Common Mistakes Parents Make When Using Their Convertible Car Seats
Parents buy a convertible car seat to make their lives easier and keep their children safe. However, parents often don’t know the right way to use this type of car seat. There are many common mistakes they make when using these seats that can put them and their child in danger. If you want to prevent your child from getting hurt or becoming sick, read on for some tips about what not to do with your convertible car seat.
Why we should use a convertible car seat?
Convertible car seats are similar to infant car seats, except that they can be used as a rear-facing infant seat for infants from 4 to 35 pounds or as a forward-facing child restraint from 22 to 65 pounds. These seats have higher height and weight limits than infant seats do. However, convertible seats also weigh more and require additional installation hardware than infant seats do.
When your child outgrows an infant car seat, the best option is to move them into a convertible car seat as soon as possible. Many parents are confused by this because they don’t understand how it will protect their children. The convertible car seat protects children in the rear-facing position, but it also gives protection to the child in the forward-facing position.
When infants riding rear-facing are involved in accidents, their heads move back against the seat. This creates a larger impact force that can injure or kill them. For this reason, convertible car seats provide added safety when children ride this way. You may be asking yourself “how can a forward-facing car seat protect my child?” It has to do with the way that children are best protected from accidents.
In 2000, researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that the safest way for children to ride is in a rear-facing position as long as they can fit into this position. Most convertible car seats are rated to accommodate children up to 40 pounds.
Convertible car seats can also be installed using lower anchors, which is an option that not all infant car seats have. When using this installation method, you don’t need any extra components to secure your seat in the vehicle. Lower anchors are made for children who weigh between 22 and 44 pounds and who are between 22 to 39 inches in height.
The reason that an infant car seat is only used front-facing for a short time is because of spinal compression. The headrests found in convertible car seats have been designed with small pieces of foam that give your child the best support when rear-facing. They can be adjusted as your child grows.
You may also see that some convertible car seats have an adjustable headrest. This allows you to move the height of the headrest up or down as your child grows. When children are properly secured into a rear-facing position, they should be able to sit back on their rear-facing convertible car seat and have their legs bend at the knee.
A lot of parents think that when their child outgrows an infant car seat, they are outgrowing convertible seats as well. This is not true because most children are ready for a forward-facing position around age 2 or 3. The majority of children are between 20 to 24 pounds by this time and at least 29 inches tall. However, some children may not be ready for a forward-facing position until they weigh 30 or 35 pounds and are 34 inches tall or more.
The best way to tell if your child is ready for a forward-facing seat is by checking the label on their convertible car seat that states when they should switch from rear-facing to forward-facing. This information will be found in the instruction manual that comes with your seat, but can also be found on the manufacturer’s website.
Common mistakes parents make when using their convertible car seats
The convertible car seat is considered the most important piece of equipment in a child’s safety arsenal, but it can be misused. The following are some common mistakes parents make, along with how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Not harnessing your child tightly enough into the car seat during use.
Dangers: If you don’t strap the baby or child into the car seat properly, they may be injured during an accident because they weren’t held securely in place by the harness. The same concept applies if you put their baby carrier on improperly or if they fall out of it while running errands, playing outside, or sitting on furniture around the house.
Solution: There are many ways to ensure you are harnessing your child properly. You should be able to fit no more than one or two fingers between their chest and the straps of the harness and adjust the shoulder straps so that they’re snug against their body. If a child is wearing bulky clothes underneath the harness, or if they’ve outgrown a seat, it can affect how tightly they’re strapped in – check with your manufacturer’s instructions for advice on how to correct this problem.
Mistake #2: Not removing your child from the car seat after every use.
Danger: A recent study found that 93 percent of convertible car seats have been contaminated with harmful germs due to a lack of proper cleaning after each use. In addition, allowing an infant or young child to spend long periods in their car seat without moving may lead to breathing problems, muscle stiffness, or even fatal blood clots.
Solution: When possible, remove your baby from the car seat after every use. Before you do so, make sure the harness is loosened and the top tether strap isn’t holding up any part of the carrier. You can wipe down plastic parts with a disinfectant wipe or soap and water solution, but be careful not to damage anything by using harsh chemicals. If your seats are leather, vinyl, or cloth, you should consider buying covers for them so they don’t have to be cleaned as often – just take them off before you put your child back into his or her seat.
Mistake #3: Over-relying on the safety of your car seat.
Dangers: Car seats may be safer than other options (such as child carriers or strollers), but they should not be considered a form of babysitting. You shouldn’t leave them in your vehicle when you’re not using them, and parents who rely on their convertible seats to keep their children safe for longer periods have been known to leave sleeping babies unattended in them so they can eat or take care of other needs. Many infant deaths have resulted from this lack of supervision, so if you absolutely must use your carrier while you complete a task, make sure someone is watching.
Solution: Using a car seat correctly means more than just strapping your baby in, buckling it up, and leaving. The entire trip should be supervised by an adult who is sitting properly in the front seat. It’s important to remember that if you leave a child alone or sleeping long enough for their body temperature to drop too low, they may stop breathing – never leave your kids unattended even while using a convertible car seat.
Mistake #4: Improperly install the actual seat into the vehicle.
Dangers: While many parents understand how to correctly install their convertible car seats when they first buy them, many others never learn “how” to use their seats correctly. While most models must be installed with either LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) or a seat belt, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that many seats are improperly installed or used with incorrect belts. If you’re not sure how to do it, look at your manufacturer’s instructions and watch these videos from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Solution: Many parents make mistakes when it comes to installing their car seats – but luckily, this is one of the easiest problems to fix! Just take a few minutes to read over you’re manual and check out some instructional videos on YouTube. Remember that while most owners think they’re using LATCH anchors correctly, they may not be comparing them side-by-side or using a lockable clip down on each end of the strap where possible.
Mistake #5: Placing the car seat in the incorrect position in the backseat.
Dangers: While placing a baby’s carrier too far forward can harm their airway, putting it too far to the side may not be a good idea either. According to a study published by researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, children placed in seats that were positioned less than twelve inches from the car door were three times more likely to suffer serious injuries during an accident. The closer they are to their parent, the more likely they will be able to reach out and grab something during a crash – which could result in broken arms or worse if they get tangled up in your vehicle’s safety equipment.
Solution: Make sure that your child is within twelve inches of the center point of your vehicle or twelve inches away from their door. This ensures that your child is near enough to you to prevent them from getting tangled up in safety equipment during an accident, but not so close that they’re vulnerable to injury during a crash if they’re able to reach out and grab something. Children placed directly behind front seats are twice as likely to be seriously injured than those placed in the backseat according to this study.
Mistake #6: Improperly using certain restraint systems.
Dangers: While most convertible car seats come with adjustable harnesses designed for infants (newborns), there are special restraints available for children who weigh more than thirty pounds. These booster seats may be used until forty pounds or more, depending on your model – but not if you misuse them! While the shoulder belt should go over the arm and across the torso (not the neck), the lap belt should always be placed firmly below the hips. If it’s placed too low, especially with a booster seat, injury to the groin or abdomen could occur during an accident.
Solution: Booster seats are commonly misunderstood by parents who don’t know how to use them correctly – read your instructions carefully for an illustration showing the proper installation. Some models may allow children to sit in car seats after forty pounds simply because they don’t have special weight restraints like their smaller counterparts do – so long as they fit properly in both restraints and follow all other rules of safety while riding.
Mistake #7: Taking the car seat out of the base when not in use.
Dangers: Many parents who drive their children around daily may think that it’s okay to keep their baby seats in their vehicles between trips – but this is a dangerous mistake! According to Safe Kids Worldwide, babies must be transported inside cars restrained by some kind of safety seat while riding in your vehicle, even if they’re being moved from one place to another. If you have a forward-facing child restraint, removing the seat from its base and carrying it will require you to install it correctly each time before driving away lest you risk hurting your baby with improper installation! Always buckle up any infant or toddler on every trip.
Solution: Make it a habit to take your baby’s safety seat in and out of your vehicle each time you use it – this will ensure that you’re using the correct installation every time. If you must transport your child by car more than twice a day, consider getting a second base for your convenience or purchasing an additional restraint system so both can remain in your vehicle while stowed away between trips.
What Should You Look for in a Convertible Car Seat?
Congratulations! You have just welcomed a new baby into the world. As you start shopping for your new bundle of joy, it’s easy to forget that there are even more things to buy. When it comes time to take your baby home from the hospital, are you ready with the appropriate car seat?
A convertible car seat is meant to be used rear-facing until your child is at least two years old, weighing 20 pounds, or sitting up on their own. Some people choose to keep their children rear-facing until they are three, but this may not always be an option depending on the size of your child. Do not use a forward-facing car seat beyond age four or until they reach 40 pounds in or 40″ tall (whichever comes first).
When you are looking for the appropriate convertible car seat, it’s important to consider what your child needs in terms of safety and support. Some children need more than others when it comes time for them to give up their infant carrier or convertible car seat. Always keep in mind that this transition should be made only when your child is developmentally ready for a forward-facing position. If they aren’t, don’t rush this process — not even if all of their friends are already facing forward!
It is also important to look at what kind of features make your baby comfortable and happy. For some babies, comfort does not matter very much; they will sleep through anything. But many infants enjoy having something to munch on, a place to lay their head, and a soft foam pad to snuggle with.
The following is a list of things you should consider when caring for your baby or toddler in their convertible car seat: Safety – When you are searching for the right convertible car seat, the product must be as safe as possible. It’s essential to make sure that this product has all of the appropriate safety standards and markings on it (such as those from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Always check these labels before buying any kind of infant carrier or convertible car seat; some may look like they have those seals, but many don’t! Comfort – As mentioned earlier, some infants and toddlers enjoy having something to chew on or something that molds to their bodies. Some parents like to put a rolled-up receiving blanket inside the car seat when they are using it in either direction, but you should always check with your pediatrician before doing this. Support – When shopping for convertible car seats, think about how much support your baby or toddler needs to feel safe and comfortable during each stage of growth. If your little one suffers from reflux (or any other condition that requires extra support), make sure you choose a convertible car seat with plenty of harnesses and padding around them.
Ease – You will want a convertible car seat that is easy for you to use, as many times as possible. Many models offer adjustable heights and angles, plus removable liners for easy washing.
In the end, there is no single perfect car seat for every child. To keep your baby as safe and comfortable as possible, you must find a convertible car seat that fits your budget and offers plenty of support. As long as you choose an appropriate model (and use it properly), your baby will be just fine even if they aren’t mobile yet!
How do I know if my convertible car seat is installed correctly?
The indicator handle on the seat should be lined up with the target line when installed correctly.
There are two ways to check that your convertible car seat is installed correctly in your vehicle:
On most models, you can lift or tilt back the cover on the shell of the car seat. You’ll find an indicator near where your baby’s head will rest. It’s usually a yellow T-shaped handle or arrowhead with a horizontal line running through it. Make sure this is lined up with a red guide on the side of the car seat so there is no more than 1 inch of movement between them when you push down or pull up on them at their midpoint, then slowly release it. If they’re not aligned, move the car seat as necessary. There may be a sticker with the words “Indicator Handle” or “LATCH Clip” on your car seat to help you find this handle.
On some models, there’s a second way to check that your convertible car seat is installed correctly in your vehicle: Look at your owner’s manual or installation guide for how much movement should occur if the car seat is installed correctly and use a level to determine if too much movement is occurring between the indicator line and the latch clip handles when you pull up gently on them, but not so hard that it lifts the weight of your baby from where he or she would sit. If there is more than 1 inch of movement contact Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician or your vehicle dealer to repair your child restraint system. If there is less than 1 inch of movement, the car seat should be installed correctly.
There may be other targets on your convertible car seat, but using these two ways will allow you to check that your child restraint system is installed correctly in your vehicle.
One more thing: The indicator handle on the top of the shell might not always be visible when it’s installed correctly.
If you think this applies to you go here for more information or contact Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician or your vehicle dealer.
Should I buy a used or new convertible car seat?
There are many factors to consider when buying a convertible car seat. Safety and quality should be a top priority, regardless of the price or if it is used. Here we will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of buying new versus used:
Benefits to buying new:
-A new baby requires a lot of stuff to help them get from helpless infant to independent toddler; car seats are no exception to this rule! Knowing that your child will be comfortable and safe in the car seat you choose is an important factor for many parents. You may feel like you can get away with purchasing a used car seat (cheaper) but keep in mind that child safety experts recommend using a convertible seat from birth age 2, or until the seat is outgrown. If you choose the wrong seat to use for an extended amount of time, you are putting your child at risk (even if it’s used).
-If you purchase a new car seat, there might be some value left on the seat. You can either sell or trade-in this seat once your child has grown too big for it and get some of your money back!
-Depending on the brand, it could come with free accessories, like a carrying case. This way you won’t have to spend any extra money here! Not all seats come with these added accessories so check first before purchasing.
Benefits to buying used:
-Used car seats are significantly cheaper than new ones because they’ve already served their purpose with the original buyer.
-Used car seats come packaged with a lot of things, like instruction manuals and manufacturer information. This is beneficial for those who need to know more about car seat laws or may not be as comfortable installing it themselves (or don’t have the time). It also comes packaged with all of the original accessories which you can use directly out of the box!
-You might find some rare and hard-to-find options on Craigslist and local Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade groups. Some parents even sell gently used seats on these sites specifically because they got a new one for free from their insurance company! This would be a great option if you couldn’t get one through your insurance at all but it’s still possible you could try this route to see if any are available. Just be sure that the seat has never been in a crash or recalled before.
Drawbacks to buying used:
-Used car seats do not come with an expiration date, unlike your medicine does. Parents need to check the manufacturer information when it comes to checking expirations but many people don’t know this step exists! When in doubt, throw it out and go buy a new one! If by chance you cannot find proof of manufacture on the label, choose not to use it no matter what cost savings may come along with it because you could be putting your child’s life at risk. This applies even more so if you’re buying a used car seat from a Craigslist seller that you have never met!
-The quality of the materials and safety measures may be different from what they were brand new. You cannot possibly know what kind of wear and tear a seat has been through just by looking at a photo online. Consider this when considering buying a used car seat!
-If you try to trade in or resell your used seat, many auto shops won’t take it. Most buyback programs will not accept seats that have been registered under someone else’s name either, so if you plan on using this method for getting rid of it, make sure there is no information linking it to any previous owners first!
There are many factors to consider when buying a convertible car seat! Knowing where to get one, what brands are best for your child’s needs, and how to install it safely are all important considerations parents should make when looking for seats. While even the best-used car seat may be safe for some smaller children, you never know if the previous owner had it installed correctly or was even using it at all before they gave it away. Always use common sense when deciding whether or not to purchase a used car seat and never take chances with your child’s safety.
-A useful tip would be to try out any and every seat in the store without buying first (if possible) because you will know exactly how much room is required in your vehicle and can see what kind of fit you’ll end up with. This is a very important step in the process of buying a used car seat!
-Car seats can be found on local classified sites such as Craigslist and Facebook buy/sell/trade groups. Keep in mind that most places won’t accept seats that have been previously registered with someone else’s name, so it wouldn’t hurt to check first if you decide to go this route.
-A helpful hint would be to check out your local Facebook buy/sell/trade group and Craigslist for possibilities because you might find rare and hard-to-find options at affordable prices. Just remember that many of these sellers may not know or care about how safe their product is or how well they were taken care of before disposal, so consider yourself warned! Always use your best judgment when it comes to your child’s safety.
-Many insurance companies are now giving out free car seats too! If you call, you may find that they could supply you with one for free or at a low cost. This is exactly what happened to me after I called about my baby girl, so it never hurts to check! The only downside is you might need to contact them well before your little one is due if this helps your situation because these offers usually come around after the baby has arrived. Your best bet would be to do some research beforehand and see if something like this might apply in your situation. It sure worked wonders for us!
No matter which route you end up choosing, always make sure the seat will fit in your vehicle properly and that it can be tightened snugly before you purchase. Even if the seat seems to fit okay, always try to take it for a test drive before buying! Also, remember that you should never use another car seat meant for children unless you are sure that it’s compatible with yours, so make sure you research which option will work best for your child!
How do I know if my child is too big for their current car seat?
There are many factors involved in making this decision. The following guide will help you decide whether your child is too tall, too heavy, or too old for their current convertible car seat/booster seat by addressing the most common myths and misconceptions surrounding these topics.
1) Myth 1: My child is two years old or taller, so they must be able to sit up on their own without any support because of the regulation that children under two need head support.
This regulation applies to rear-facing seats only. It does not apply to forward-facing seats or booster seats even if the manufacturer states it does therefore, do not make the mistake of thinking that because the seat is forward facing your child does not need head support.
2) Myth 2: My child has reached the weight limit so they must be ready to be without a harness.
The weight limits on most convertible car seats are very generous and often exceed the average maximum weight of an average five-year-old. It is unusual for any child to have grown out of their current vehicle seat /booster before they reach the maximum weight limit even if they are quite large for their age. In addition, although some of the seats on the market do have a height limit (which varies from manufacturer to manufacturer), none of them have a weight limit for their harnessed position. This means that your child does not necessarily need to reach the maximum height limit for this seat before moving into a booster seat with no harness.
Do not be misled by regulation labels and warnings that claim that children should only use the car seat /booster up until age five or 80 lbs as these are applied across all children regardless of size, build, or maturity level. The best way to determine if your child is ready for a booster seat with no harness is to remain observant of what factors regarding safety, comfort, and behavior you can monitor as discussed in myth 3 below.
3) Myth 3: My child is tall or heavy for their age, so they must be mature enough to move into a booster seat with no harness.
To determine if your child can use a convertible car seat /booster without the harness, you need to assess them individually. A height and weight label on a box do not tell you whether or not it is appropriate for your child. To ensure that they are safe and comfortable in the vehicle, there are many other factors you should take into consideration including how tall your child sits against the back of the vehicle seat while sitting in a forward-facing position, how well does he/she fit into the sides of the seat while sitting in a forward-facing position and also if there is adequate room between his/her shoulders and the vehicle seat while sitting in the forward-facing position. In addition, it is also helpful to determine if there is adequate room between his/her head and the top of the convertible car seat /booster as well as if their knees can bend comfortably at a 90-degree angle or greater. If your child does not fit any of these criteria then they are likely not ready for booster mode even though they may have reached the height or weight limit on their current car seat.
4) Myth 4: My child’s feet reach the floor so he/she must be tall enough to use a booster without a harness.
The fact that your child can place both feet flat against the floorboards does not mean they are ready for booster mode in the vehicle. As discussed in myth 3, there are other factors to consider in terms of your child’s safety and comfort that need to be evaluated before you move them into a booster seat without a harness.
5) Myth 5: I can’t use my convertible car seat /booster until they are 4 years old because it says so on the label.
While most manufacturers’ labels suggest rear-facing for children under two years old or less than 20 lbs, this is not universally true. It is important to carefully read the instructions included with your seat to make sure you are using them correctly. This usually involves many factors including height, weight, and some seats have height limits for their rear-facing mode also the age of the child.
6) Myth 6: My child is large enough to use a booster with a harness in the vehicle.
Some parents also believe that safety concerns associated with their larger children’s safety restraints in the vehicle are solved by strapping them into a small harnessed car seat /booster. Since these seats have weight limits, if your child weighs over this amount, they will be secured into a much smaller space than appropriate for their size which can cause discomfort and lack of safety. In addition, because children’s bones grow at different rates from one another, you should never just go by age when considering whether or not to move from a convertible car seat /booster without a harness. Instead, you should continue to your child and determine once again if they fit into the back of your vehicle seat with their backs flat against the vehicle’s seat back and if there is room for them to sit comfortably in this position without touching the sides of the car seat /booster. To gain a better understanding of how your child fits, be sure to read myth 3 above.
It’s not always easy to be a parent. You have to juggle your day-to-day life, the needs of your children, and their safety when they are in the car with you. This can lead some parents to make mistakes that could put their kids at risk while riding in a convertible seat. In this article, we covered what these common mistakes might be, how to avoid them, and why it matters so much for your child’s safety if you do make one of these errors. We hope this helps! Let us know if there is anything else we can answer about convertible seats or if you need help finding which kind will work best for your family by contacting our team today!