Tall Mom tiny baby: Car Seat Safety

Car Seat Safety

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I, along with many parents, am a bit clueless when it comes to car seat safety. I wondered: What's the big difference between a bucket seat and a convertible car seat? Why can't babies wear coats in their car seat? When should we turn him around from rear facing to forward facing?

Plus, another hundred questions or so.
So Tall Dad and I interviewed an expert, Dina Morrissey, who knows all of the ins-and-outs of car seat safety.  You can listen to our interview right here, on ParentCast
I wish I had paid more attention to car seat safety when I was pregnant, and preparing for our tiny baby. Honestly. Even though we read the manual, and watched Youtube installation videos, Tall Dad and I really should have gotten our car seat installed or checked by a professional.  Plus, we should have had our maternity wing nurses help us put Itty Bitty into his car seat. 

Our first problem was that we installed our baby's car seat in the middle of our back seat via the latch system.  If you car has six latch hooks, then you are in the clear.  A few cars have only four latch hooks, but the distance between each hook is 11 inches.  

Many cars, like mine, had only latch hooks for the two side seats.  When I installed my car seat, we borrowed the two inmost latches, which is technically unsafe because it is over 11 inches wide. 
Picture courtesy of The Car Seat Lady
This is a major no-no.

We also placed our newborn into his car seat incorrectly, and put his legs and arms in the same hole.  How is this even possible? Beats me, but Tall Dad and I were exhausted after giving birth to our son, and we didn't even notice that he wasn't in his seat correctly. Well, I'm not sure how valid an excuse that is because...

We didn't notice for a month.

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit these faults.  Lord knows we did other things that are technically unsafe. We had those plastic window shades that go up and down. Now we have the safe static cling ones. We also used a newborn pillow insert to help keep his head straight in the car...but come to find out - those aren't safety tested either. 

We learned that all toys and belongings in a car can become projectiles during a crash, and that any extra bells or whistles that were not part of the original car seat, are not recommended. 

Our family is incredibly fortunate to not have found out these lessons the hard way. 

The Rhode Island Hospital's Injury Prevention Center has a calendar of FREE car seat safety checks.  Just click here for more information, and try to swing by one this spring.  If three out of four car seats are improperly installed, yours might be one of them, and you'd rather be safe than sorry.

And don't forget to listen to our Car Seat Safety episode on ParentCast

Have you ever gotten your car seat checked?


  1. My husband put the seat in the car before we left for the hospital. Meaning...he just put in the in the backseat because my water broke and we had to get a move on. ha. So we had the valet at W&I install it and had it checked at the police station when we had to remove it and put it back one time. My biggest thing now that Benjamin is 3 is him in car seats with winter coats on. I am crazed about him not being put in there with a puffy coat, but I battle the grandparents over it on a regular basis. "he'll be cold!" "how is he not safe, the straps are tight!" "i never heard of this!" And on and on. But I hold my ground!!!

    1. Melissa, I totally get the problem with the cold! My parents are the same way. We actually just got Rhys a fleece poncho, which seems to have solved the immediate problem :) I got it from a local RI company called Wrapeaze - and it's something that I put on him before I leave the house, and he can keep it on in the car seat. I just lift up the back so I can buckle him in under the poncho. Hope this helps!!

  2. Such an important message!!! I still see a lot of people with their car seats in the middle. So nice to know there are local resources who can make sure you have your seats installed properly. I can't even imagine how I would feel if my negligence (or ignorance) when it came to car seats resulted in my child getting hurt. (and who knew about toys being projectiles?! So good to know!)

    1. Some cars have the latches for the middle seats, but I was told mine didn't. I agree - most people just think it's the right place to place the baby!

      I had no idea about the projectiles either. So scary indeed!

  3. This is so important. You never know when something my happen. My 7-year is still in a booster!

  4. Car seat must be as safe as possible for kids, especially for infants. Thanks for this nice post!