Rules for Baby Car Seats
There's a lot to learn about baby car seats if you're a first-time parent, and for the sake of your baby, you must take the time to read about baby car seat essentials. Here are a few rules to live by when using them.
First, not using a baby car seat is out of the question. It's against the law not to have one when you're taking your baby along for a ride, and the hospital won't even allow you to bring your infant home if you don't have one installed in your car.
The safest position for babies riding in baby car seats is a rear-facing position because it protects them from spinal cord and head injuries in case of vehicular accidents. Most starter baby car seats can fit babies who are up to 26 inches long and weighing up to 20 pounds.
There are some that are lightweight and portable, and most high-end models have detachable bases. Before buying the bulkier and more expensive models of baby car seats, make sure that they fit your vehicle. It's impractical to buy a huge one that would force you to move the front passenger seat nearer the dashboard and make you feel cramped.
Baby car seats have either 3-point or 5-point harnesses, and some have quick-release buckles so you won't have to grapple with straps when you're in a rush. Don't risk using infant-only baby car seats for babies who have outgrown them. If you ignore the height and weight limits for the product, your baby won't be adequately protected in case of an accident.
If a toddler is too heavy, for instance, harnesses of baby car seats can pull through them. If he or she is too tall, the head would no longer have adequate impact protection. For babies a year old or more, forward-facing baby car seats are used. These still have the 3- or 5-point harnesses, and a shield.
One very important thing that most parents overlook is reading the manual. Baby car seats are not to be hurriedly installed, because there is a lot of items you need to know about them, and one missed instruction makes all the difference in safety.
You would have to know things like which recline angle to use, where to situate the harness height adjuster, or how much of the baby car seat's base should rest on the vehicle's seat. If you have misplaced the manual, request for a new one from the manufacturer or search for a copy on the Internet.
Don't be tempted to buy baby car seats that tout all sorts of accessories. The fact is federal manufacturing standards apply only to the basic unit and the latches, not the add-ons. All other accessories for baby car seats, such as toy bars or neck rolls, are not necessary and are best done away with.
One practical rule is to ask other parents about their experiences with their own baby car seats. If someone mentions a particular brand that has satisfied them on all points, then that's definitely worth trying out.