The long-awaited Royal Baby made his debut on Monday, July 22, 2013. The new baby, named George Alexander Louis, and his parents, William and Kate, left the hospital Tuesday, July 23, 2013. The baby was seen in a car seat carried by Prince William, and placed in the car.
However, the picture that the Daily Mail posted showed the baby swaddled in a blanket and then placed in the car seat with the harness over the swaddled boy. Now, the royal parents may have adjusted the car seat straps and removed the blanket before driving off; however, knowing how to correctly fasten a baby in a car seat is always a good reminder for all parents – royal or not.
Safety First when Using a Car Seat
Correctly strapping a baby or a child into a car seat is vital to the safety of the child. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are the number one killer of children ages one through 12 in the United States. You should always read the car seat manual to properly install and harness your child into the car seat, as each car seat can be a bit different.
Rear facing car seats are for infants, and the brand will give the weight and height range with which the car seat can be safely used. Rear facing car seats are generally a five-point harness that goes over both shoulders and across both hips, with one strap between the legs. The harness straps must be threaded through the slots at or below the baby’s shoulders. These straps should lay flat and not be twisted, and the chest strap should be at arm pit level. The harness should be tight enough that you cannot pinch any extra material at the baby’s shoulders.
The same goes for forward facing car seats; however, it is important to note that many forward facing car seats will be installed differently than a rear facing car seat, so please read the owner’s manual to properly install the car seat.
Common Baby Seat Mistakes
Harnessing your baby or child into a car seat takes practice to get it right. According to the Mayo Clinic, here are some of the more common mistakes parents make when installing or harnessing their child in a car seat.
- Swaddling the baby or putting a coat on the baby before harnessing him or her in the car seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states, “Bulky clothing or blankets can prevent a snug harness fit. Always buckle the baby in the seat first, and then place coats or blankets over the harness.”
- Where you put the car seat is just as important, as air bags can cause serious injury to a baby or child. The safest place for a car seat is in the middle back seat, away from doors and air bags.
- If you are considering buying a used car seat, make sure you know its history; make sure it’s no more than six years old (look for the manufacture date), has all parts and owner’s manual, is not damaged, has never been in an accident, and hasn’t been recalled. If you don’t know the answers to all these questions, don’t use it.
- It is important to keep your child in a rear facing seat until the age of two, or at until the child reaches 35 pounds. Check the owner’s manual of the forward facing car seat to determine if your child meets the requirements.
Car Seat Resources for Parents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, three out of four car seats are not used correctly! However, there are certified technicians that can make sure your car seat is correctly installed. These car seat inspection stations may be a your local fire department, hospital, or health department. To find one nearest you, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides a list of inspection sites.
Daily Mail. Baby’s first throne! The simple £80 car seat that carried the future king home. (July 23, 2013). Accessed July 25, 2013.
Mayo Clinic. Car Seat Safety: Avoid 10 Common Mistakes. (2011). Accessed July 25, 2013.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator. Accessed July 25, 2013.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.Child Safety. Accessed July 25, 2013.