Protecting Your Children – The Best Car Seat in Case of a Car Accident
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Common Injuries to Children in Car Crashes
The injuries children can sustain in car crashes can be serious, even life-threatening. Choosing the best car seat in case of a car accident can help prevent some of these injuries from occuring.
- Traumatic brain injuries are the most common injury that children sustain. Traumatic brain injuries range from concussions to brain bleeds. Infants under twelve months are more likely to be knocked unconscious. They are also at high risk for suffering from a concussion. Children over the age of one are more likely to suffer from a skull fracture.
- Thoracic injuries are the second leading injuries that children suffer from. A traumatic brain injury might seem more scary. But a chest injury can hurt your child’s lungs or heart. If your baby is less than a year old, they’re likely to have fractured ribs. The vast majority of children ages one through seven end up with contusions. They also deal with lung lacerations when their chest gets harmed in a car crash.
- Spinal injuries account for over 15% of injuries in car crashes. They don’t happen as often as head or chest injuries. But they still make up a large percentage. Common spinal injuries include vertebral fractures, herniated discs, and spinal and nerve damage. These types of spinal injuries are common from ages one to seven.
- Abdominal injuries are serious. The liver, digestive system, kidneys, and reproductive systems are all in danger. Liver and spleen damage is common for kids under three. Trauma to the small and large intestines is common for older children.
- Injuries to the upper extremities are the next leading injury for kids in car crashes. A broken clavicle or collarbone is common for infants. This is especially so if the accident causes trauma to their upper extremities. Humerus fractures and upper arm fractures are common injuries for older children.
- Injuries to the lower extremities include traumas like a pelvic fracture. Bone fractures are also common since legs aren’t buckled into car seats. Children between the ages of one to seven are more likely to suffer these injuries.
- Injuries to the face are rare. While this is good, they do still happen. Some kids are lucky and have scars in easy-to-hide places. But others are permanently disfigured, with negative, lifelong impact.
- Mental trauma is never any fun. Without a doubt, any type of injury will mentally affect a child. The worse the accident, the more trauma there will be. But even mild crashes can be traumatic. We recommend taking your child to see a counselor if they’re involved in any type of car accident.
Tips to Avoid Accidents
We know you want to see your precious baby’s face in your rear view mirror. It’s a comfort to know that they’re okay in the backseat. But, until your child is old enough to be in a front-facing car seat, this is not OK. For your child’s safety, their car seat should be rear-facing. This means that they should be able to see out the back window.
Additionally, car seats should never go in the front seat. They should always be in the back seat. Transport your child in a car with a backseat for maximum safety. In the event that you must transport your child in a vehicle with no backseat, turn off the airbags.
As your child gets older, they might get tired of being in a car seat. But it’s imperative to keep them in a car seat until they are at least four feet and nine inches tall. You should anticipate keeping your child in their car seat until they are around eight years old. But even with these height and age guidelines, the real factor is how big they are. Once the seat belt fits properly, they’ll be good to go. Buying the best car seat in case of a car accident is only part of the process. Proper installation and knowing when your child is ready for a new seat are also important.
Car Seat Safety Standards
Every car seat on the market has passed a federal inspection. That means it’s safe to transport a child in. But not all car seats are equal. Your best bet is to go with a versatile car seat that can fit into various makes and models. The easier the car seat is to install, the safer it will be. It’s easier to make a mistake during assembly when following difficult directions. Don’t let the price tag fool you, either. A more expensive car seat does not guarantee better safety. Lots of safe car seats are available at reasonable prices.
Before You Go To The Store
Before you go to the store, you’ll need to measure and weigh your child. Their height and weight determine what car seat they should go in. Your child might have sensitivities to different fabrics or materials. If so, you might want to pick a car seat that’s good for sensitive skin.
Measuring your car is another important step to take. Some car seats will be too large to fit into smaller vehicles. Knowing those dimensions will save you time and aggravation. Some stores will allow you to test-install a car seat before you head to the register. But it’s easier to already know if the car seat will fit. This is imperative if you are shopping online and can’t test-install!
If you’re shopping online and on a budget, check the retailer’s shipping policies. If they offer free shipping, you’re good to go. But shipping costs add up fast, especially if the car seat’s weight determines the shipping costs. You’ll also want to check return policies. If the car seat doesn’t work out, you won’t want to be stuck with it.
Finding A Good Fit
Children grow up so fast. While it’s bittersweet, it’s also expensive. There are different types of car seats. Some models are only good for a 40-pound weight range. Other car seats are more versatile and suitable for long-term use. So, it’s important to consider what car seat will be best long-term. Keep in mind that while you can reuse a car seat once a child has outgrown it, car seats do have expiration dates. These are in place to prevent families from using seats that have naturally broken down over time.
Infant Car Seats
These car seats are for bringing your baby home from the hospital. They’re made for the tiniest of babies. They face the rear while you’re driving. They’re perfect for preemies and newborns up to 40 pounds. Your child is likely to become too tall for the car seat long before they reach 40 pounds, though.
If you plan to have a bigger family, investing in an infant car seat is smart. You’ll get multiple uses out of it. But if you only have one child, the infant car seat isn’t the best investment since you can’t use it for very long.
The benefits to having an infant car seat is how easy it is to use. You can remove the base, so it’s easy to move in and out of your car. You’ll want to make sure that the infant car seat is compatible with your stroller. This will save you money in the long run. You can also tote your baby around in the infant car seat.
Convertible Car Seats
A convertible car seat helps convert your child from an infant car seat to a toddler-appropriate seat. In general, this should happen before your child turns one. Convertible car seats also double as infant car seats. They work for infants and babies up to 65 pounds. You can install the car seat as a rear-facing seat. Then, once your baby gets big enough, you can turn reinstall the car seat to be front-facing.
All-in-One Car Seats
The design of the all-in-one car seat is, well, all-in-one. It works for infants, toddlers, and big kids. Many all-in-one car seats can transition to a backless booster seat, too.
Booster seats are appropriate for kids who are too big for a convertible car seat. But they still need more than a seat belt. If your child weighs over 65 pounds, they’re ready for a booster seat.
Booster seats help kids understand how regular seat belts work. This is because the strap on a booster seat goes across the collarbone. Booster seats come in high-back and backless options, so you can choose the model that works best for you. If safety is your top priority, you’ll want to go with the high-back version. They’ll help brace your child against car crash impact. They’re also more comfortable.
Car Seats for Infants
The GRACO SnugRide SnugLock 35 Infant Car Seat works with both seat belts and LATCH systems. It reclines in four different positions. So, it will grow with your baby until they reach 32 inches.
The KeyFit 35 Zip ClearTex Infant Car Seat Reef has a bigger head rest and more leg room for your baby. This gives them more space in the rear-facing position. If you’re an organic or all-natural parent, Chicco’s ClearFex technology will please you. There are no added chemicals in the car seat fabric.
The LiteMax DLX Infant Car Seat with FreeFlow Fabric and SafeZone Load Leg Base comes with telescoping leg support. It also has indicators and no-rethread harness. If you’re looking for a car seat that’s easy to use and comfy for your baby, this is a great choice.
Convertible Car Seats
The Sequence 65 Convertible Car Seat offers easy transition from rear-facing to front-facing. Your baby will have plenty of space as they grow and mature. This car seat also has the Graco ProtectPlus Engineered. That’s a fancy, brand-name way of saying that your baby will have better protection in a car crash.
The EveryStage All-in-One Convertible Car Seat (Crestland) reclines into 10 different positions. It offers great protection in car crashes, even rollovers.
The NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat comes with a removable newborn positioner. This makes the car seat compatible from birth to booster seat. It’s easy to switch this car seat from rear-facing to front-facing, too.
All-in-One Car Seats
The Tri-Ride 3-in-1 Car Seat has three modes. It has a rear-facing harness, forward-facing harness, and highback booster. It’s the only car seat you’ll need for your child.
The Fit4 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat – Carina is designed to last from the day your child is born until they’re 10 years old. It’s designed for use in four stages: infant, toddler, preschool, and big kid. Each stage has height and weight regulations. You’ll know when it’s time to move your child to the next stage.
The Symphony Sport All-in-One Car Seat – Blue Horizon can protect your child until they’re 110 pounds. The best part? You don’t have to re-harness the strap every time you adjust the seat.
The Nautilus 65 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat is designed to grow with your baby. There’s a five-point harness system to protect them 20-65 pounds. The car seat transitions to a belt-positioning booster from 30-100 pounds. Finally, the car seat becomes a backless booster seat once your kiddo hits 40-100 pounds. After they’re 100 pounds, they’ll be ready to buckle in on their own.
The MyFit Zip Air Harness + Booster Car Seat – Q Collection sets you up for success. It has nine headrest positions and a five-point harness system. There’s also foam padding to keep your child comfy.
The Big Kid Highback 2-in-1 Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat will cover you. It has a 90-day warranty and a 30-day return policy. That will come in handy if the car seat is defective or if it doesn’t work out. It’s also easy to transition your child to the backless version of this booster seat once they’re big enough.
While every car seat is safe to an extent, some car seats are better than others. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has Ease-of-Use Ratings to assist you. The following protocols determine ratings.
- Evaluation of Instructions
- Vehicle Installation Features
- Evaluation of Labels
- Securing the Child
All four of these protocols examine how clear the directions are. Easy-to-follow instructions are key for proper car seat installation. Clear labels indicating what goes where will help you avoid mistakes.
Based on these protocols, NHTSA has the following rankings.
- 5 Stars = Excellent features for child restraint
- 4 Stars = Above average features for child restraint
- 3 Stars = Average features for child restraint
- 2 Stars = Below-average features for child restraint
- 1 Star = Poor features for child restraint
- N/A = No features that need a rating
Each of the four categories listed above will have a star rating. Some car seats have all-around five-star ratings. Other car seats range in ratings. For example, a car seat could have a five-star rating for Evaluation of Instructions. But then it could have a three-star rating for Securing the Child. As a parent, it’s up to you to decide which ratings in which categories are most important to you.
Understanding Car Seat Parts
There are many parts to car seats. Understanding these parts is important, or you might not install the car seat the right way. So, we’re laying out the most important terms you should know. Learning these parts will teach you everything you need to know. These terms are listed in alphabetical order for easy scanning.
- Adjustable foot: The adjustable foot refers to the detachable base. You can use the adjustable foot to install the car seat at the correct recline angle. The instruction manual will tell you at what angle to recline the car seat.
- All-in-one seat: This term describes car seats that are for infants, toddlers, and big kids. Convertible car seats are for infants and toddlers up to 65 pounds.
- Automatic locking retractor: You need this piece for proper installation. It’s used to lock the car seat in place. Without it, your child’s car seat could shift, creating a dangerous situation. Your owner’s manual will have more information.
- Belt path: The belt path is where the seat belt or lower anchor attachment secures the car seat to the vehicle.
- Convertible car seat: This car seat is forward facing. It uses an internal harness system to secure your child’s car seat.
- Detachable base: Detachable bases are only part of rear-facing seats. A detachable base allows you to switch the car seat to face forward when your baby is ready.
- Emergency locking retractor: Sudden stops trigger the retractor. It locks the seat belt in place to protect your child. It prevents your child from being thrown forward in a collision.
- Lower anchors: Lower anchors keep rear-facing car seats in place. Lower anchors are in at least two spots on every car seat: the vehicle seat’s back and bottom cushion.
- Tether anchor: The tether anchor is in the vehicle, not on the car seat. It tethers the car seat to the vehicle.
Go through these parts several times until you’re familiar with them. Then you’ll be ready to install your child’s car seat.
Remember that every car seat is federally tested and approved for use on the road. That means that, unless the car seat is broken, it’s safe to a degree. If you’re a bind and can only afford a cheap car seat, rest assured that some protection is there for your child. The best car seat in case of a car accident isn’t necessarily the most expensive. Just because a seat has bells and whistles does not mean it is safer.
With safety in mind, we recommend investing in a high-quality, rear-facing car seat. Why? Because a child seated in one of these models is five times less likely to be killed or sustain serious injuries in a collision. It’s well worth your investment.
We also recommend looking for the following for your child’s safety.
- Five-point harness strap arrangement
- Straps that cross the hips, shoulders, and crotch
- LATCH systems
- Lower Anchors and Tethers
Each of these parts have been proven to help protect children in the event of a crash.
What To Do After a Car Accident
The Journey Ahead
Purchasing your first car seat is the first step to ensuring your baby’s safety. After you’ve installed it, get a professional to make sure you did so properly. Car seat technicians are easy to locate online. Many police and fire stations also hold events to bring in your vehicle to have your car seat installation reviewed.
An extra step you might take is registering your car seat with the manufacturer. This isn’t required by law. But this will ensure that you are aware of any recalls and can protect your child. You can leave it to luck, or you can take the extra step.
We wish you the best as you pick out the best car seat in case of a car accident for your little one. We hope this article has helped you in your research process. Remember that a more expensive car seat doesn’t guarantee that it’s safer. Be sure to purchase a high-quality, age appropriate car seat that has excellent safety ratings. And remember to drive defensively. Paired together, you’ll be keeping your baby as safe as possible.
The best suggestion we can give you is to look for car seats that are easy to install. Yes, you want your baby to be comfortable. But their comfort is meaningless if they’re not protected in a car crash. Look for car seats that use the LATCH system or the seat belt to secure the car seat in the car. Also, look for car seats that are compatible with more than one vehicle. This is important if you get an infant car seat and drive more than one car. Trust us, you’ll want to have a car seat that’s easy to install and easy to move around.
Not necessarily. If you want to buy a popular brand like Graco, Chicco, or Evenflo, you’ll be paying for the brand name. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it doesn’t guarantee more safety.
No. Please don’t buy a used car seat. For all you know, the car seat might be defective or broken. It can be hard to tell at first glance. But if you’re in a car crash, it could be the difference between life and death.
The only time a used car seat is ever OK is if it’s a hand-me-down from a close friend or family member. If you go this route, take your car to a police station. Ask them to inspect the car seat to make sure it’s properly installed. They’re trained to detect if something is wrong. That way, you’re saving money and keeping your baby safe.
That depends. Sometimes Amazon, Walmart, or similar retailers will have the same car seat at a better price. Before you make your purchase, see if the car seat comes with the same warranty and return policy.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approves all car seats. If you’re shopping via a major retailer, you can rest assured that the car seat is safe enough to use. You can visit NHTSA’s website for more information. This is a good idea if you want to know about their standards and safety protocols.
Convertible car seats are good from your baby’s first car ride until they’re ready for a booster seat. An all-in-one car seat can be used from the time your baby is an infant until they no longer need a car seat.
Great question. Infant car seats are only for infants. They are safe to use until your baby hits 40 pounds. Then it’s time to move your baby to a convertible car seat. Whereas, if you start with a convertible car seat, you can use it until your child is ready for their booster seat.
If your plan is to only have one child, it would make more sense to buy the convertible car seat. You’d get more bang for your buck that way. However, an infant car seat would be useful if you have two or more kids. Once your oldest child is ready for a convertible car seat, you can put your youngest in the infant car seat. While it’s a bad idea to sell a car seat, there’s nothing wrong with a hand-me-down in your immediate family.
A convertible car seat is for infants, too. Most convertible car seats come with an insert to accommodate infants. Then the insert is removable for when your baby grows into a toddler. This car seat will work until your child is ready for a booster seat. When the time is right, the car seat can be turned around to face the front of the car.
An infant car seat is small. You can get the kind of car seat that’s detachable. That allows you to use the car seat as a car seat or a carrier. It’s only good while your baby is little. They’ll outgrow it quickly. But like we explain in the article and in question #4, it has its pros.