Keep Your Baby Safe in the First Two Months – Part 1: Car Seat Safety

September is Baby Safety Month, an awareness event sponsored by the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association (JPMA), the industry organization for quality and safety in baby and children’s products. Baby and children’s products with the JPMA Certification Seal means that they have been sample tested at an independent laboratory and meet the highest standards for quality, safety, performance, and functionality. Baby Safety Month is a time when JPMA and supporting organizations work extra hard to educate families and caregivers on selecting safe products for their children. 

When most people hear “baby safety,” they think of childproofing a house with outlet covers and cabinet latches. But baby safety encompasses all the ways in which parents and caregivers must work to keep a baby safe, including safe sleeping, feeding, car seat safety, and baby gear/products safety. In this three-part post, we want will introduce you to the safety priorities for your baby’s first two months of life, provide tips, and share resources to learn more. Today, we’re talking car seats. 

Car Seat Safety

This element of baby safety begins before your baby is even born! Follow these tips to select a safe car seat (all car seats today are required to meet strict standards set by the federal government — no need to look for a seal on new car seats):

  • Don’t buy or use a second-hand car seat that is beyond its expiration date or that has been in a crash before. If you cannot verify with 100% certainty the history of the car seat, do not use it. 
  • Select a car seat that has the correct height and weight limits for an infant. Infant-specific car seats are designed specifically to support and keep infants safe, though convertible car seats also can safely hold infants.  
  • Check that your car seat has the manufacturer’s label in place, which shows the manufacturer name, model number, and date the car seat was manufactured (critical to know for expiration).

Once you have a safe car seat, the next steps involve making sure it’s safe and ready for your baby. 

  • Make sure your seat is installed safely according to the car seat manual and your car’s manual. Car seats for children ages 2-4 and under should be rear facing. Many fire stations will perform a car seat installation safety check for you for free.
  • Register your car seat with the manufacturer. Information on how to do this and where should be included with the car seat manual, but can also be done by calling or visiting the manufacturer website (manufacturer label is on the car seat’s side).

Car seat safety is an ongoing process. Follow these tips to ensure your baby stays safe in their seat:

  • Make sure your baby is buckled safely each and every time (even if the infant car seat is taken out of the car) — straps should lay flat and tight across your baby’s chest and legs. 
  • Bulky blankets and clothing should not go under the car seat straps. Poofy/fluffy/bulky fabric will compress in a crash, which means that the car seat straps will not work as designed to keep your baby safe. 
  • Use your baby’s car seats in all cars — grandparents, on vacation, with caregivers, etc. 
  • Never place an infant car seat on high surfaces, like counters or in the top part of a shopping cart. 
  • Learn about how to prevent heat stroke in cars — never leave your child alone in the car, even for a moment, and leave your cell phone, brief case, purse, or your left shoe in the back seat with your baby as a reminder that you aren’t traveling alone. You can also place a visual cue like a stuffed animal or picture of your baby in the front seat or on the dash. 

Learn more about car seat safety at JPMA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, and HealthyChildren.org

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