Baby Bits: Car Seat Safety

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It’s so important to stay up to date on car seat safety! Here’s what you need to know (plus where to double-check your seat’s installation).

CAR SEAT SAFETY Q&A WITH COURTNEY BARRY, CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY ADVOCATE FOR CHICCO USA

Whether you’re on a family road trip or headed to the post office, keeping baby safe and secure comes first. The first day you bring that ball of cuteness home with you, it’s all fun and games until you realize it’s your turn to seatbelt and hook the car seat in. Yikes! Fear no more! We spoke with a safety expert to give you some 4-1-1 on car seat safety. We even gathered up a list of places that offer free car seat safety inspections so you and you’re family will be ready to hit the road in no time.

Q: What are important car seat safety laws for parents to keep in mind when purchasing a car seat?
Federal law requires all children under age 4 to be properly secured in a child restraint system; children under the age of 8, unless they are taller than 4’ 9”.
While it is not a law in Ohio, many states now require children to ride rear-facing until at least age 2. Child passenger safety laws here require children under age 4 or 40 pounds to use a child safety seat and children younger than age 8 to use a booster seat as long as they’re shorter than 4’ 9” tall. In addition, children ages 8 – 15 are required to use either a child safety seat or a safety belt.

It’s recommended that children ride rear-facing as long as possible, until the height or weight limits of the car seat are maxed out, which is in line with the American Academy of Pediatric’s current recommendations.

Q: With all of the different car seats out there, the choices seem endless. How can a parent break down what car seat is best for them and their baby?

The best car seat is one that fits your child, vehicle and lifestyle. Depending on the size and age of your child, there are several different car seat paths that can be taken. Some parents may opt for an infant car seat then transition to a convertible car seat, which has rear- and forward-facing modes, while others may go directly to a convertible car seat in the rear-facing position when the baby is born. Newer car seat innovations allow children to ride rear-facing longer.

Q: Is it safe for my child to be rear-facing even if his legs look cramped?

If your child is big for his age or has particularly long legs, consider purchasing a car seat that offers extended leg room so you can keep him rear-facing as long as possible. In a 2018 study, Chicco found that many parents worry about their child’s legs touching the vehicle seat or looking cramped when they’re rear-facing. Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT a sign that your little one is ready to ride forward-facing. Staying rear-facing longer ensures your child’s head and neck are protected in the event of a collision, which is much more important than protecting their arms and legs. Kids are much more flexible compared to adults and although we might think they look uncomfortable with their legs crossed or against the seat, they’re just fine — and more importantly, they’re safe.

Q: How can parents be sure their car seat has not expired?

Most car seats last for at least six years, but expiration dates vary by manufacturer. The date is often printed on the seat itself, but if not, you can check the instruction manual or contact the manufacturer’s customer service department. Car seats expire for a few different, equally important reasons. First, over time, car seat technology improves and safety standards change. Additionally, materials used in car seats wear down with extended use, which can compromise safety features down the road. It’s also important to note that car seat manufacturers stop safety testing seats after a certain period of time, meaning that past expiration, manufacturers cannot guarantee how a car seat will perform in an accident.

Q: How can parents ensure their car seat is safe? How can parents be sure their car seat is safely installed in the car?

It’s always a good idea to have the car seat inspected at a car seat check. They are generally offered by police, fire stations and local hospitals. At a car seat check they will teach you how to install your car seat. Parents and caregivers should always follow the car seat manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation and use. We have seen so many advancements, such as LATCH and ReclineSure technologies and bubble level indicators, that make it easier to know whether your child’s car seat is properly secured and positioned in both the rear- and forward-facing positions.

Keeping baby safe before you hit the road is important. We rounded up a list of places that offer free car seat inspections to ensure baby is ready for the ride!

CAR SEAT INSPECTION STATIONS (Call for Appointment)

OHIO

AAA – HAMILTON
2870 Menards Blvd., Ste. #2
Fairfield Township | 513-863-3200

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP FIRE DEPARTMENT
6682 Princeton-Glendale Road
Liberty Township | 513-759-7530

DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP FIRE DEPARTMENT #57
3435 U.S. 22, Loveland
513-459-0875

BEAVERCREEK POLICE DEPARTMENT
1388 Research Park Drive, Beavercreek
937-426-1225

CINCINNATI CHILDREN’S
COMPREHENSIVE CHILDREN’S
INJURY CENTER
2800 Winslow Ave., Cincinnati
513-803-7433

FOREST PARK FIRE DEPARTMENT
1201 W. Kemper Road, Forest Park
513-595-5243

LEBANON POLICE DEPARTMENT
25 W. Silver St., Lebanon
513-932-2010

KENTUCKY

BURLINGTON FIRE DEPARTMENT
6050 Firehouse Drive, Burlington
859-586-6161

FLORENCE FIRE/EMS DEPARTMENT
FLORENCE FIRE/EMS HEADQUARTERS
CLAXON STATION
1152 Weaver Road
859-647-5660

CRESCENT SPRINGS/VILLA HILLS
FIRE & EMS
777 Overlook Drive, Crescent Springs
859-341-3840

FORT MITCHELL FIRE DEPARTMENT
2355 Dixie Hwy., Fort Mitchell
859-331-1267

LAKESIDE PARK/CRESTVIEW
HILLS POLICE
40 Towne Center Blvd., Crestview Hills
859-331-5368

COVINGTON POLICE DEPARTMENT
One Police Memorial Drive, Covington
859-292-2252

INDEPENDENCE FIRE DISTRICT 1
1980 Delaware Crossing, Independence

Amanda Hayward is editor of this publication. She is from Cincinnati, Ohio, a military wife and mom of two. If you don't see her writing for Cincinnati Family, you'll find her running, juggling kids, teaching group fitness classes and cooking up healthy recipes.

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