Thank you to Cybex for kindly sponsoring this post about car seat safety tips. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been confused about car seats… they can be pretty intimidating and choosing the right seat and making sure your child’s car seat is installed properly are some of the most important things you have to do as a parent. I’m about 6 years into my mom journey, so I figured I’ve buckled and unbuckled my kids a collective 20,000+ times – that’s a lot of car seat experience!
Note: I’m not a pediatrician, EMT, or safety professional. But I am a mom who follows recommendations from car seat manufacturers and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and who knows that shopping for car seats and installing them can be a confusing process. Thankfully, technology has come a *long* way, even in the five years since my oldest was born.
My new favorite seat is the Sirona M with SensorSafe 2.0 from Cybex because it offers advanced child safety protection in an easy-to-use, convertible car seat. I’m most excited about the new technology in the Sirona M with SensorSafe 2.0 because it has an amazing safety feature built into the chest clip of the car seat to alert you when unsafe situations arise. Basically, when the chest clip is locked, the alarm chimes when you turn off the car and the baby is still buckled, reminding you to get your baby out of her seat. I’m so impressed with this effort to prevent hot car deaths and other unsafe situations (ie your toddler unbuckling herself while you’re going 70mph on the highway). I also *love* the 12-position height adjustable headrest with the no-rethread harness, which means that you don’t have to rethread the car seat straps as your baby grows – EASY for the win! There’s also a Linear Side-Impact Protection system (L.S.P.), which is easily adjustable and used on the door facing side of the car seat; it can absorb up to 25% more impact forces in a side-impact collision in combination with the head and shoulder protectors – I’ll take that extra protection! Click here to see all the details on the Sirona M with SensorSafe 2.0.
Now for the car seat safety tips & info I’ve learned over the years:
What is a convertible car seat anyway?
Convertible just refers to the fact that the car seat can be used as a rear facing seat or a forward facing seat. Not specifically for use in convertibles, which is something my husband may or may not have asked when our first baby was born ;).
Latch vs Strap
There are two ways to secure the car seat to your car. The LATCH system is in many cars refers to metal anchors at the base of a car’s seat, where the child’s car seat can easily clip to the LATCH. Alternatively, you can use the car’s seatbelt to secure the car seat to the car. I personally like to try both to figure out which gets the seat in tightest; the seat should move less than an inch when you try to wiggle it side to side after it’s attached.
Pumpkin seat vs Convertible Car Seat
It’s not true that an infant must ride in a pumpkin seat BUT the reason that some parents use a pumpkin seat versus a convertible car seat with their infants is that the pumpkin seat is easily removed from the car without having to take the baby out of the seat. Many pumpkin seats also attach to strollers or travel systems, so that’s a factor as well. Finally, you can buy several bases for pumpkin seats if you have multiple cars in which the baby will ride (mom’s, dad’s, grandma’s, etc) so it may make sense to start with a pumpkin seat and upgrade to a Convertible Car seat later on. Most convertible car seats are safe for babies above 5 lbs.
REar facing vs forward facing
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies and toddlers stay rear facing until they are at least 2 years old or when they have outgrown the rear-facing height or weight limits of their car seat. Personally, we keep our kids rear-facing until their 4th birthdays. Here’s the source, if you’re interested in reading more. Basically, toddler’s bones are still held together by cartilage versus actual bone, which means that their bones are not yet rigid enough to protect their spinal cords in the event of a crash. Additionally, baby’s and toddler’s heads are much bigger in proportion to the rest of the body, meaning their spinal columns need more protection than an adult’s. Also – most crashes are frontal impacts versus side impacts, which means the stress of impact is put on the neck and head because the body travels to the point of impact (in this case, forwards). Researchers compared the injuries sustained by the children in crashes and found “the odds of severe injury for forward-facing infants under 12 months of age were 1.79 times higher than for rear-facing infants; for children 12 to 23 months old, the odds were 5.32 times higher” <—- that’s all the evidence I need to keep my children rear-facing until they’re ready to turn around.
Arguments I usually hear about moving a child to forward-facing are that they ‘look uncomfortable’ or their ‘legs are crowded’ but kids are really flexible and I’d rather a child with a broken leg than a broken neck. Think about all the crazy positions your child sits in or sleeps in; they look uncomfortable to you, but they’re clearly comfy enough to sleep.
What’s Up with the Chest Clip?
The chest slip should always rest on the child’s chest at their armpits. It should be tight enough that the webbing of the seat belt can’t be pinched together with your two fingers when you test it at your kid’s shoulders. The chest clip on the Sirona M with SensorSafe 2.0 has a safety sensor built in to remind you that baby is in the car – I LOVE the extra safety feature!
Where should the harness straps sit?
When your child is rear-facing, the straps should be at or below the child’s shoulders. When forward-facing, the harness straps should be at or above the child’s shoulders.