Flipping your toddler upside down isn't exactly the definition of safety, but in this case it might be. Rachel McNamara rotated her son's car seat 90 degrees to share an important message about proper fit.
"After strapping your child into their car seat, ask yourself if you'd be comfortable flipping it upside down," she wrote on Facebook. The cute photos illustrated a meaningful point: Keeping straps snug could make all the difference in the event of a major accident. While McNamara doesn't think that parents should flip their kids before every car ride, it's powerful reminder to conduct the the "inch and pinch test."
"The inch test involves you trying to move the car seat front to back or side to side. If you can jostle it more than an inch, it's not positioned properly," says Rachel Rothman, Chief Technologist at the Good Housekeeping Institute. "The pinch test requires checking to ensure the harness is properly buckled. With the chest clip at armpit level, try to pinch the strap at the shoulder. You should not be able to get any excess webbing."
McNamara included lots of additional advice in her now-viral post, including why parents should stick to rear-facing seats as long as possible. While many make the switch sooner, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises using rear-facing seats until the age of 2. "It provides more head, neck and spine protection," Rothman explains.
Another common mistake? Dressing your kids in bulky coats before clicking in. Puffy jackets can compress in a crash, putting children at risk. Best practice is to lay a blanket on top of a secure harness.
Parents should also know their seats' history. "Never buy a used car seat unless it comes from someone you can absolutely trust," McNamara wrote in her post. If it's been in a crash before, the seat might no longer provide proper protection. It's also a good idea to check the expiration tag, and keep up-to-date on recalls. "Always register your products, especially any concerning the safety of your children," Rotman says. "That way, you will be informed if the product has been recalled for any reason."
For more tips, don't miss our car seat safety guide. When three in four seats are used incorrectly, a quick refresher on best practices could help save your child's life.
[h/t Scary Mommy]
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