June 5, 2012

Car Seat Inspected

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While we installed a car seat a few weeks ago, it didn’t feel very secure to me. The instructions indicated some movement was normal, but didn’t say how much. I didn’t want to risk Zippy’s safety, so I set up an appointment at our local police station and have our seat and the installation inspected for safety.

I’m so happy we did it! Turns out the base was secure enough, but we didn’t have it in the foot in the right recline position, so it wasn’t as safe as it could be. The police officer showed us how to attach it to the middle seat, something which I thought we couldn’t do on our car. She explained all the ways new parents tend to use the seat incorrectly, and how we could double check that Zippy was secure. Best of all – it was free!

I had previously been told that car seat mirrors aren’t safe, that they could fly off and hurt the baby in the crash. But I have an (irrational?) fear of forgetting Zippy in the car, and really wanted something to help me remember she’s back there. I figured I’d just make sure the mirror was extra securely attached. The police officer explained the problem with the mirror is that most infant car seats (including the one we had) are designed to tilt upward to absorb the impact of a front end collision, which would mean into the mirror. Her recommendation was to go with an angled mirror and have installed to the side – not directly in front of baby.

Since I had completed our registry, we already had the Diono at home. I had purchased it in lieu of the flat mirror alternatives for aesthetic reasons, so I’m glad it was the type of mirror the officer recommended. It’s a bit stiff, but that means it will stay in position without needing to be readjusted. The downside to setting up the mirror on the neighboring seat’s head rest is that they make it difficult to sit in that seat, but you can always unbuckle it if you’re driving multiple people. The driver likely does not need to see the baby in that situation anyway.

I was also curious about window shades. Since we live in California where there is limitations on window tinting, I wasn’t sure window shades, or at least all types of window shades, would be legal. Turns out they are fine, but, the officer recommended pulling the car seat’s canopy down completely so that it is touching the foot of the base to keep baby protected from the sun. She said if we still wanted shades, she recommended window clings rather than shades with stiff poles, as they could fall off the window and smack the baby in the face. Since Zippy’s seat is now installed in the middle of the rear seat, and likely out of direct sunlight, we’ll try the canopy approach first.

(Standard Disclaimer: When it comes to safety don’t take my, or any other bloggers, word for it. If you get your installation inspected by someone – and I recommend it, especially if you can do it for free! – go with the professional’s recommendations!)

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