After countless hours researching the best car seat for your newborn or high-back booster seat for your toddler, you’ve finally decided on the perfect one. Unboxing it, it is perfectly spotless (that won’t last long) and has that fresh, new car seat smell (again, also won’t last long).
It’s perfect. But what do you do with all those straps? And how does it recline? Is it supposed to be facing the back of the car or the front?
You are not alone in your concerns and questions — but we are here to help!
Parenting Now! is excited to announce a new Car Seat Safety Program, a project made possible through a partnership with PeaceHealth and Safe Kids West Oregon. By appointment or at one of our car seat clinics, certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will show you how to properly install your car seat and position your child to ensure the safest ride possible. Assistance is available in English and Spanish.
Whether your child is 1 day old or 1 year old, it’s always a good time to have your car seat inspected.
As parents, we make mistakes — even when it comes to our children’s safety. Common car seat installation mistakes include:
- Using the incorrect seat for the child’s height, weight, age, or maturity.
- Using a seat that has been in a car accident, recalled or is expired or missing parts.
- Allowing the seat to move side to side and front to back more than one inch across the seat.
- Using covers, head supports, toy bars, and mirrors that are not crash-tested and do not come with the child seat.
When you arrive for a car seat inspection, you should have your seats installed and have the owner’s manual with you. A CPS Technician then will fill out a form to note car seat type, its location in the vehicle, method of installation and any other issues.
The inspection usually takes 20 to 30 minutes. We make sure that before you leave you are confident in your ability to install the car seat correctly. We recommend attending a clinic at least one or two months before a baby is due and when a child is an inch or two away from outgrowing their current car seat.
The CPS Technician will ensure that your car seat is appropriate for your child’s age, height, weight and abilities; review the car seat instructions with you; check the car seat for recalls, expiration date and damage. Finally, we will discuss the next steps for each child, as well as safety in and around the vehicle. If needed, we may be able to replace a seat that is not functional or safe.
While you are waiting for an appointment or clinic, there are things you can do until you get an inspection:
- To find out if your car seat can still be used after an accident or if it is missing parts, contact the manufacturer of the car seat.
- To find out if your car seat is recalled or expired, contact the CPS Technician at Parenting Now! or the manufacturer of the car seat.
- To help keep the car seat from moving side to side and front to back 1-inch or less, make sure the seat belt is locked. If you need help figuring out how to lock your seatbelts, schedule a meeting with the CPS Technician.
Parenting Now! car seat inspections are available by appointment 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays by calling 541-484-5316, and at quarterly drop-in car seat clinics, with the next one from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21; this and the by-appointment checks are held at Parenting Now!, 86 Centennial Loop.
The Eugene Police Department offers monthly clinics at 1705 W. Second Ave., and Safe Kids West Oregon, presented by Northwest Community Credit Union, provides quarterly clinics at various locations in Eugene and Springfield. You can find out more about all of these clinics at www.peacehealth.org/safekids-car-seat-clinics.
Until you can make it to a car seat clinic or an appointment to meet with a CPS Technician, visit the UltimateCarSeatGuide.org to find expert tips on how to choose, install and use car seats.