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Avoiding Car Seat Mistakes?: August 26, 2011

It’s 30 days and counting before baby Scarlet’s arrival. Expectant mom Lauren is working her way through a final checklist.

“Last minute trips to Babies R Us and Target and getting diapers and clothes and washing clothes.”

The only think that hasn’t had much attention: the car seat.

“The bottom part, getting it secure in the car is kind of stressful, because you want to make sure everything’s all right. You don’t want anything to happen to the baby,” says Lauren.

Before mom and baby can go home they’ll have to show that they have a car seat and that it’s safely installed.

A National Highway and Transportation and Safety Administration study showed that first-timers installed their baby seat wrong up to 95% of the time. Liz Moreno is a child safety advocate with The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

“You’ve got to remember the vehicles are made for you and I; they’re not made for the children.”

The number one mistake parents make is to not read both the car seat manual and their car’s manual for correct installation.

“The first thing we find out is what kind of vehicle we have and what year, and anything that is 2002 and higher has what we call the lax system which are anchors,” says Moreno.

Mistake number two is installing the seat too loosely.

“Now how do we know? If the seat is in there nice and tight, it should move no more than an inch from side to side,” says Moreno.

The third biggest mistake is not getting the rear-facing angle correct. It should be 30 to 45 degrees from upright to prevent it from falling forward in a crash.

And number four is putting the car seat too close to the front seat.

“In case we get into a crash what the seats going to do is ride down the impact so this is what the seat’s going to be able to do, so we want to have enough clearance here for the seat to be able to ride down that impact,” says Moreno.

If you have any safety concerns, a professional at the hospital can help.

“It’s definitely something that you don’t want to overlook.”

Because as Lauren knows, there’s a lot riding on it.