6 Myths of Car-seat Safety

Thank you to Kids In The Back founder, Colleen Blundell for participating in our January School of Mom, and to Westcoast Kids for generously sponsoring a Britax car-seat as our prize!  This is a summary of what Colleen shared as the top myths in car-seat safety.

Britax-ROUNDABOUT-55-G3-BR-G3-E9LJ21AMyth: turn baby forward facing as soon as they hit 12months of age.

Truth: Rear-Face as long as possible

At one year babies are still developing neck and spine strength and sitting rear-facing in the vehicle immensely reduces the amount of pressure they face upon impact in a crash.  They are 5 times safer rear-facing and should remain rear-facing for as long as your seat allows (check your height and weight restrictions on your particular seat).

Myth: Buying a car-seat in the United States is fine.

Truth: It is against the law to use a car-seat purchased outside of Canada.

Don’t purchase a child seat in the US or anywhere else, other than Canada, as it is against the law to do so.  All child seats sold in Canada must be approved for use by Transport Canada and are affixed with the CMVSS label or “maple leaf” sticker. Canadian testing standards are different then those in the US and we do approve fewer seats for use here, therefore it was necessary to ensure that the seats being used here are meeting Canadian standards.

Myth:  My child can sit in the front passenger seat after they’ve outgrown their car-seats.

Truth: Your child should not sit in the front passenger seat until they are over the age of 12.

Do not travel with a child in the front seat of a vehicle until they are over the age of 12, unless you are traveling in a vehicle that only has one row of seating.  Always ensure that any active airbag is deactivated and that the vehicle seat itself is pulled as far back from the dash as possible.

Myth: The most expensive car-seat must be the best one and the one I should buy.

Truth: The best one for you is the one that fits your vehicle, your lifestyle and your budget.

I am often asked the question ”How do I choose the right car seat for my child?”  With so many seats to choose from the short answer is “the one that fits your vehicle, your lifestyle and your budget”. The long answer however, is that buying a child seat is a significant purchase for parents and we all want to get it right. Take your children to the store with you, try securing them in different seats and then ask to take the seat out to your car to see if it actually fits!

Children typically outgrow infant car seats between 4 and 7 months of age, so borrowing a seat from a trusted friend or family member is an option at this stage in a child’s life, as long as you confirm that the seat has not been recalled, has never been in a crash or has not expired.

A convertible seat is the seat that a child will ride in for 4-5 years, so I recommend purchasing this seat new. Look for a seat that gives the broadest height and weight range possible, that way it is you who decides when it is time to move your child to the next stage, not the seat that your child outgrows, that makes the decision for you.

Myth: Booster seats aren’t necessary.

Truth:  Booster seats are required by law in BC and recommended for all children until they reach a height of 4’9″ (145cm) and 80lbs or their 9th birthday.

A child is 3.5 times more likely to suffer a head injury in a crash when just using an adult seat belt than when buckled in a booster seat.

Once a child reaches 40 lbs they can by law in BC come out of a harnessed child car seat and move into a booster seat. If you are using a harnessed child seat with a height and weight limit that exceeds 40 lbs you can choose to keep your child harnessed until you feel they are mature enough to be traveling in just a seat belt, which is what a booster seat is. If you feel that your child is just going to find the big red dot and push the button to release seat belt, then you may want to keep them in there a wee bit longer! We typically say that “4 years and 40 lbs” is a good and realistic goal.Adjustable/detachable back booster seats adapt to any seating position in a vehicle equipped with a lap/shoulder belt, and are great for fostering independence in children who are going on field trips or play dates with their seats.

Booster seats can be used well past the age of 9 in some cases.

Myth: I can leave my child’s jacket on in the carseat.

Truth:  Bulking clothing should be removed before being secured in a five-point harness.

It is our recommendation that you remove any bulky clothing, including jackets, before securing your child into a car seat. Now that is easier said than done in Alberta, but bring your child out to the car wearing their jacket, remove it quickly, secure them and then cover them with a blanket to keep them warm or put their jacket on them “backwards”. This step ensures that the harness is as snug as it needs to be to secure your child in the event of a crash, as layers, even a bulky jacket, can make the harness too loose. We all compress down before moving forward in a crash, so it is very important to remember that we want the child and the seat to be as close to each other as possible to ensure a secure fit.

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