Car Seat Safety Part 1: First Ride

Car Seat Safety Part 1: First Ride

It’s a moment that can make parenthood real. Your new baby has been in the safe confines of amniotic fluid, and more recently, surrounded by the safe walls of home or hospital. Now your baby is on their first car ride, and you realize that there are thousands of people in cars & trucks zooming past you that don’t even realize, and shockingly don’t even care, that you have a precious new baby in the back seat!

You might nervously sit in the front seat and wonder how your baby is doing so far away and alone in the back seat. You might be sitting right.there.beside her. Your chauffeur may be extra careful to signal well in advance, drive slightly more defensively and maybe slower than normal. This is the first drive of many.

Feelings of concerns for your baby’s safety are justified. Crashes happen. People are still texting, drinking, being distracted and making mistakes behind the wheel. Tires blow, unsecured loads fall off, and drivers fall asleep. Our newer vehicles have so many safety features built in, that we don’t even realize they are there until we need them. Airbags are hidden all over the interior and crumple zones are designed to protect the occupants. We all know about the seatbelt, and that it is extremely effective in reducing injury & death. But seatbelts are designed for the average sized adult man, and many of the airbags too (this is the main reason children under 13 should NOT be in the front passenger seat).

So how do we protect our new, tiny baby today and in the years ahead? The answer is both simple and complicated. Simple: Use a child restraint that fits your child and is installed and used correctly every time. Complicated: How do we know what fits my child? What seat fits in my car? Are expensive seats better? How DO I install my child’s seat correctly? When do we move to the next stage?

There are stats all over saying up to 90% of child restraints are installed incorrectly, so asking a friend that is already a parent, might not give you the correct advice. One infant seat that worked great for your 9lb 22.5” niece might not be the best choice for your 5.5lb 18” bundle of joy. So who can you turn to for advice?

A nationally certified Child Restraint System’s Techician (CRST…or car seat tech), is there to help! Some chose to become techs to complement their day jobs while others of us are just parents wanting to make a difference in our communities. We are passionate about Child Passenger Safety and helping parents & caregivers keep their children safe. Most of us are volunteers and are not compensated by anyone.

What does a car seat tech do?

-We recommend seats! Just because it’s a Rear Facing Only infant carrier, or it says ‘Starting at 5lbs!’, doesn’t mean it will fit a newborn well. We take into account your specific vehicle (make/model/year), if you or your partner is tall or short, whether or not you have other passengers riding along in the back seats and your budget when suggesting a seat.

-We meet with you in person. Go over your vehicle & car seat manuals. We check your install for tightness and correct recline angle. Show you how to install your seat using UAS (lower anchors) or seatbelt. We will show you how to adjust the seat to fit your baby and go over other do’s & don’ts of the infant car seat. Answer any question you have, and if we don’t have the answer we will ask our tech friends if they have the answer! Finally, we will get you to install the seat so you are confident you can do it yourself correctly!

-We explain the best practices for child passenger safety. Most medical associations recommend rear facing until the minimum age of 2, or preferably longer. Ask us why the overwhelming evidence proves this saves lives and significantly reduces injury.

Need help? Have questions?

Find a nationally certified CRST (Child Restraint Systems Technician) near you here!

Find a tech

A great resource is our friends over at Vancouver Island Car Seat Techs. They keep an up-to-date compilation of recommended Canadian car seats. If you don’t see the seat you’ve been eyeing on this list, there’s likely a good reason it’s missing.

Infant Seats

Janice Kampman, CRST

I’m a Fraser Valley based car seat technician, passionate about child passenger safety. I have 4 young kids and usually 5 car seats installed in my van. I love working with people to figure out a 3-across that works for their vehicle, testing fit of car seats in clients vehicles (with my vast collection of seats!) and advising people of what seat would work best for their situation. You can contact me here:

[email protected]

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