You and your baby will go on a lot of adventures together, many of which will be on four wheels. If you’re just getting the hang of how to use a car seat, we’ve got some answers to the most common car seat questions—and a few extra tips to boot.
Q: Why can't I put my baby's car seat in the front of the car?
A: Because car seats and air bags don’t mix. The passenger-side airbag is designed to help protect adults riding in this seat, but if one is released (even in a low-impact crash), the force of the airbag opening can cause serious head and neck injuries to your little one. The safest place for a baby or young child is in the back seat.
Q: How do I know if the seat belt fits my child correctly?
A: We’re used to thinking that belts belong around the waist, but such is not the case in a car seat. Make sure the lap belt fits snugly across your child’s hips, not belly. The shoulder harness should rest on your child’s shoulders, not on their arm, under arm, necks or throats.
Q: How do I know the seat has been properly secured?
A: If the seat can slide, it’s not ready to ride. Your child’s car seat shouldn’t be able to slide more than 2 cm in any direction. If your car is newer than 2002, it should be equipped with the Universal Anchorage System (UAS). Using these anchors may be easier to install the car seat than using a seat belt to secure it.
Never leave your child alone in or near a car.
Even if you’re only running into the store for a second, always keep your little one with you (it’s more fun to show them off anyway).
Bonus tip #1: beware of items in the back seat.
If you haven’t learned yet, infants have a tendency to put anything and everything in their mouth. Plus any loose items in the backseat can become projectiles during even the slightest fender bender.
Bonus tip #2: set a good example and always wear your seat belt.
Baby see baby do. If you go for a ride unbuckled, they’ll eventually think they can, too. Let them know from an early age that it’s non-negotiable.