Okay, I have seen lots of questions lately about car seats and their uses and such, so i'm going to try to cover as much as I can and if you have any questions about anything feel free to ask.
- You do not have to turn your child forward facing when they meet the "legal" limit of 1 and 20/22 pounds. Rear facing is much safer than forward facing for a young child. Statistics show that a child between the ages of 12 and 24 months is %500 safer if rear facing. Please consider laving your baby rear facing until at least 2.
- Always make sure that the chest clip is at arm pit level and you can't pinch any slack in the harness at the collar bone area.
- For a rear facing child, always make sure that the straps are coming from at or below their shoulders.
- A seat is outgrown rear facing when your child has reached the maximum allowed weight specified for rear facing or until the top of their head reaches within 1" of the top of the car seat shell ( check your manual, some car seats allow you to use within 1" of the top of the shell while others allow for you to use it to within 1" of the top of the adjustable headrest.)
- Every time you put your child in their seat, check to make sure that it is still properly installed into the car and hasn't become loose. There should be no more the 1" of movement, front to back or side to side. To check your install grab the seat at the belt path with your non dominant hand and give it a slight tug. ( I once drove around for an hour before realizing the my son's seat wasn't straped into the car ) It only takes a second to check and could potentially save your child's life.
- Never wash the harness of your child's seat in a washing machine or by submerging it into water. You can wipe it down with a baby wipe for the simple messes and for the more yucky messes you can use a little baking soda with a small amount of water and a soft bristled tooth brush. You may then rinse it off, but try your best not to saturate it, and then pat it dry with a towel.
- Never use anything on your car seat that didn't come with it. After market covers and such will void the manufactures warranty. They can also make it so that your child's seat doesn't fit them properly. For the winter time, the shower cap type cover for the infant seats can be used safely, as it doesn't interfere with the straps in any way.
- For a forward facing child always make sure that the straps come from at or above your child's shoulders. If the straps are below your forward facing child's shoulders in an accident they could have spinal compression and end up paralyzed from a broken back or worse.
- Some seats say that they will be the last seat you will ever have to buy for your child. Please don't be fooled. There are not too many seats that will safely get your child from birth until they are ready to ride in just a seat belt. Make sure that you double and triple check your manual. Just because your seat says that it can be used up to 100lbs., it doesn't mean that you can use the harness that long. If you use the harness over the specified weight limit, your child could be ejected in a crash.
- Most children are not developmentally ready for a high back booster until around 5 yr's old. You will know your child is ready for a booster when they can sit still 100% of the time. They can not put the shoulder strap behind them or lean out of it because they dropped something. The seat belt must also lay across their hips and not the soft part of their belly. And the shoulder portion of the belt needs to be centered on their shoulder, not too close to their neck and not falling off of their shoulder.
- Never have your child wear big puffy coats in their seat. Put your child in their regular clothes and then add a sweat shirt or a light weight fleece sweater. They can wear their big coat out to the vehicle, but remove it before putting them in their seat. A heavy coat can compress in an accident, leaving your child improperly restrained.
- Make sure that you know when your car seat was made and when it expires. Yep you read that right car seats do expire. After all they are mostly made out of plastic, we can't expect them to last forever. Most car seats expire in 6 years but there are some that last longer.
- Never use a seat that has previously been in any kind of accident. Just because the car seat held up well in the first crash doesn't mean it will a second time. Children aren't crash test dummies, please don't treat them that way.
- Never buy a used seat unless you know the person you are buying it from and know that they treat their seats properly and that they have never been in an accident. ( For example, you need to know that they have never washed the straps inappropriately, and that nothing has ever been altered on the seat in any way)
I'm sure there's a lot more but these are the main things that come to mind.