Looking at the history of car seats, we’ve come a long way since the days of babies riding on their parent’s lap or in those clunky metal chair frames that didn’t do an ounce of good when it came to child safety.
Today, car seats are rigorously tested, including crash testing, and manufactured with hard plastic and foam for energy absorption, in case of impact. But even with these safety precautions in place, it is important that parents choose the correct car seat for their child and that it is installed properly. Easier said than done, right?
That’s where car seat clinics can help.
Whether your child is 1 day old, 4 years old, or still on the way, it’s never too soon or too late to attend a car seat clinic. A Certified Car Seat Technician will help you properly install it, as well as check for any defects, recalls, or other safety issues. They will also talk to you about the proper positioning of your baby, where the straps should be placed, etc.
If you have a toddler or young child in a booster seat, a technician can also advise you on whether your toddler should be rear-facing or forward facing, as well as when it’s time to move them from a convertible car seat to a high-back with a five-point harness.
Planning your car seat inspection
Car seat clinics generally last 30-45 minutes. You will want to drive in the vehicle your child will mostly be riding in, and bring the car seat you will be using (if you have one). It is also helpful if your child, who will be riding in the vehicle, can be there too. If the child cannot be present during the car seat appointment, bring a note of their height, weight, and age.
Points to consider when
purchasing a car seat
No car seat brand is the “best” or the “safest,” states the American Academy of Pediatrics. The best seat is the one that fits your child’s size, fits well in your vehicle, and can be used properly every time you drive. Here are some other points to consider:
• Buy a new car seat whenever possible.
• Expensive does not always equal better quality.
• If you purchase a used car seat: avoid expired or recalled seats, or one that has been in a car accident. The car seat must have all its parts and readable labels and instructions.
• To check for recalls, check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at nhtsa.gov/recalls
• If at all possible, purchase your car seat directly from the manufacturer.
Parenting Now currently offers in-person car seat inspections and installation help by appointment only at our office at 86 Centennial Loop in Eugene. Please email [email protected] to make an appointment.
Amanda Bedortha of Parenting Now – a non-profit organization that provides parenting education and support to families with young children.