Founded in 1983 by The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) Baby Safety Month is observed each September and dedicates four whole weeks to helping expectant or new parents learn best practices to keep their baby safe. This is the perfect opportunity to refresh any of your existing knowledge, put it to the test or learn new valuable information.
Each year JPMA focuses on a different, specific topic, but you’ll always find Diono advocating for car seat safety and top recommendations to achieve the safest ride possible for your infant passenger.
To see more top tips and recommendations, join in by following and using #BabySafetyMonth.
Five tips for safe travel!
In no particular order, here are five of our top recommendations for you to ensure safe travel for newborn and infant passengers.
1. Rear-facing travel
It comes as no surprise that we begin our top tips with rear-facing travel. We’ve been promoting rear-facing travel loud and proud over the years, not just for infants and newborn travellers but as long as possible.
Extensive research across the world has found rear-facing travel to be the safest for child passengers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children travel rear-facing for as long as possible, until age 4 if possible, or to the full rear-facing weight capacity of the car seat. The World Health Organization conducted a study that concluded children up to the age of 4 have 80% less chance of injury when travelling rear-facing. The bone structure and formation of a child is not properly formed until they are around 6-7 years old, while their skull is not as strong as that of an adult. This combination means that younger passengers are much more vulnerable in a collision, which is why car seats in the rear-facing position are designed to distribute force evenly over a wider area.
LATCH, top tether, seat belt… You’ll hear these terms often when researching your car seat, and it’s important to understand what they mean so you can confidently install your car seat properly. Whether you’ve installed numerous car seats or this is your first time, it’s easy to overlook crucial elements of fitting or make common mistakes and mishaps. For example, you installed the car seat in advance but haven’t checked it in weeks, or you forgot to check if it fits flush against the back seat. Perhaps it’s not secured properly to the base or positioned correctly in the ideal location. Remember, a poorly installed car seat can put your child at risk for severe injury during a crash. For a correct installation make sure and read your car seat manual and vehicle manual before installing your car seat.
Car seat manufacturers carry out crash testing with seats properly installed to ensure that their performance is accurate. Studies have found that over half of car seats are installed incorrectly. This means that car seats are less likely to perform and protect as they are designed, causing the safety of the passenger to be at greater risk. 54% is an astonishing figure, and we’re on a mission to improve that. Diono offers our customers* the opportunity to attend a Virtual 1-2-1 Car Seat Fitting with our Safety Experts. Alternatively we recommend getting your car seat checked out by finding your local Child Passenger Safety Technician.
*Diono.com customers only. Visit Diono.com Difference to find out more.
Harnesses are designed to grow with your child, so don’t forget to check these throughout the year. Common harness mistakes include looseness, twisting and chest clip position. Parents often think that the harness is too tight and will be uncomfortable but in reality, you should not be able to pinch the harness webbing at their shoulder. This is called the pinch test, and we highly recommend you do this before each journey. Look out for any looseness at their hips or chest too! For rear-facing passengers you should see the harness straps coming through the slot below their shoulders. For forward-facing passengers the harness straps should be above their shoulders. Chest clip should always be at arm pit level.
The purpose of the harness is to restrain your child in their seat, much like a seatbelt for adults, and keep them snug and secure. A 5-point harness provides much more protection than a seat belt alone. Infants younger than 1 are between 58-71% less likely to suffer a fatal injury when seated in a harness-based system and by 54-59 percent for 1-4 year olds compared with no restraint, whereas incorrect use can result in serious injury. An often-overlooked part of the harness is the chest clip. When positioned at armpit level it plays an important role in keeping the harness properly positioned over the shoulders. Remember, crash testing results are only reliable when car seats are used properly!
Your car seat manual and your vehicle manual both play a critical role when installing your car seat. After opening the box your car seat came in, the first thing you should do is read the manual. Then read the “Child Safety Seats” (or similar) section in your vehicle manual. They may not be the most exciting things you’ll read in your lifetime, but they will give you the information you need for a safe and secure installation.
Pure and simple, car seat manuals are written based on the results of crash testing and federal car seat safety standards. While every car seat on the market must meet these standards, not every seat installs the same way. Don’t assume that because you’ve installed Brand X seat a million times, Brand Y seat installs the same way. Each step in the manual is there for a reason so make sure and follow them in order as written. Deviating from the instructions, or not following them at all, could put your child at risk for serious injury. And just because something is NOT in the manual don’t assume that it’s ok to do.
Same goes for your vehicle manual. It should provide information on which seating positions can and can’t be used to install a car seat, where the air bags are located, where the lower and top tether anchors are located, and how the seat belts lock. These are all things you need to know to properly install your car seat.
5. Register your car seat
Registering your car seat is an important step that’s often skipped by parents and caregivers. Every new child safety seat comes with a postage paid registration card that only takes a few minutes to fill out and send in. You can also register your seat online.
A recent study by Safe Kids Worldwide found that only 42% of families registered their child’s safety seat. By completing this simple task, you are giving the safety seat manufacturer the ability to contact you in the event of a recall or safety notice. It’s important to note that not all recalls require you to stop using your seat. Sometimes it’s a minor issue like an error on a label, or an issue that is easily repaired with a remedy kit provided by the manufacturer. Registration information is never used for marketing purposes and can only be used to contact you in the event of a recall or safety notice. Registering your seat doesn’t take much time but it goes a long way in making sure your child rides as safe as possible.