• Buckling Up Your Baby

    Child safety seats, strollers and carriers

    Whenever you head out, whether you’re driving or walking, it’s important to securely fasten your baby into the car seat, stroller or infant carrier.

    Strollers and baby carriers

    Injuries from strollers and carriers

    You might be surprised to learn there are more than 17,000 stroller- and carrier-related injuries each year, usually caused by children falling out of strollers or being injured when they tip over.

    These accidents often cause scrapes, bumps and bruises. But many children injured – actually about 25% of stroller injuries and 35% of carrier injuries – wind up being treated for concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.

    Safety tips for strollers and carriers

    To keep the risk of an infant stroller or carrier accident low, follow these tips:

    • Make sure your child is always buckled in properly.
    • Don’t hang purses, bags or heavy other items on stroller handles. They can – and often do – cause strollers to tip over.
    • Lock the wheels when you aren’t moving so the stroller doesn't roll off.
    • Don't let children push the stroller. It’s a recipe for disaster.
    • Don’t put your child in a carrier on a table or other high spot. And never leave a baby on a table unattended, whether the child is in a carrier or not.

    Baby and child car safety seats

    Injuries related to car seats

    During 2014 alone, 602 children under age 13 died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S., and more than 121,350 were injured.

    Many of those deaths and injuries could have been prevented.

    In fact…

    …studies show a 67% reduction in the risk of serious injuries when children ride in well-fitted, properly installed car seats.

    Make sure your seat is secure – ask an expert

    Though many people don’t know this, you can visit a local fire, rescue squad or highway patrol station to make sure the car seat is installed properly.

    Just call first to ask if the station offers this service and, if so, to find out when the experts will be there so you don’t waste a trip.

    Car safety tips

    To better protect your child when you’re on the road, follow these tips:

    • Keep infants in rear-facing seats until age 1. And consider keeping your child in a rear-facing seat through age 3, even if state law allows forward-facing seats for those who are younger. Evidence shows the rear-facing seats are the safest option for very young children, so don't be in a big rush to switch.
    • Have children ride in the middle or back seat, especially those younger than 12 or who weigh less than 90 pounds. These positions in the car are generally safer. Also, front air bags, because they deploy with so much force, can be dangerous to children.
    • Install the child safety seat in the center of the seat, if possible. This provides additional protection in the event of a collision on either side. Of course, this will depend on how many other children need to ride in the car, whether the belt and buckle in the middle are compatible with your seat and other factors.
    • Most importantly, be sure the safety seat is installed correctly. Yes, we already touched on this above, but it’s important enough to repeat. The best-rated safety seat around won’t provide much protection flopping around the back car seat because it wasn’t properly secured. If the safety seat rocks or moves, it hasn’t been installed correctly.
    • Children who weigh 40 to 80 pounds should use a booster. The advantage of a booster seat is it helps ensure the adult seat belt is positioned over the shoulder more effectively for the child’s safety and comfort.
    • Seat belts and safety straps should fit snugly against your child. Just as it’s important to secure the safety seat in your car so it doesn’t move around, it’s important to make sure your child is secure in the seat.

    State laws for child safety seats – know what’s required in your state

    Every state has different age, height and/or weight requirements for when child safety seats must be used.

    Fines for non-compliance in Virginia and Tennessee, as of 2016, are $50, and fines in states such as North Carolina can be significantly higher. Also, some states, including Tennessee, require children up to age 8 to be in booster seats.

    The Governors Highway Safety Association provides a summary of child passenger safety laws by state.

    When you travel out of the area, be sure to check the requirements for the states you’ll be travelling through.

    Other things to consider

    Is your child too heavy or light – or too short or tall?

    Check the recommended weight and height ranges for your car seat, stroller or carrier.

    If your child is too light or heavy for the one you have, you should find another option.

    Seats made for a newborn don’t usually work for a toddler, and vice versa. And something that works for a toddler won’t do the trick for a 7 or 8 year old.

    Don’t trust your child’s safety to a device that was made for a smaller or larger child.

    Check for recalls.

    Search online or contact the manufacturer to see if there have been any recalls on your car seat, stroller or carrier, especially if it’s an older one you used with another child or got from a friend.

    Problems can range from faulty parts – such as latches and buckles – to weak frames to flammable materials.

    The U.S. Department of Transportation has a list that lets you search car seat recalls by manufacturer, and other sites also list recalls for seats, as well as strollers, carriers and other products.

    Sometimes a recalled product can be fixed with a simple solution that’s available free from the manufacturer. If a fix isn’t available and the recall is serious enough, they might replace the entire unit at no charge.

    And if there aren’t any known problems with the device, you’ll have greater peace of mind having checked.

    Worst case – even if you’re stuck with the bill for something new, at least you won’t be relying on a faulty product for the safety of your precious little one.

    You can learn more about the pregnancy and birthing care available at Wellmont.

    *According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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