Car seat safety tip

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As you may know I recently took my first road trip with my new baby. Since I don't own a car (yet) the information I am about to provide you with I did not know. Many of you are probably familiar with what I am about to tell you but for those new mommies out there like me, here goes.

Please remember I am not a professional, so I may use layman's terms, but keep in mind that I did get professional advice.

Like many all-in-one or 'travel systems' our infant carrier connects to a car seat base and becomes a car seat. As I'm sure you know, the safest place for the infant carrier car seat (or any car seat as far as I can tell) is in the middle of the back seat, not on the sides. Sides are an option, but are considered a tad less safe than the middle. The sides also make use of the passenger seat belt which can be awkward.

The latch method is considered the safest method to attach the car seat to the middle of the back seat of the car rather than with the safety belt from a side seat. Interestingly enough, and this is the important point I was surprised to learn and wanted to share with you, the latches in most cars that are pre-2008 are NOT designed to be used with a car seat in the middle of the back seat of the car.

If you look at the instruction manual of your infant carrier/car seat you will note it says to place the car seat (or base, or what have you) in the middle of the back seat of the car and to use both latches when securing the base to the back seat.

If you look at the latches in the back seat of your car you may notice that they are TOO FAR APART to be used to secure the car seat base in the middle.

If you look at the owner's manual for the car in the infant safety/securing car seats section you will most likely note that it says the car latches in the back seat are NOT DESIGNED TO BE USED WITH THE INFANT CARRIER IN THE MIDDLE, which as we've established is the safest place for the car seat.

So what you have is two different industries supplying products that are supposed to go together but don't. Cars are not designed to be used with the car seat bases and vice versa.

My aunt, whose job--seriously--is child safety--checked out my car seat base, etc., at my request in order to ensure my son was the safest he could be during our road trip. She was impressed with how tightly I managed to get the base of the car seat secured. I was proud of myself for that, because step number two for safety with car seats (after placing the car seat in the MIDDLE of the backseat) is to ensure that the seat is as tightly secured as possible.

She then took a look at the owner's manual for the car we rented, a 2008 Ford Escape, expecting to find the conflicting information. She was positively surprised to find out that the 2008 model for this particular vehicle WAS designed with the two latches in the appropriate place in the back seat for use with the car seat in the middle.

Thank goodness!

It certainly has given me pause when considering whether to buy a new or used vehicle. I would guess--although I do not know this--that cars like Volvos, which have always been considered safe and have had high safety ratings might not have the latches in the wrong place. I could be wrong about that, but if you have experience with this please let me know.

We are looking in to getting a car but don't know that we can afford one. That said, you can bet your bottom dollar that where my son's safety is concerned money is no object. If I need to get a new vehicle to ensure my son can properly be latched in the middle of the back seat then so be it.

Just so you know I am NOT promoting the Ford Escape (although it was a nice ride). We just happened to rent that kind of car and it just happened to meet with my aunt's professional approval. And it was a 2008. Each year safety features are updated and added to cars, so I think we really just lucked out on this one.

Any thoughts on or experiences with this? I really am considering getting a car and I want to ensure I make the safest choice possible for the kiddo.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.