing so it’s a good idea to occasionally check for current information on the safest car seat position and safety advice. If you have questions, please visit the safercar.gov site to search for certified car seat installation technicians in your area. Most of the time, they’ll inspect, help you install, and update you on the safest car seat position for free.
What is your favorite car seat? Do you have any safety tips for us or thoughts on the safest car seat position? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!