Did you know as many as 4 out of every 5 child car seats aren't installed correctly?
It's a terrifying statistic, especially when you consider just how precious your cargo is and what could happen in the event of an accident.
Getting your child's car seat installed by a professional is highly recommended, as the process is often not as simple as it looks. If you are going it alone, when completed, your car seat should feel like it is a part of your car and as secure as the seats already in it.
Here are some of our best tips on making sure you and your car are ready for your new baby's arrival.
1. Choose the right car seat
With almost limitless types, sizes and fittings, choosing the right car seat is no easy task!
Our recommendation for newborns is to look for seats suitable for the 0-4 years age bracket, as it will give your growing baby the support it needs through this period, which also makes it the most economical choice too.
Also, make sure that whichever seat you do choose meets the appropriate Australian Safety Standard AS/NZS 1754.
2. Have your car seat installed 2-3 weeks before your baby is due.
We probably don't need to tell you your baby may not have the same ideas as you about its birthday!
By planning your car seat install with time to spare, you'll avoid a potentially rushed, last-minute install if your new arrival does choose to make an early entrance!
3. Get your car seat installed or checked by a professional
If you're reusing a seat from a sibling or other family member and installing it yourself, have a trained and accredited professional check it for you before your baby's arrival.
By choosing a professional, you'll get the right advice on installing your car seat safely and properly.
4. Check your car seat daily
Frequent checks of your child's car seat are vital. Look for worn or twisted straps, ensure the straps are securely attached to the car's fittings (and not just held in by the car's seat belt).
And of course, check that the latching mechanism of the restraint works properly.
5. When travelling, secure loose items
You're loading the shopping into the car, the baby's crying, the dog definitely needs a bath, parenting can certainly test you.
But in the event of an accident, any unsecured items in your car can become a life-threatening missile, so ensure your shopping bags are stowed out of harm's way and pets are safely secured using an appropriate harness, before setting out.
6. Use an aftermarket car seat protector
Even though your new child car seat may come with a seat protector, we recommend sourcing your own ideally made from either silicone or rubber.
They are more hardwearing, easier to clean and will protect the fabric of your car seats better, while also providing more grip and stability for the installed car seat itself.
We recommend this Britax Vehicle Seat Protector.
7. Install a headrest mount mirror
When your baby is in a rearward-facing position, mounting a head-rest mirror to the rear seat allows you to keep a constant connection and watchful eye on your baby while travelling.
A quality mirror can be purchased for around $20-30 and we'd recommend avoiding cheaper items than this as they may not provide a clear enough view.
About My Little Friends
My Little Friends is an all-female mobile car seat installation service covering the Brisbane area. Our team are professionally trained and licensed to install child restraints, holding both a Blue Card and Police Check, so you know you are in the very best hands.
This article also appeared on Kiddiepedia in July 2021.