Importance of car seats for infants and toddlers. Do you really need it?


Do you need a car seat for infants and toddlers ? In this article we will talk about importance of car seats for infants and toddlers and help you make a decision on whether you should invest on it.

Disclaimer : This is a sponsored post, but the views are completely personal

Most of the parents I know in India do not not use car seats for kids. They either believe its too much of an investment or they think of it as unnecessary as who wants to sit in a car seat as opposed to parents lap or on his own ? And believe me I was one of them until I did some research.

So lets start with some facts and statistics first.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for all children.  Child restraints, or car seats, reduce the risk of injury by 71% to 82% and reduce the risk of death by 28% in comparison to children in seat belts alone. And these are statistics when kids are using seat belts.

More than a third of children under age 13 who died in passenger vehicle crashes were not in car seats or wearing seat belts.

Motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause of death for children. In 2011, almost two children under the age of 13 were killed and 338 were injured every day while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups and vans.

Car accidents and crashes are getting more and more common these days. We parents usually believe that we are being very careful about our kids safety and are doing everything we can to keep them safe and protected. But most of us do not use car seats – partly because of myths involving car seats or our lack of knowledge about importance of car seats and how to use them.

So let us see what we will be covering in this article on car seats.

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Importance of car seats

To understand why are car seats important let us start with first understanding what happens in a car crash.

When a crash occurs, a car occupant without a seat-belt or child restraint will continue moving at the same speed as the car before the collision and as a results catapulted forward – most likely either into the front dashboard or back of front seat depending on where a child or occupant is sitting.

Car seats and restraint systems can help your kid in not being thrown forward and thus plays a major role in reducing severity of injury and chances of survival in case of car crash or when involved in an accident.

Car seats, when correctly installed and used, provide proven life-saving and injury-reducing benefits for child passengers. In fact, properly used car seats decrease the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers.

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Car seats safety – Myths and facts

Usually we parents think if we are going at low speed, we can carry the child in our lap. And our arms are sufficient to do what car seats do. (False.)

As I said earlier, parents have the impression we are the safest, most protective force for our children, but this is not the case when we’re inside a moving vehicle.

Let’s see the basic physics behind this: In a crash, our body weight is multiplied by the speed at which we travel. That means in a 40 kmph crash, a 50 kg adult becomes a 2000 kg force – more than enough weight to crush the child in one’s arms. That is, if you even manage to keep hold of the child, which is unlikely; in the same 40 kmph crash, a 3-kg infant turns into a 120-kg force against the arms holding it.

This is the biggest reason why car seats are important: In an accident, the laws of physics turn us into crushing threats to kids in our arms and laps; car seats for children are specifically designed not to be dangerous.

Car seat is a better option to keep them safe from any fatal injury in case of any crash. Sometimes we parents keep our kids in laps with a thought it will give them a cushion and can save them from any sudden fall. But your lap can’t give a child the security which a car seat may give.

Usually we parents think kids hate riding in car seats. (True — but only some.)

When kids are developing they tend to explore and learn about the world around them, then if you tie them in car seats they may not like it and may show their resistance.

But after all that we’ve learned above, Can kids not liking a car seat be a reason for not using a car seat ?

After all, when kids don’t want to have veggies and fruits, at times don’t want to take a bath or wash hands, don’t want to go to school, we make them understand that these activities are good for them. We as parents help our kids understand that these all are good for their health. Similarly, we can make them understand that sitting in a car seat is necessary when you are on road and this is for their safety.

While a crying baby in a car is no one’s idea of fun, isn’t it better to have a temporarily disgruntled child than an injured or worse child?

And here’s the thing about car seats: The more you make them a normal part of daily life, the less your child will resist.

And what I can tell from my personal experience is that my kid cried twice (for 2 days) when we used  car seat and then he got used to it. Rather I have seen that he sleeps much more comfortably and enjoys more after we have got a car seat. I wish I had got the car seat earlier.

We parents don’t want to make a newborn sit in a car seat with a thought a newborn is too delicate to use a car seat. (False.)

Newborns and infants, are the tiniest and most delicate creature and that is precisely the reason why they should travel in a car seat. In some countries they do not let you take a child from a hospital to home unless you ave a proper car seat installed in the car.

In addition to the physics described above, infants and babies under 2 are at an extra disadvantage in an unrestrained car crash: Their skull bones have not yet fused together, nor have their neck and spine fully developed, leaving them extra vulnerable to brain damage from head injuries (which are the most common injuries sustained by children in motor vehicle accidents).

The next time when you have to face a question why car seats for infants and toddlers are important, you can answer: Like many safety measures, the value of a car seat isn’t realized until an accident occurs. But car seats save lives in a way we (as parents) can’t — and that’s a fact.

What’s the use of car seats when kids outgrow, car seats are of no use. (True — but not at the age we thought.)

It’s true that car seats are only effective for children within certain age and weight ranges, but that only means kids’ car seat needs change, rather than disappear, as they grow. Only once a child is 5 feet tall can he or she use an adult seat belt directly.

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Which car seat is right for the child

There are number of seats available in market. Choose the one that best suits to your kid’s size and age. Making use of the right car seat or booster seat that is constantly locked and safe can save your kids’ lives.

Rear-facing Car Seat.(recommended for infants): This car seat is best suitable till two years of age. It is advisable to use as long as possible as this is the safest option for your baby.

Forward-facing Car Seat (recommended for older kids): This car seat is suitable when kids reach at the age of 5.

Booster Seat: Once they outgrow the forward-facing seat, buckle them in a booster seat until they reach the proper seat belt height, which is 5.7 inches tall.

Seat Belt: You can now stop using the car seats once the car’s seat belt fits properly in your child’s body.

Thus, when you use car seats your kid is perfectly tied up and latched properly in a seat. Thus the chances of getting too much injured get reduced when you use a car seat.

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How to choose car seat

It is advisable and it is good if you prepare yourself and your car for a car seat before you have a baby in your life. Install the car seat for newborn or infants well before your due date and ensure the proper fitting and safety for your little one.

– Choose a car seat of a good quality and it should be secure for your infant or a small child.

– The base of the car seat can easily be installed in the car. Look out for a 5 point harness seat as they are very safe. Before buying a car seat make sure that the baby car seat has a latch to secure it in place.

– As per practice a 45 degree angle installation is the safest for your baby, before buying a car seat check that there is an indicator at the base which would help you view the angle of installation. There are number of car seats available in market you can select the car seat that can be detached easily and fit into baby strollers with just a simple click. A padded seat which has head support and soft cushions would be comfortable for your baby, especially during long travel.

– Select the car seat with a fabric which has good moisture absorbing capability, removable and also easy to clean so that you can wash it occasionally.

There are car seats with a canopy to protect your baby from the sun you can go for it.

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Car seats for newborn or infants

When I was buying a car seat we did not know where to start so here is the list of car seats from amazon that you con consider for your baby.

Car seats from companies like Graco and Chicco and expensive but their comfort and quality are world class.The other ones are value for money and provide basic decent features.

See more infants car seats on amazon

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Convertible car seats for kids

Convertible car seats are expensive but actually turn out cheaper in the longer run. Here are some convertible car seats from amazon that you can consider for you baby.

See more convertible car seats on Amazon

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Common mistakes when choosing car seats

Here is a list of common mistakes which people make when choosing a car seat for kids.

Incomplete information: Usually parents just go to market to buy a car seat. This is not the right way. Parents should first do their homework and try to get the information about car seats.First decide the type of seat you should buy for your kid. As per the age and weight of your child go for the rear facing, forward facing car seats for your kid. There are number of how to install car seats videos available you can check that.

For a better understanding about the installation, and to check the car compatibility with a car seat you can refer to  cars.com/ 

Not reading manual : Don’t start installing the car seat as and when you buy that. First read the instructions and labels that come with the car seat, and read the vehicle owner’s manual for important information on installing the seat in a particular vehicle.

Improper installation : Ensure the proper latching of car seat before you start using it, otherwise it may cost you much. Use the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) restraint system or seat belt to install the car seat and use the top tether to secure forward-facing car seats.

Not registering the car seat : Registration of car seat to the related agencies is very important. Thus, as and when you buy a car seat for your seat register it with related organisation for information if there is a safety recall on a particular model.

Not contacting the manufacturer and getting it recalled: Don’t keep using the car seat if you are facing problem. Manufacturers must meet the safety guidelines when producing a car seat; if you experience a problem with the car seat, you have purchased, contact the manufacturer and ask them to recall it.

Not wearing seat belt: As a parent you should set a good example in front of your kids. Always wear a seat belt when you are on road, even for a short distance. Unbuckled drivers are more likely to have unrestrained children in the car.

Don’t get it inspected: You can use the facility provided by various car seat inspection agencies. Go to your local car seat inspection station to have seats checked by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician they will show you the correct method of installation and how to use them, help determine if children are ready to move up from car seats to booster seats and from booster seats to seat belts; and help make sure car seats are registered, important in case they are recalled.

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Summary

Hope this article on car seats for kids cleared some of your doubts about importance of car seats for infants and toddlers. I personally believe they are a must have and thus they are required by law in some countries.

When your kid is not young enough to put on a seat belt that perfectly fits in his/her body, the better idea is to use a car seat for their safety. We parents should inculcate a habit of using a car seat for our kids when we are on road starting as early as possible. Undoubtedly it is a good practice for a better and secure future of our kids.

Accidents keep happening on roads and it is our duty to keep ourselves and our kids safe from any such injuries that may affect our future life.

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You may also want read one of our other popular articles on Best Travel games when travelling in car

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An MBA Professional, used to work with bank in Forex deptt. I am a mother of a 2 ½ year old kid. In my spare time I Love to travel, read books and gardening. Great fan of Dan Brown and Jeffrey Archer novels.

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