• Dr. Nicole Knapp

Infant Car Seat Placement

Nehemiah my nephew

Did you know I am a new Tia (Aunt) and also a step-granny? With these new roles in my life, I have been on an amazing journey. Since meeting these two little ones, my sense for safety has risen exponentially. One of the first times my sister sent me a picture of my nephew in his car seat, I noticed the restraint was not correctly fastened. I explained to her where the straps needed to be and why. Not long after, I noticed the same concerning the situation with my grand-baby. After becoming aware of the common issue in my family, I realized with the increased infant visits in our office lately that more and more harnesses weren't where they were supposed to be. After about a month of watching infants come and go in my office with the same problem, I knew I needed to take action. The decision to publicly educate the community made my lingering uneasiness turn into determination to create a safer environment for my family, friends, and patients.

Here are some quick, easy tips to think about when you are placing your precious bundle of joy into their car seat:

1. The car seat should be rear-facing! They should stay rear-facing until they reach about 35-50 pounds. The car seat manufacturer should also determine this.

2. Always place the child in the back seat of the vehicle. Never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an airbag! (This also gives you an opportunity to buy a cute mirror that you can use to see your baby's adorable face.)

3. The shoulder strap should be placed in the slots at or below the child’s shoulders. Most come with instructional pictures and a manual to refer back to.

4. The harness straps should be snug along the shoulders of the child. The less amount of space between the child and the straps is the target in order to decrease the amount of distance the child would be thrown forward in the event of an accident. The goal is to keep the baby safe!

5. It is also important to make sure the straps are not twisted or sagging. This can keep the child from any further injury that they would have otherwise received.

6. Place the chest clip at armpit level position. This is important. If the child is to be in an accident, this clip is placed over the sternum (breastbone) decreasing any chances of internal organ damage.

7. It is important to have your child not have any thick or bulky outerwear on such as coats or the use of blankets. These items will cause the straps to be loose and not tightly snug against the child’s body.

8. If you are concerned that your child is growing out of their car seat, check and see how far away the top of their head is from the top of the car seat. When their head is less than an inch away from the top of the car seat, they may be ready for a new one. Make sure to read your manufacturer's height and weight limits before switching.

9. When it comes down to cleaning the car seat, wipe them with a moist cloth. Submerging or putting in the washing machine can ruin the integrity of the straps. If the straps are that gross, buying new straps would be the best choice!

10. Another great tip for tightening the harness straps: They should be tight enough that you can't pinch the webbing between your thumb and fingers. If you can pinch at all, it's too loose!

Remember, harness strap misuse is the most common error found in car seat use! Next time you position your child into their car seat, make sure you run through these easy steps in your head. If you’re struggling to understand or just need a simple demonstration of proper harness use, stop on in and I’ll be glad to show you the best and safest way to keep your child protected in a car seat!

For more information and regulations on car seat safety, feel free to check out the D.O.T. link I have provided! Also, contact Nicole Knapp D.C. for any further questions at 262-796-5108.

https://wisconsind ot.gov/Pages/safety/education/child-safety/default.aspx
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