After #momlife-ing hard for the last seven years, I can say that one of the topics I’ve learned the most about is car seats. What brands aren’t great and what brands are. Where to place them in a vehicle and even the chest clip levels. I can easily say that this is a topic that brings out my mama bear and I always want to advocate for our children in this area. So many people (including myself) have gone wrong in this area and I want to share things that I’ve learned along the way to make it easier.
When Nolan was born I was really uneducated about car seats and just went with the one that I thought was the cutest. I had the little bear strap covers that I thought were great because they were soft and they would protect his neck from the rough straps. I was so wrong because those cute little strap covers caused the chest clip to only come up to his belly. There’s a a reason it’s called a chest clip y’all, here is the low down.
In a car crash, if the chest clip is at the correct height, it protects the child from being projected forward. If the chest clip is at stomach height, it can cause internal bleeding to their internal organs in the child’s abdomen region which is not protected by their ribcage. Now that I know this and have watched several videos and seen news stories about children being severely injured from the wrong placement of their chest clip, I am so particular about the chest clip being at the correct height.
The other thing that I wish I had researched was what type of car seat is appropriate for what age and when to turn them from rear facing. It’s important that children are using the correct car seat for their age because if not, this can cause them serious injuries or in extreme cases, death in car accidents.
From 0-2 years of age, children should be rear facing. Point blank, period, exclamation point! It is even recommended that children should rear face until the age of four! Many babies outgrow infant car seats before they turn two so a convertible or 3-in-1 car seat is needed to continue to rear face. I often hear “they are so happy now that I’ve turned their car seat around” but that’s not the point, would you rather your child be forward facing or alive and protected in a car accident? Children are five times safer in a car crash when rear facing then when they are forward facing. Their hip bones are not fully developed and their necks are more likely to be damaged when forward facing before they are supposed to.
From ages 2 to 7, children should be seated in a convertible car seat or 3-in-1. I have seen several children of people that I know sitting in booster seats at the age of three. Just because they meet the weight requirement, does NOT mean that they should sit in a booster seat for any reason. A child should only sit in a booster seat once they are able to pass the five step test.
1. Is their back against the vehicle?
2. Do their knees bend at the edge of the seat?
3. Is the seat belt setting low on the tops of the thighs?
4. Is the shoulder belt resting between their neck and their shoulder?
5. Are they sitting properly and not slouching or leaning over?
Moving a child to a booster seat gives them freedom that they’ve never had before: freedom to lean sideways, slouch, bother their sister, pick up a toy off the floor, and so on and so forth. If a child is wiggling out of position at the time of a crash, that leaves them vulnerable to serious injury. There is not a three-year old on the planet who is ready for the responsibility, despite the 3 year age minimum on many boosters. For the average child the maturity sinks in somewhere between 5 and 7. There are a lot of 8 year olds who still need reminders, too.
Ages 7 to 12 are recommended for booster seats. They still need support for their growing bodies. Just wearing a seat belt isn’t safe enough for them because seat belt placements are designed for ADULTS and not children. In a car crash, they can be projected or hurt by their seat belt and have internal and external injuries.
When we have a little in an infant stage, we use the Nuna Pipa infant seat because it comes with a leg stability base that makes it extra secure in your car. We also love the fact that it is SUPER light which comes in handy when running errands with all of the kids or toting groceries inside. It also connects into our Nuna stroller so having it has saved us money on buying more moving parts for our travel system.
Harper, Scarlet Reese and Mercy have Britax Boulevard click tight car seats. After years of trying to move non click tight car seats back and forth between vehicles I swore up and down I had enough! I love the click tight systems because you thread the seat belt under where their backs are in the car seat, pull it tight and push down on the back until it – you guessed it – clicks tight! It’s SO easy to correctly tighten their car seat and move them between vehicles, I no longer dread dealing with them. I recently moved Nolan into the Britax Highpoint Belt-Positioning booster seat. I waited until he passed the five step test before switching him from a five point harness to a booster seat. Even though he can buckle himself, I make sure to check his seat belt positioning before we get on the road.
With all of my littles in carseats and boosters, I’ve been strategic with where their carseats sit in my car. I drive a Chevrolet Suburban with a middle row instead of captains chairs. Knowing that our family would be growing over the next few years, I purchased this car with them in mind. As of right now: the back row is for Nolan and Harper to sit in with an extra seat in between them and the middle row has Mercy and Scarlet Reese with an extra seat for someone else to ride with us. When our new baby joins us Earthside, that babe will sit beside Scarlet Reese in an infant car seat like we discussed earlier.
If you have questions about the correct installment of your car seats, you can head to your local fire department where someone is car seat safety trained! I highly suggest doing so if you have any questions or if someone has sent you a message about the placement of your car seat and/or the straps. Also, I cannot stress enough how important it is to take advice from people who reach out to you about your car seat. If someone is sending you a message about your car seat not being installed correctly, your child being in an incorrect car seat, or the straps not being placed right, understand that they care enough to message you and you should know they wouldn’t bother you unless it was something important!
I hope I’ve answered all of your car seat questions, please message me if you have any more and I will answer them or find out from trained car seat specialists the correct answer!