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Baby sitting in car seat, ready to go for a ride!

Car Seat Safety Checklist

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Anne Shewan
Published Date: Monday, December 13, 2021

By Dr. Anne Shewan, Town Center Pediatrics

As the holiday season gears up, many families will be heading out of town to visit loved ones near and far. If any of your children use a car seat, follow these tips for car seat safety do’s and don’ts before you pull out of the driveway.

Car Seat Safety Do’s:

  • Read all car seat labels carefully to ensure the seat matches your child’s height and weight. Read more about selecting the appropriate car seat for your child here.
  • Make sure harness straps are smooth, flat, and fit snugly against your child’s body.
  • Avoid bulky clothing such as heavy winter coats. Bulky layers allow too much slack and movement and can compress in a crash, making your child less secure.
  • Keep your rear-facing infant seat in the back seat of your car and away from airbags.
  • Keep toys tucked away as they may become hazardous in a crash.
  • Keep the car seat manufacturer’s installation guide and owner’s manual with the car seat.
  • Complete and return the registration and warranty for your car seat in case of a future recall.
  • Have your car seat inspected before your child’s first ride. Many fire departments will do this for free.

Car Seat Safety Don’ts:

  • Never put a rear-facing infant seat forward-facing in the back seat of your car.
  • Don’t place a child safety seat in the front of a grocery cart. Grocery carts do not have a secure locking system for infant seats, which increases the likelihood of them falling off the cart, potentially resulting in serious injury.
  • Avoid using your child’s car seat as a crib. For the safest sleep and to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, always place your child on their back on a firm, flat surface to sleep.
  • Don’t leave your child’s car seat on elevated or soft surfaces like a bed, couch, countertop, or table. A baby’s movement could cause the seat to fall from an elevated surface. On soft surfaces, the incline of the seat could cause the baby’s head to tip forward or the whole seat to roll over, which may result in suffocation.
  • Don’t loosen your child’s harness or undo any buckles when the car is in motion or when moving the car seat to and from the car. Babies tend to wiggle and squirm and could get hurt if unsecured.
  • Never use a car seat if you don’t know its history, if parts are missing, or it has been in an accident.

Using your child’s car seat correctly can reduce the risk of death by up to 71 percent. Make sure your child’s car seat is installed properly. If you’re not sure if your child’s car seat is safely installed, refer to the manufacturer’s installation instructions or visit a child passenger safety seat inspection station. Find one near you here.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.