While car seats are far from the norm in many parts of Asia, we think this is one of the first things you should invest in when you find out you’re pregnant.
Buy It New
You would have heard it time and time again – Buy a new car seat. If you take only one piece of advice on this list, this should be it.
There are always good deals available, and a cheap car seat is still better than a used car seat or none at all. There are a number of reasons for why we’re adamant about this.
Firstly, you do have to keep an eye on recall lists for most baby products that need to be structurally sound. Every year a number of car seats get recalled for either design flaws or not meeting updated safety requirements.
Buying a new seat ensures that you’re not likely to run into a recall issue you weren’t aware of prior to purchase.
Secondly, all car seats have an expiration date. This is because the integrity of the plastic wears out after a while. For a well-made seat, this usually occurs at the 10-year mark. Either way, an expiration date is always clearly marked on every seat.
Finally, you don’t know if the person you’re buying it from is being honest about what the seat has been through. And we’re not just talking about the inexplicable quantity of bodily fluids a small child can produce, either.
If you have been involved in an accident, no matter how minor, your car seat needs to be replaced. This is due to the fact that any impact has the potential to weaken the structural integrity of the seat, causing it to lose its effectiveness.
The correct procedure is to destroy the old car seat, but many people don’t do this.
Trust us, the money you save will not make you feel better if anything happens to your child because you chose to be cheap about it.
Each car seat is different, and the weight they can carry differs accordingly. This is true of each brand, model, and whether it’s being used front or rear facing.
It’s essential to note that the weight limit includes the weight of the car for quite a few models, so make sure you check this out.
As a general rule, you should keep your child in the rear-facing position for as long as the weight requirements will allow (or at least until they are two). It’s by far safer. Truthfully, however, this can sometimes prove difficult.
If your child is fussy and/or a busybody, wanting to be an involved backseat driver, don’t beat yourself up about it. As long as you’ve successfully wrestled them into a car seat, we’re calling it a win!
Keep the seat clean.
There are dedicated cleaners you can use to spray and wipe down the seat regularly, and most models have machine-washable fabric, as well.
Further, it’s not recommended to overload the car seat with loose or attached toys and gadgets simply because they can act as an additional source of injury in an accident. You wouldn’t want a projectile sippy cup hitting you over the head to add insult to injury.
Installing Your Seat and Child
Some days it feels like a miracle that you got that getting-progressively-heavier struggling mass into the seat at all. It really is a special little workout for your body and negotiation skills.
On the whole, installing the seat itself is a process akin to rocket science, so find one that works with what’s in your car. If you have an older car model, it may not have all the attachment points required for newer car seats. You just need to make sure those bits are optional and not essential to the safety of that particular seat.
Once installed, the seat shouldn’t be able to move more than an inch or two when you your all your strength to tug it around. This just ensures your child avoids as much injury as possible in the event of a crash.
When you’re strapping the little one in, the aim is to make sure they can’t squirm out of it without cutting off their circulation. It’s quite a tough one when you first start out. We’ve found that the easiest way to figure out if it’s tight enough is the ‘pinch test’.
Basically, if you try to pinch the belt at your child’s shoulders, you shouldn’t be able to (of course, if your child has started turning blue, you should probably loosen it slightly).
If you live in a country where temperatures vary, don’t buckle your child in with an additional blanket. It will create too much of a gap between the belt and your child’s body to keep them safe. Instead, buckle them in and then pop whatever you need to over it.
At around four, you’ll be looking into transitioning your child into a booster seat. These days, many models come with booster seats in-built so you can just detached the main top frame.
And with that, we wish you the best of luck with the exorcism-like ritual of buckling an unwilling toddler into their seat. Good luck and godspeed! – The Binge