Paramedics Reveal One Thing That Matters More Than Car Seat Quality

And they're showing how to test its effectiveness.
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By Anisa Arsenault, Associate Editor
Updated July 11, 2017

As one of the most important pieces of safety gear that baby will routinely spend time in, your car seat is something you may be willing to splurge on. And we’re continuously impressed by the innovations brands make to keep baby safe, from accurate self-installations to sensors that remind you baby’s in the car. But husband and wife paramedics are here to remind us that all those bells and whistles don’t matter if your child’s not secured properly in the first place.

“When you become a parent you spend ages researching the ‘best’ car seat. You look for safety features, star ratings and reviews and fret over if you can afford the best,” Krystal Kleidon, the blogger behind Project Hot Mess, writes in a post. “But it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on a car seat if you don’t strap your child in.”

Kleidon, along with her husband, is also a paramedic.

“Between my husband and I, in our 20 years experience, we have not seen a single child harmed in a car accident where the child was restrained in their seat properly,” she writes. “Not a single one. We’ve seen car seats ejected from vehicles, we’ve seen cars that have rolled over so many times you can barely tell which way is up, we’ve seen accidents where you would be certain there would be no survivors. But in our experience, the biggest difference between a child’s safety hasn’t been if they were in the $600 car seat or the $200 one. It’s been about those straps.”

Kleidon explains how to tell if a child is properly secured in a car seat:

  • Make sure they can’t pull their own arms out from under the straps
  • You should only be able to fit a finger or two between the strap and your child
  • No blankets or bulky clothing, like a jacket, should come between your child and the straps

She adds that while factors like front- or rear-facing positions and chest clip height are also important for car seat safety, she wants to talk about something as basic as secure straps, specifically, because that’s an issue she sees on the job.

Kleidon ends the post on this note:

“So next time you buckle your child in, ask yourself: Would I be confident in turning them upside down in their seat right now?”

It looks like they’re certainly confident. And remember, other parents swear by this test too.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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