September is Baby Safety Month and the week of September 19-25 is Child Passenger Safety Week. As the mother of two young children, these topics are extremely important to me and of course, to millions of parents across the country. I’ll never forget the fear and anxiety that my husband and I felt as we left the hospital with our new baby in our arms, especially the first time. Like, now what? The responsibility is enormous and overwhelming at times so we both welcomed any advice and guidance we could get, to keep our precious little ones safe.
The ride home from the hospital, especially with our first child, was so anxiety-inducing, my husband gripping the steering wheel, white-knuckled, saying something about how we needed a police escort to get the baby home safely. I can laugh now looking back at that time but bringing a baby home for the first time was, for us, simultaneously the most joyful and stressful experience.
When it comes to choosing car seats, one of the most important ways that we keep our kids safe, there are a lot of things to consider. And then, once you’ve purchased your seat, you have to get it installed correctly. The first time around, we called on the assistance of our local fire department to confirm that the car seat was perfectly placed. But with the latest car seat we got (provided to us by Chicco), we were able to install the seat easily within minutes thanks to the easy-to-follow video instructions.
DID YOU KNOW? According to car seat brand Chicco, 42% of young children spend four or more hours in a car seat in a typical week.
Chicco recently conducted a survey (August, 2021) polling 1,004 U.S. parents of kids aged 8 and under and found that car seats rank among the top three purchases parents spend time researching. I can attest to that! I have spent hours upon hours researching the best, safest and most comfortable car seat options for my children, from the infant seats we would bring them home from the hospital in, to the forward-facing seats they graduated to as they grew bigger.
The survey also found that:
- 55% of parents do not know or are not sure what the ‘inch test’ is, a crucial check to ensure a child’s car seat is installed securely.
- Parents should avoid hand-me-down car seats if they can, but 34% of parents use an older sibling’s car seat, hand-me-down from a friend or family member, or purchase a used seat via site such as Facebook Marketplace. And 26% of parents didn’t know or were unsure if car seats expire.
To provide parents with helpful resources when it comes to proper car seat installation and safety, Josh Dilts, Child Passenger Safety Technician at Chicco, shares the following tips:
- Look for these elements when researching a car seat. When parents ranked baby products they spend the most time researching, car seats (49%) topped the list, underscoring the importance parents place on choosing the right car seat. Almost half of parents (47%) registered or purchased baby gear online in the past year, with car seats ranking as the #1 registry item. Many parents may not know where to start when it comes to car seats and Dilts advises parents to prioritize three features: ease of installation, child comfort, and child fit.
- Use easy at-home tests to ensure your child’s car seat is installed correctly. While parents may think they are taking all the right steps when it comes to car seat installation, 55% of parents do not know or are not sure what the ‘inch test’ is, a crucial check to insuring a child’s car seat is installed securely. To make sure the car seat is secured correctly within the vehicle, place both hands at the car seat installation belt path and pull side to side and front to back. If the car seat moves more than one inch in any direction, uninstall and start the process over. Always check your instruction manual or instruction videos for installation.
- Avoid hand-me-down car seats when you can. A surprising third (34%) of parents use an older sibling’s car seat, hand-me-down from a friend or family member, or purchase a used seat via sites such as Facebook Marketplace. And 26% of parents didn’t know or were unsure if car seats expire. While it’s not necessarily unsafe to re-use a car seat from a family member or friend, it is extremely important that you know the car seat’s history and check both the expiration date and outstanding recalls.
When our daughter turned two, my husband and I were excited to finally be able to turn her forward-facing. A forward-facing car seat is so much easier to get kids in and out of and her view improved dramatically, meaning less crying and fussing in the back seat. We chose the Chicco Fit4 Adapt 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat in ‘Ember’ and it’s been a dream. Olivia loves it and gets in without resistance (which I can’t say about her previous seat). And it’s worth mentioning again that the video instructions make installation super easy.