Saturday, 9 October 2010

How to harness your infant:

  • Read the entire child safety seat manual.
  • Your baby's head should be at least 2 inches (6 centimeters) below the top of the safety seat.
  • Infant-only seats are usually designed with a 3-point or 5-point harness. The harness should always be placed in the slots and should always be at or below your baby's shoulders. Most models have a chest clip that holds the harness straps together. Move the clip so the top of it is level with your baby's armpits.
  • All harness straps should fit snugly, especially over the shoulder and thigh areas. Straps should always lie flat, never twisted. If you can pinch any harness webbing between your fingers, it's too loose.
  • Dress your baby in clothes that keep his or her legs free. This will allow you to buckle the latch crotch strap properly between the legs. If it's cold outside, harness your baby first and then cover him or her with a blanket (never cover your baby's head). Never buckle a blanket under or behind the baby.
  • If your baby slouches to one side in the seat (common among newborns), place rolled-up cloth diapers or rolled hand towels on each side of the shoulders. There are supports specially designed for car seats, but only use them if they came manufactured with your safety seat. Never place any kind of padding or blanket under your baby — this can affect the harness's ability to restrain your little one.
  • If your baby's head flops forward (also common with newborns), check the angle of the seat. Use a towel or blanket to tilt the seat back slightly (a 30- to 45-degree angle is best).

How to Install an Infant-Only Seat

Prior to installing your baby's infant-only seat, read the product manual thoroughly. These tips can help with the installation:
  • An infant-only seat should be placed in the back seat, ideally in the middle of the back seat, but most important, in a position where it fits securely.
  • Read the owner's manual for your vehicle to find out how to use its seatbelts with a child safety seat.
  • Use your knee to push down on the seat as you tighten the car's seatbelt through the belt path. The car seat should not move more than 1 inch (3 centimeters) from side to side or forward and backward at the belt path. If the seat wiggles or moves on the belt path, the belt needs to be tighter.
  • Some seatbelts may require a special locking clip designed specifically to keep the belt from loosening. Locking clips are available from baby product stores, safety seat manufacturers, and some car dealerships.
  • Be sure to check the tightness of the safety seat before each use.
  • Never use an infant-only seat in a forward-facing position.
  • The car seat should recline at no more than a 45-degree angle.

Guidelines for Choosing a Safety Seat

  • Choose a seat with a label that states that it meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213.
  • Accept a used seat with caution. Never use a seat that's more than 6 years old or one that was in a crash (even if it looks OK, it could be structurally unsound). Avoid seats that are missing parts, are not labeled with the manufacture date and model number (you'll have no way to know about recalls), or do not come with an instruction manual. If you have any doubts about a seat's history, or if it is cracked or shows signs of wear and tear, don't use it.
  • If you accept a used seat, call the manufacturer to find out how long they recommend using the seat and if it was ever recalled. Recalls are quite common, and the manufacturer may be able to provide you with a replacement part or new model.

Importance of Child Safety Seats

Using a child safety seat (car seat) is the best protection you can give your child when traveling by car. Every state in the United States requires that an infant or small child be restrained — and with good reason. Child safety seats can reduce the risk of a potentially fatal injury substantially for babies in particular and also for toddlers. But many safety seats are used incorrectly.
When choosing any car seat, following some general guidelines will help ensure your child's safety. The best car seat is not always the most expensive one — it's the one that best fits a child's weight, size, and age, as well as your vehicle.
Once you select a seat, be sure to try it out, keeping in mind that store displays and illustrations might not show the correct usage. It's up to you to learn how to install a car safety seat properly and harness your child for the ride.
If you need help installing your safety seat or would like a technician to check whether you've installed it properly, the federal government has set up child seat inspection stations across the country.
Also, many local health departments, public safety groups, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, and fire departments have technicians or fitting stations to assist parents. (If you go to one of these locations, be sure to ask for a certified child child passenger safety technician to assist you.)


  • Are all walkways and outdoor stairways well lit?
  • Area all walkways clear of toys, objects, or anything blocking a clear path?
  • Are all sidewalks and outdoor stairways clear of concrete cracks or missing pieces?
  • Are all garbage cans securely covered?
  • Are all swing sets parts free from rust, splinters, and sharp edges?
  • Are all parts on swing sets or other outdoor equipment securely fastened?
  • Is the surface beneath the swing set soft enough (cushioned with material such as sand, mulch, wood chips, or approved rubber surfacing mats) to absorb the shock of a fall?
  • Are all outdoor toys put away in a secure, dry place when not in use?
  • Is there climb-proof fencing at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) high on all sides of the pool? Does the fence have a self-closing gate with a childproof lock?
  • Have all ladders been removed from an above-ground pool when not in use?

Other Safety Issues

  • Have you removed any potentially poisonous houseplants?
  • Have you instituted a no-smoking rule in your home to protect kids from environmental tobacco smoke?
  • Have you considered possible health risks from — and if indicated, tested for — lead, radon, asbestos, mercury, mold, and carbon monoxide?
  • If there are guns in the home, have they been placed in a locked cabinet with the key hidden and the ammunition locked separately?
  • Do you always supervise your child around pets, especially dogs?