Some things since the 1930’s have changed for the better, like car seat safety and leaving a hospital with a new baby! In the last six years of being a parent I have never installed a car seat by myself. I did not think I was “strong enough” and it looked so difficult. Putting your knee into the seat, back arched up to the vehicle ceiling and pulling and tugging to make sure the seat was secure – that was my husband’s job.  Leaving the hospital six years ago the car seat tech. broke a sweat, listed all of these rules and plum scared me to death that it was easier to just give my husband the responsibility.

Not anymore.

After three 12 hours days I can officially tell you I am a Nationally Certified Car Seat Technician. I can also tell you that I’m surprised my children are alive with all of the cute after market stuff I purchased, the flying projectiles in my car and the fact that my daughter’s seat was forward facing but only approved harness straps for a child up to 30 pounds and she is 35 pounds!

I’ve promised myself I will not lecture, point my finger at parents or become a car seat Nazi. No. No. No.

I am parent.

I am an educator.

I am a child advocate.

From my three days I do have some resources and information I want to share with you and hope you share with others because I wish I would have known all of this information.

1.  Owner’s Manual. Read it. Follow the manufacture guidelines and suggestions. Your child restraint has been tested for safety but only if you follow the manufacture guidelines will the safety tests apply. So if you don’t like to read instructions and think you know everything about your car and how the child seat works, I beg of you to read – it could save your child’s life.

2.  Ditch the cute stuff. I’m raising my hand guilty as ever of having mirrors, toys on the seat, car seat buckle tighteners, etc.  Unless a manufacture recommends or approves of a product you should not add it to the car seat. Products for in car use to see baby better, keep baby happy and protect them from the sun are most likely not tested for crash safety and guess what? They can say meets Federal standards and guidelines but there are none!  So do what you want, you are the parent or caregiver but maybe this will help you pause and think twice.

3. Get your seat checked. Nationally there are certified car seat tech’s waiting to help you. Find one near you and make an appointment, you’ll be so happy you did.

4. Become Certified. For real, as a parent, caregiver, grandparent and caring citizen becoming certified can help keep more of our children safe. If I can do it, you can.

Most people are not using car seats correctly or do not have them installed correctly and in the event of a crash, this can potentially be fatal. Most of it just so happens to be from not reading the directions or having your car seat checked. When you have your car seat checked the tech. should help you learn how to do it yourself and have you install it yourself so that it can be replicated over and over.  My own sitter had only one latch installed and was using a cargo hook instead of an approved anchor hook. She loves my children to pieces but she just did not know. Now the seat is in correctly but can you imagine if there had been an accident? From the tightness of the harness to where the harness clip is located on your child – it makes a difference.

There are people out there that think the whole car seat thing is a way to make money and that they survived without a car seat or seat belt and so did their 8 kids! They are lucky but tell that to a child who is now handicapped or the parent. It’s similar to what I hear daily about bleach or traditional laundry soaps and cleaners but that doesn’t mean using those products is the safest or healthiest options. To each their own but one should know that yes, the industry does make expensive seats with bells and whistles but this is not necessary to keep your children safe – the cheaper seat is just as safe if installed correctly using the car seat manufacturers recommendations and installation rules.

Resources:

Child seat recalls:

http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/recalls/childseat.cfm

http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/recallmonthlyreports.cfm

Keeping Kids Safe during crashes research and videos for each age and stage:

http://www.research.chop.edu/programs/carseat/

Booster seat laws, safety and why they are important:

http://www.research.chop.edu/programs/carseat/boosterseatvideos.php

Find a Certification Course or Tech. near you:

http://www.safekids.org/parents/

Why not? Great tips for free!

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