Always use a car seat when transporting a child in the car. Never place the car seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has a front passenger air bag since this could cause serious injury and/or death. If you must place your car seat in the front seat, turn off the airbags to prevent serious injury and/or even death.
Do not use a used car seat since you cannot ensure that it was not involved in a crash and/or recalled.
Do not use a car seat older than 6 years.
Read your owner’s manual carefully and know how to operate your car seat.
The middle seat in the back of the car is the safest place for a car seat. However, you may not be able to place the seat in the middle of your backseat because of your car’s LATCH system and/or seat belt access. Therefore, the car seat can be placed in the back on the side seats. Be sure to read your vehicle’s owner manual for instructions regarding side air bags.
Ensure that the car seat is installed tightly and properly in the vehicle. If the car seat is able to be moved 1 inch side-to-side
Ensure that the harness fits the child snugly. The harness straps should be positioned in the slots at or below your child’s shoulders when in a rear-facing seat. In a forward-facing seat, the straps should be positioned in the slots at or above the shoulders.
Ensure the seat is reclined at the correct 45˚ angle so your child’s head does not flop forward. Many seats provide angle indicators, be sure to review your owner’s manual.
Do not use any type of insert that did not come with your car seat since your car seat was not crash tested and proven safe with this additional equipment.
Do not use a blanket that goes between the car seat and your child because this compromises the integrity of the car seat. Only use a blanket on top of your child and make sure that it is no higher than the chest to prevent suffocation.
Avoid using thick jackets or snowsuits because the extra padding can compromise the snugness of the harness. Instead, use a blanket on top of your child and make sure that it is no higher than the chest to prevent suffocation.
Smaller infants fit more securely in infant-only seats. If needed, use rolled up blankets around the baby but make sure to NEVER place the blankets under or behind your baby.
Babies born before 37 weeks should have a car seat challenge test in the hospital prior to discharge to ensure that they can ride safely in a reclined position. If baby does not pass this test, a car bed may be needed.
Joyce's Tip: NHTSA recommends to use shelf liner under your car seat instead of non-slip mats. Shelf liner is inexpensive and has grip on both sides to help reduce sliding of the car seat.
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