It’s every parent’s nightmare: You’re traveling in the car with baby and wind up flipping over in a crash. It’s a scenario no one wants to fathom, but one mom’s eye-opening viral post is driving home the importance of being prepared.
Rachel McNamara, a Maine-based mom, posted a side-by-side photo on Facebook earlier this month of her lifting her car seat overhead and then flipping it upside down—with baby in it.
A little scary? Yes, but that’s the point. Because if you get into a car accident, that is how baby’s car seat might wind up—and as McNamara’s striking photo underscores, you want to be doubly sure that baby’s totally secure.
“After strapping your child into their car seat, ask yourself if you’d be comfortable flipping it upside down,” she says on Facebook. “I’m not advocating that parents should be flipping their kids upside down before every car ride. Just that they should feel confident that their child would be safe IF the car seat was flipped over in an accident.”
McNamara’s safety message is an important one. Placing baby in a car seat is step number one—but making sure the seat is correctly installed and baby is safely situated is key. According to AAA’s Safe Seats 4 Kids data, three out of every four car seats are not installed properly.
So what should you keep in mind when putting baby in a car seat?
Carefully read—in full—the instruction manuals for both your car seat and your vehicle before installing the seat.
Babies younger than 2 years old (or those who haven’t reached the highest weight or height allowed by your car seat manufacturer) should be riding in a rear-facing car seat in the back of the car.
If your seat belts don’t have an automatic locking mechanism, get a locking clip to make sure baby is secure in the car seat.
Head to your local NHTSA office to have them double check your car seat installation. They maintain Child Car Seat Inspection Stations in every state to help new parents, and it’s completely free!
Questions? Learn more about the most common car seat mistakes most parents make—and how to avoid them.