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Is Your Newborn's Car Seat Properly Installed? Study Says Probably Not!

Short & Sweet

According to a new study, almost all new parents are making dangerous mistakes installing or securing their newborn babies in their car seats. Here's how to make sure your little one is safe, starting on the ride home from the hospital.

The Lowdown

A frightening statistic emerged from a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics in San Diego: 93 percent of infants are riding in car seats the wrong way!

"If you wanted to create the perfect storm for misuse, this would be it. You take the most vulnerable person you could, a newborn, and the most vulnerable of caretakers, a family that has just had a baby, and you just take them to the door and just say good luck," says Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, the study's lead author and a professor of pediatrics at the Doernbecher Hospital at Oregon Health and Science University.

Over the course of six months, researchers randomly selected and observed 267 mother-infant pairs from the Doernbecher Hospital's mother-baby unit. A certified child passenger safety technician was on hand when the moms, or a designee, installed and/or positioned the newborns in their car seats. Their mistakes were then recorded. Of course, the technician corrected the mistakes before allowing the family to leave the hospital.

Here are the mistakes the technician noted most frequently:

  • The safety harness was not fastened tightly enough 68 percent of the time.
  • The retainer clip was not placed high enough 33 percent of the time.
  • The safety harness was positioned in the incorrect slot 28 percent of the time.
  • The seat was both incorrectly installed and the infant was improperly positioned 70 percent of the time.

The Upshot

If you're a new parent or are about to become one, watch this video from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to properly install a rear-facing car seat. Then read more important tips from HealthyKids.org on how to properly install a car seat and harness a newborn safely.

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