27 Jul 2016
Car seat safety is essential when it comes to protecting your child during travel. However, knowing the correct ways of installing and using car seats as your child grows up can be tricky. Steer clear of these common mistakes parents commit when it comes to car seat safety.
Purchasing a used car seat without finding out its history
Ensure the car seat includes instructions and a label displaying the date of manufacture and model number. It should not be more than 6 years old, no visible damage or missing parts and has not been recalled. Avoid using the car seat if you are unsure about its history.
Placing the car seat in the wrong place
The safest option is to position the car seat rear-facing in the back seats, away from active air bags to reduce impact during accidents. Avoid placing your child in the co-passenger seat in front as he/she may be flung towards the windscreen in the event of an accident.
Incorrect installation or buckling up
Read the manufacturer's instructions before installing the car seat. Keep the seat tightly secured and facing the correct direction. Position the car seat's carrying handle according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Recline the car seat as per the manufacturer's instructions so your child's head doesn't droop forward. If you're putting a newborn in the car seat, place tightly rolled baby blankets alongside him/her to prevent slouching.
Shifting to a forward-facing seat too soon
It is recommended for your child to be riding rear-facing until he/she reaches 2 years or the maximum weight of 16 kilos. When you make the switch, place the car seat in the back seat as instructed by the manufacturer and use the seat belt and tether strap, which hooks to the top of the seat and latches to an anchor in the vehicle, for extra stability.
Using a booster seat too early
The switch to a booster seat is no longer based on age, but height according to the Traffic Police's guideline that states "adults below the height of 1.35m shall use booster seats or approved adjustable seat belts to lower the risk of injury in the event of an accident". While most child car seats can hold children up to an average of 3 years old, take note of the specifications and limitations of the car seat.
Using the booster seat incorrectly
Use both the lap and shoulder belts. Ensure the lap belt is snug across your child''s upper thighs while the shoulder belt goes across the middle of his/her chest and shoulders. Backless booster seats must also be used with both types of belts - never a lap-only belt.
Using adult seat belt too soon
Generally, children are ready to use an adult seat belt between the ages of 8 and 12 years old. Your child is ready when the lap belt rests flat and snugly across his/her upper thighs, and the shoulder belt rests on the middle of your child's shoulder and chest - not on the neck or face.
Using a car seat as an alternative crib
Although it's essential to buckle up your child into a car seat during travel, it's not meant as a replacement crib at home. Studies have shown that sitting upright in a car seat might compress a newborn's chest and cause lower levels of oxygen. Avoid letting your child sleep or relax in the car seat for long periods out of the car.