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Keep Your Little One Safe in the Car With These Car Seat Safety Tips + Giveaway!

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I was not provided with any compensation for this post. I did however receive some safety tips from Safety 1st to share with all of you.

Being a parent is a hard job. You’re always being judged by others on the decisions you make regarding your kids, wondering if you’re raising them the right way, and worrying about their best interest. I know this because as a mom I have faced my fair share of stress over the years, but there is one area where all of us parents can come together and agree on and that’s keeping our kids safe is a main priority. Did you know car crashes are a leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old and many times deaths and injuries can be prevented by proper use of car seats, boosters, and seat belts? Child safety is a big issue and September just happens to be child safety month, with Sept 15-21 being Child Passenger Safety Week. The one thing about child passenger safety is that everyone should be following the same set of guidelines/rules to keep their kids safe in the car and in this post I’ll be sharing some tips on how you can do that.

I’m thankful that when I had my son I was given the opportunity to take a car seat safety class and learn how to properly install and use one, but the class only covered the basics of buckling in the car seat and buckling in your child to the seat. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes over the years when it comes to car seats and it’s because I didn’t have anyone telling me the proper things to do and sadly that is what happens with most parents, they just don’t know. Reading your car seat manual is a big must do. I know all of the information can be a little overwhelming, but each car seat has different functions, height and weight limits, and the manual offers a lot of information on properly using the seat and keeping the kids safe. Another great resource to use is speaking with a Child Passenger Safety Technician or CPST. They will show you how to properly use your car seat, install it for you, and give you tips on keeping your kids safe in the car all free of charge. You can use this tech locator to find one near you and some hospitals and fire departments even have one on staff.

right car seat?

Car Seat Safety Tips From Julie Vallese, Safety 1st Consumer Safety Expert.

Importance of Rear Facing

In March of 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their car seat recommendations advising that children should remain rear facing until the age of two, or until they reach the maximum height and weight requirements allowed by their car seat. According to a study in the Journal of Injury Prevention children under the age of two are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in the event of a car crash if they are rear facing. When a child is rear facing their head, neck and spine are better supported and in the event of an accident, crash forces are distributed over the child’s entire body.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, 75% of car seats are installed incorrectly.  Every car and car seat has different requirements for the safest installation so before you get started it is important to read both the car seat and car manual.

Typically the center rear seat is the safest place for a car seat, and never install a car seat in the front seat.  If your car does not have a latch connector for the middle seat, you can use the middle seat belt to properly secure the base.  When installing, make sure the base of the car seat moves no more than an inch from side to side. An easy way to test this is to hold at the belt path.

New parents and grandparents are encouraged to attend a car seat check before the baby is born.  However, don’t just rely on the experts. You’re likely going to be taking the car seat out and installing it somewhere else at some point, so make sure you’re comfortable with the process too.

Car Seat Expiration

Never use used or old car seats.  Car seats do have an expiration date and it is to understand the risks associated with using an expired or old car seat.  The reason for an expiration date is because plastic can warp and materials can fray, which can make car seats less safe to use.  Car seat technology and state and federal car seat regulations change.  A car seat deemed safe more than six years ago may no longer meet federal testing regulations.  Important warning labels may wear out and instruction books may get lost, which can lead to improper use of the car seat.

Now for some things I’ve learned over the years.

After market products should NOT be used – When we had our daughter she was pretty tiny and we noticed the straps were cutting into her neck, so we went out and bought some soft, plushy strap covers for her. I didn’t know at the time, but unless those strap covers come with the car seat they aren’t safe to use. The same goes with the head inserts and anything you attach to the inside of the seat. Since they aren’t tested with the car seat and they can alter the strap position and should never be used. Luckily many car seats come with those strap covers and head inserts now and since they come with the seat they’re safe to use!

Always get rid of your car seat after an accident – If you’re in a car accident your car seat needs to be replaced. Even though you might not see any damage to the seat there could be internal damage that you might not know about and that could cause harm in another accident. Insurance companies are required to replace your car seat after an accident and while most of them are good about doing so, some like to act like they have no idea what you’re talking about and try to get out of it. Regardless, if you’re in a car accident that meets the NHTSA’s requirements for replacement, you’re car insurance needs to reimburse you for a new one.

Purchasing a used car seat is bad – Car Seats can get to be pricey and we all want to save a few $$, but buying a car seat used isn’t a good idea. You have no way of telling if the seat has been in an accident, what it’s been through, or how old it is. Spend the extra money and buy something new that you know is safe.

Don’t wash the car seat straps – This is another thing I’m guilty of. From my kids throwing up to spilling food all over their car seats, I have washed the straps before and I just recently learned that they should never be washed. This can warp the straps and cause them to be unsafe. If your little one makes a mess on the straps use a wipe or slightly damp wash cloth to clean up any mess. If that doesn’t get them clean then you need to contact your car seat manufacturer and ask for replacement straps. (most of them will send free replacement straps)

Harness Strap position – When a child is Rear Facing the harness straps should be coming out AT or BELOW shoulder level and for Forward Facing seats the harness straps need to be positioned AT or ABOVE the shoulder level.

Harness straps should fit snugly The easiest way to check to see if your harness straps are too loose is the pinch test. Secure your child in the car seat and buckle the harness as usual. Using your thumb and pointer finger, try to pinch one of the harness straps at your child’s collarbone level. If you’re able to pinch the strap, the harness is not tight enough. You should not be able to pinch any excess.

Chest clip should always be at armpit level – The chest clip should always be level with the armpits of your child and it shouldn’t be down by the stomach or crotch clip. If you keep it level with the armpits then you’re good to go!

In the market for a new seat? Safety 1st has some great options:

Safety 1st Elite 80 3-in-1 car seat – The Elite 80 works in rear-facing mode for babies up to 40 pounds, then converts to forward-facing with harness, but features an extended weight range to keep children safely in harness all the way to 80 pounds.  In its 3rd mode, the Elite 80 goes beyond the traditional convertible seat to convert into a belt-positioning booster car seat for children up to 100 pounds.  Additionally Air Protect + combines the advanced protection of our Air Protect® cushion system with patented GCell HX™ foam designed with hexagonal shapes for 100% full body production.

Safety 1st Advance 70 Air+ This convertible car seat was inspired by race car drivers. Air Protect+ combines Safety 1st Air Protect® Technology with GCell HX™ – hexagonal rebounding foam used in the body of the car seat to protect the child from the multiple hits that occur in crashes. Coupled with this is the placement of Air Protect® Technology which takes crash forces away from a child’s head.  This technology was developed in partnership with racecar engineers at Bald Spot Sports and INDY Car Driver Scott Dixon to better understand the energy dynamics a high performance driver faces in the event of a crash.

Safety 1st BoostAPak Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat – The BoostAPak is designed to help keep kids in boosters longer, as it’s often hard to get an older child to stay in his or her booster seat. This booster seat also doubles as a backpack!  For children 4 to 7 years old, booster seats reduce injury risk by 59% compared to seat belts alone. (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia).  Additionally, the AAP recommends children ride in boosters until the age of 12 or 57 inches; but only 13% of children 54-56 inches tall ride on one (NHTSA)

Watch this informational video for more safety tips!

safety 1st car seats


In honor of Child Passenger Safety Week Safety 1st is giving away a car seat to 1 winner. (Winner’s Choice) To enter fill out the rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday 27th of September 2013

Don't use after market products

Nicole M

Friday 27th of September 2013

that they put foam inside them. for some reason, I never realized that.

angela cisco

Friday 27th of September 2013

I learned that you were not suppose to use items such as head cushions and strap covers.

Francine Anchondo

Friday 27th of September 2013

Car seats do have an expiration date

Mihaela Day

Friday 27th of September 2013

I learned that the chest clip should always be at armpit level :)

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