As a new parent, you may be overwhelmed with the inundation of considerations and responsibilities you’re suddenly faced with. You’re expected to make dozens of decisions you’ve never even thought about. Many of these decisions are far from intuitive. Traveling with your baby by car can be especially complicated:
- Do you use an infant carrier or a convertible car seat?
- Should it face forward or backwards?
- How long should you use the car seat for?
If you’re like most new parents, your default mode of operation may be to wing it. However, new research has found that the answers to such questions can have a major impact on your child’s safety on the road. Here are a couple key benchmarks to keep in mind:
Infant carrier vs. convertible car seat
For very young babies, infant carriers provide the best fit. However, if you use an infant carrier, it’s important to heed the height and weight restrictions of this seat. Once your baby outgrows it, move them into a convertible car seat – no later than their first birthday. In crash tests with dummies the size of one-year-old dummies, 53% of dummies in infant carriers sustained head injuries – compared to only 4% in convertible car seats.
Rear-facing vs. forward-facing
Until recently, the overarching guidance surrounding car seat usage has been to keep your baby in a rear-facing car seat until they reach two years of age. However, new crash impact studies indicate that it is best to keep your child in a rear-facing position for as long as possible – until they outgrow the seat according to its height and weight restrictions. This can reduce the likelihood of injuries to the head and spine, in the event of a crash. For some children, this may mean moving into a forward-facing booster seat at age two. For others, this transition may not happen until age four.
One simple parenting decision can make all the difference in terms of your child’s safety. Following the above guidelines can help protect your child from serious injury in the event of a crash.