Of course car seat safety is crucial during all months, but there are certain things that must be considered for the colder winter months ahead, especially with so many of us traveling for the upcoming holidays. The busiest of all traveling days are the day before Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve. With an influx of drivers on the roads, car seat safety is very important for you and your family.
First, WHY is car seat safety so important beyond simply purchasing a “safe” seat? It is vital to note that car seat safety standards are tested to be safe when your child’s safety seat is used correctly. Unfortunately, many parents are simply told which car seat is rated as the safest, and the education stops there. What makes a car seat safe is not only the car seat itself, but how it is used with your child in it. Proper strap location, length and tightness are crucial in safety efficacy. However, what is under the strap is just as important.
Bulky jackets are certainly beneficial when it is cold outside, but unfortunately they substantially decrease the effectiveness of safety provided by the car seat. It is amazing how much extra room is created by having a bulky jacket, and essentially putting the child at a great risk if an accident were to occur. What is a good solution to this? A lightweight, single-layer, waist-length, form-fitting fleece jacket and hat are very safe to wear with a car seat and are very warm. Having blankets in the car to place over the straps instead of under the straps for extra warmth allows the car seat to be working as it was designed to as well.
If you are traveling during the holiday season, have your car seat checked by the Super Car Seat Geeks. These two wonderful ladies are Child Passenger Safety Technicians, i.e. car seat techs trained to make sure your child is as safe as possible for those long rides. It will give the parents peace of mind and can potentially increase the child’s comfort. It is also important to note that allowing your child to get up and move around every hour or so can be very beneficial for long car rides. If you are traveling by plane, buy your child their own seat and do not check their seat with luggage - use it!
It is also important, especially in long travels, to take notice of your child’s neck placement. Often times their little heads will slouch over to one side in a deep slumber. This position is alright as long as it is not for hours at a time, as we can see torticollis induced by sitting too long in a car seat. A specific position to be avoided is the chin-to-chest positions in younger infants, because a child who is not yet able to support their own head can suffer from positional asphyxia. It is very important, for safety and for their spine’s structural integrity, to have their head in a neutral position. This is another reason of why it is important to take breaks during longer car rides. Engaging your child to look straight ahead can be done by placing things at their eye-level, avoiding mirrors or hard objects. Do not use anything in, around or under the seat that didn't come with the seat in the seat's box. We are seeing Anterior Head Syndrome occurring younger and younger in our patients, as children are having access to tablets, phones, and other electronic devices that frequently require looking down more than ever before. For every inch of forward head posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional ten pounds (Dr. Adalbert Kapandji, Physiology of Joints). Instead of having them in this compromised position and affecting their spinal integrity while in the car (or anywhere for that matter!), having it just above eye-level can help substantially and engage the correct neck muscles for proper spinal stability.
When used correctly, car seats are designed to protect your child’s spinal integrity if ever they were in a car accident. Take the time to ensure that you are using the correct car seat, booster seat, etc for your child and not only focusing on their age range, but their weight and height as well. The women of Super Car Seat Geek are trained on the latest car seat safety standards, very knowledgeable and helpful to parents around the Lehigh Valley, and can give you peace of mind that your children are safe in the car seat that you have invested in for your child’s protection. Just like your health, it is crucial to be proactive about your child’s car seat safety.
Premier Chiropractic wishes everyone the healthiest and safest of travels during this holiday season!