One car seat mistake that almost all parents make

One car seat mistake that almost all parents make

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One car seat mistake that almost all parents make: they don't read the car seat manual.

There is so much to learn about using your child's car seat properly, and it is all addressed in the manual.

Despite popular belief, all car seats don't have the same rules. Some things are universal, like children should be rear-facing until they exceed the maximum height and weight limits for the rear-facing position of their car seat, usually around the age of 4. But there are many manufacturer-specific directions for each car seat that you can easily and quickly learn from your car seat manual.

And did you know that many manufacturers post their car seat manuals online? You can find answers to many installation and usage questions easily on the manufacturers' website. In less than a minute I found the car seat manuals for Nuna, Britax, and Graco. As a bonus, many manufacturers also share instructional videos which is very useful, especially to a first-time parent.

Here are a few tips I have:

1. Read the car seat manual. It's so simple to do, and so important. When you're done, stick it in the backseat pocket of your car for easy access. Just like you leave the car manual in the car, the car seat manual should be too. I have looked something up many times, and if someone else takes your child out in your car they will have easy access to it too.

2. Watch the car seat manufacturer's instructional videos. When I first tried to use the LATCH system I had a hard time figuring out how to configure the seat properly. A 2-minute video clarified the instructions for me.

3. Email yourself a copy of the car seat manual. I have done this with all our car seat manuals (they add up when you have four children!) and keep them in an email folder called "important kid documents." You can find them the manuals most manufacturer's sites and then you can either email yourself a link or print to PDF and then email yourself a copy.

4. Fill out the warranty card so you will be notified of any recalls. Those little cards that come attached to your car seat are important for more than just the warranty. When you send them in the company then has a record should they need to contact you for any recalls or issues with your seat.

Reading your car seat manual is such an easy thing to do. Do it! It will answer your questions and help you use your child's car seat safely and properly.

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

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