The moment I found out that I was pregnant, I started researching about car seats. Besides that it is mandated by law to use a car seat, I wanted to provide the best car seat for my baby. Unfortunately I later realize that I did not do a more thorough research regarding which car seat to use immediately after bringing my baby home from the hospital. I do know that all the car seats sold in Canada are strictly inspected and is safe to use. What I regretted was not researching or choosing an infant car seat that would enable us to utilize it for an extended amount of time. This includes having an infant car seat that has a higher than necessary height and weight limit. You see, most babies or children outgrew their car seats’ height limit earlier than the weight limit. This is why it is important to choose a car seat that would allow the child to continue rear facing for as long as possible ideally at least 4 years old.
The regret that I felt may be because I later realized that our car does not support anchoring the car seats using the latch system when it is being placed in the middle seat. Placing the car seat in the middle seat is the safest but if it is not possible as long as the car seat is properly installed it is safe for the baby or child. Our car not supporting the middle seat latch attachment could explain why our infant car seat can still be moved more than an inch no matter how tight we made it to be. My husband and I would constantly argue about it and I always insist that he should tighten it more. I even tried googling places wherein car seat installation can be checked for free, unfortunately I could not find it in my province. Luckily we rarely ever bring our baby outside unless for doctor’s appointments or the rare occasion of grocery shopping (my husband is the one who always grocery shop in our household).
As my baby outgrew his infant car seat, I decided to research car seats thoroughly because I wanted my baby to use a car seat that would allow him to rear-face for as long as possible (minimum of 4 years old). I even utilize Car Seats For The Littles (http://csftl.org/) who has an amazing resource regarding car seats. Based on those requirements, I decided on purchasing the Graco4ever 4-in-1 convertible car seat (http://www.gracobaby.com/pages/4ever-car-seat.aspx) who has an extended height limit and a rear-facing weight limit of 40 lbs. This convertible car seat also converts from rear-facing, forward-facing, high back booster, and backless booster until 120 lbs. Amidst its high price tag, I was very happy that Graco was finally able to launch this car seat into Canadian market.
Remembering our mistakes as first time parents regarding car seat installation, I made sure that my husband tighten the car seat as much as possible making sure that it does not move more than an inch on all sides. I still do not like that it is being installed behind the passenger seat instead of in the middle seat but I am reassured that as long as the car seat is installed properly, it should be safe for my baby. What I learned from this experience is that parents, especially first time parents, should research their chosen car seats thoroughly and also learn to properly install car seats. I know it can be a daunting process but our kids deserves the best protection that we can give them when traveling using a car.
Another important lesson that I learned regarding car seat safety is that babies and children should never wear coats or bulky jackets when using a car seat. It is best and safest to dress babies and children in thin clothing either a t-shirt and pants or a onesie. If it is winter, it is best to cover babies and children in coats, blankets, or a poncho on top of the car seat straps instead of wearing coats or bulky jackets underneath the car seat straps. In the event of an accident, the car seats straps would not be able to properly secure the baby or child if they are wearing coats or bulky clothing. Furthermore, the chest clip should be placed in armpit level and the strap is below the shoulder of the baby or child when rear facing.