Anyone who knows me can vouch that I’m pretty intense when it comes to car safety for littlies, especially Caitlin and her car seat who seem to have a love/hate relationship… This mama does not allow any form of back seat (or worse, front seat) driving when mom’s around! Blame the anxious, paranoid parent in me – or the fact that I love my child to absolute death and trust no one when it comes to her safety (yes, I’m that bad!).
It’s funny how we purchase a safety product, have a quick run-through the manual and ‘Bob’s your uncle’ you now know how to manoeuvre this exceptionally intimidating contraption (at least that’s how I felt when first having to deal with an upright carseat…?) So, you strap your little one in, they absolutely hate it (Caitlin doesn’t enjoy it…as you can see from the picture… haha!) and yet you explain to them that it is for their safety and look, mommy and daddy are wearing their safety belts too! They get used to the car seat and you continue with the knowledge you know on how to use the car seat, but do you really know, I mean REALLY KNOW that the pinnacle of your existence (I’m referring to your child, btw ;D) is 100% safely strapped in?
I sure thought I did! Yet, sometimes we are in a hurry (man are we in a hurry!) and you think you securely locked the buckle with no knots in the harness and somehow a piece of clothing or part of a toy gets stuck and manages to jiggle out the buckle. YES, this has happened to me once or twice where I ended up being completely freaked out at the thought of what could’ve gone wrong!!!
Since then, I try to take it slow when buckling up for a drive out; ensuring that Caitlin is fully buckled up before I get into the car and do the same for the driver (aka this MAMA).
Now, as a firm believer of turning to ‘the GOOGLE’ when in need of help (as we all tend to do when we feel uneducated about a certain subject or matter), I tend to research things in order to better equip myself with the required knowledge so that I do not make the same mistakes time and time again.
A few tips that I’ve found useful by incorporating them into our drive out routine to ensure that the little one is safely buckled up in her car seat:
- Ensure the harness isn’t twisted and is correctly placed in front of the body
At a certain age, toddlers tend to try their luck by ‘unstrapping’ themselves as they remove their arms out of the straps, even though the buckle is still safely secure. This is a big NO-NO! To avoid this from happening, try the BeSafe Belt Collector – a nifty add-on that ensures your little one’s belts remain in the correct position (along with their body posture) whilst blocking them from removing/escaping out from under the straps.
- Once the buckle is locked, pull back on the harness without unlocking the buckle to ensure it is safely clicked in.
Since my mistakes of not checking the buckle post locking it, it is part of our ritual and Caitlin knows that no toys are allowed on her lap whilst we buckle up. This is mostly due to the fact that it is usually her ‘teddy’ that gets caught in the buckle causing it not to click in 100%. By pulling on the straps/belts post locking the buckle, you can see that it is locked properly and also evaluate if any clothing or toys or blankets may or may not block the mechanic from working properly.
- Check for any unwanted items that may block the car seat’s safety mechanics ie. buckle, straps, harness
As mentioned in the previous point, any unwanted items (by you as parent, they are usually very wanted by your child at that point) must not be in the way of buckling up for a drive out. That means all toys, clothing, blankets… anything.
- In winter, avoid too puffy coats/jackets
Extremely think/puffy jackets or coats may keep your little one all snuggly and warm in winter, but it can also cause the car seat to not work properly. We tend to use a blanket over Caitlin once she’s buckled up safely in her car seat to ensure that she stays warm and put her jacket on after we’ve reached our destination and unbuckled her.
- IMPORTANT! Do a test – the upside down test
This is probably THE best advice to ensure that the car seat you own is safe for your little one – no matter what may come your way whilst on the road. The main aim of a car seat is to protect your child in the case of an accident – guarding their little bodies as the car flips, rolls or hits an object. It cannot do this job 100% if you do not use it properly – I cannot emphasize it enough! No matter how much you paid for that car seat – whether its a fancy 6-digit car seat or an el’cheapo that was a hand-me down from a family member or friend – always check that it is in its best working condition by doing the upside down test.
How to do the upside down test:
- Take the car seat out of the car – yes, OUT of the car.
- Buckle your child up safely and properly as you would do if you were going for a drive out. No less than a 1 to 2 finger space between their bodies and the harness straps!
- Now, pick your child up as they sit in the car seat and hold them upside down.
- Your child should remain safely in their car seat. This is how you know that it’s a keeper (the car seat, of course!).NB! Always have someone for an extra pair of hands when doing this test. Accidents happen quite quickly.
And that’s my tips to a happy, fun and safe driving experience for both parent and children. For more information on car seat safety, follow #CarSeatFullstop on social media platforms and join in the conversation by liking, sharing and commenting on this post (and others)!
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