Sunday, July 20, 2008

Car Seat Craziness

One of our last big crumpet-prep tasks was getting the car seat installed. As I have been telling patients and parents many times a day for the last month, car accidents are the #1 safety threat to kids of any age!

The way that most infant car seats work these days is that they come in two parts, a padded carrier and a plastic base that the carrier clips into. The base gets installed into the car, and then the carrier-with-baby can be quickly taken in and out without needing to deal with positioning and tightening each time. Like many families, we actually bought an extra base, so that we can have one in each car.

So, how complicated can it possibly be to install an infant carseat?

FAR more complicated than you would imagine. Despite (or perhaps because of) all the diagrams and instructions that come with the seat and with the car. And also because our cars are old enough so that we are using the seatbelts, not the newer, simpler LATCH system that is built into more modern models.

But one evening this past week, we took the seat and bases out into the yard, flipped over and over again through the pages of directions, and cinched everything into the cars. Here is Alex working on one of the bases:

Then, yesterday, we took both cars over to the hospital to get our installation checked by the car seat guru. It turns out that, though we'd basically done a good job with the base in Alex's car, his center seatbelt actually has a self-locking mechanism that we didn't know about that makes the installation more secure.

She also ended up moving the base in my car from the center-rear position to one of the side-rear positions. The center rear position is the safest (farthest from any impact) IF you can get a good fit there, but the center belt was not snugging the carseat properly.

We also practiced buckling and unbuckling a doll, learning the right position and tension for the harness straps. Overall, I am feeling much less nervous about the first time we put the crumpet in the carrier!

So, the moral of the story—which I will make sure to share with all of my patients—is that everyone should get their carseats checked over by a trained person! Maybe I, or someone on staff in my eventual practice, can be trained to do this, because it would be a very valuable service to offer.

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