Expecting Moms – How to Prep Your Car for Your Newborn
You’ve been planning for nine months and are as ready as you’ll ever be to bring home your newborn bundle of joy. At home, a fully-equipped nursery adorned with the silkiest of blankets and softest of stuffed animals is ready to warmly welcome home the newest love of your life. Your hospital bag is packed and your top-rated rear-facing infant car seat is installed in the backseat of your vehicle. You know how to prep your car for your newborn, right?
Not so fast, according to research presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition, which found that 93% of new parents made at least one critical mistake when securing their car seat or their infant when leaving the hospital1. No need to worry. Here are the most common car seat blunders reported in the study and how you can pass the test:
1) Use the “one inch rule” when installing your seat
Nearly all cars and infant car seats since 2002 are manufactured with a LATCH system, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children and makes it easier to get the child seat installed correctly. Yet, 43% of car seats in the study were installed too loosely. Your child’s car seat should be firmly in place, giving no more than one inch of movement front-to-back or side-to-side. Be sure to check (and double check) the one inch rule and that your system is properly fastened before bringing home your newborn.
2) Fit is everything when it comes to your baby’s harness
According to the study, a rare few new parents had a true grasp on the right fit for their baby’s harness. Nearly 69% of parents fastened their infant in too loosely, 52% either set the harness clip too low or high, and 15% were not sure how to adjust the harness altogether. To get the right fit, the Mayo Clinic2 suggests placing the harness or chest clip even with your child’s armpits (not the abdomen or neck), making sure the straps and harness lie flat against your child’s chest and over his or her hips with no slack.
3) Beware (and aware) of after-market product
20% of parents in the study used after-market products that were not approved with their seat. Given the amount of shade covers, mirrors, swaddlers, pads and head support products that can be found anywhere baby products are sold, it’s a surprisingly low figure. The truth, it turns out, is that these products – unless specifically approved for your seat – may actually pose a threat to your infant by impeding the effectiveness of the harness, pushing your baby out of a protected posture, and even becoming a hazard themselves in a crash. To be safe, look for products from the same manufacturer as your car seat and make sure they are approved.
4) Get the right angle for your angel
Another common mistake made by 38% of new parents in the study was setting up the seat at the wrong angle. Per SaferCar.gov3, a resource of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-facing infant car seats are designed specifically to cradle and move with your child in the event of an accident to reduce the stress to the child’s fragile neck and spinal cord. It will also help protect your little one from slouching or rocking forward while driving. The proper angle settings vary depending on your product, so be sure to refer to this detail in your manufacturer’s manual.
5) Create a cushion for your baby
The rationale for rear-seat placement of an infant car seat is primarily to protect your baby from the impact of an airbag during an accident. Following this same logic, it’s important to keep a cushion of space around your car seat to act a buffer in the event of impact. This includes the front seat of your vehicle, yet 17% of parents in the study didn’t have enough space. The Mayo Clinic further suggests securing the car seat in a rear-center position when possible, away from proximity to doors and seats.
Bringing home your newborn should be one of the most exciting events in your lives. Taking the right safety measures will get you off to the best parental start.
For peace of mind, consult a local car seat inspection station near you. Families participating in the study who worked with a certified car seat technician prior to their child’s birth were 13 times less likely to make these common mistakes.
To support your growing family, make sure you (and your new little one) are properly covered in the event of an accident. For a car insurance coverage consultation and to see if you can save money, talk to a licensed Answer Financial agent at 1-855-750-6627 or get quotes online at AnswerFinancial.com.
May 7, 2015