While infant car seats certainly serve their purpose in keeping children safe and making transporting young babies to and from the car convenient and easy when they’re used properly, too often they’re used incorrectly and in ways they really weren’t designed for.
When it comes to using your child’s infant car seat, be sure you’re not doing one of these 5 things.
- Using it as a routine sleep space. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using infant car seats for routine sleep. Due to their positioning, an infant’s airway can become narrowed in a car seat, which can result in breathing problems. This can result in death. If your baby falls asleep in his car seat, move him to a firm, flat service as soon as possible.
- Putting it in a grocery shopping cart. Shopping carts aren’t designed for infant car seats to be latched onto. In fact, babies can die when parents use their grocery shopping cart as an infant car seat holder. Even when a baby is properly buckled into his infant car seat, it can topple off and fall to the ground when the infant car seat is placed in or on top of the area of the shopping cart that’s designed for small children to sit in. This can result in the injury or death of the baby strapped inside.
- Adding a Bundle Me to it. Lots of parents use a Bundle Me to keep their infants warm while traveling in their infant car seats, but doing so without modifying it is not safe. The Bundle Me, as designed, can interfere with the harness straps in the infant car seat, preventing the straps from properly tightening and fittingly snugly against the infant’s body. For proper protection, the straps must be fitted snugly against the child with no more than one finger fitting between the child’s body and the harness under the child’s collar bone. A Bundle-Me allows for much more than that.
- Using it after it’s been in an accident. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Commissions encourages parents to automatically replace car seats after moderate and severe crashes and says they don’t need to be routinely replaced after minor crashes, different car seat manufacturers have different guidelines. Be sure to check with your car seat manufacturer if your car seat has been in a crash to determine their recommendations and to err on the side of caution.
- Using it after it’s expired. Most parents are unaware that car seats actually expire. Car seats are made out of plastic, which can become brittle and lose strength over time. According to the Car Seat Lady, car seats typically expire 6 years after their date of manufacture. Plus, new seats with new and better technology come out that can increase the safety of infant passengers, so using an expired seat makes no sense.