Despite huge advances in child safety devices, increased toy and baby gear safety, high-tech car seats, and other improvements - accidents are still a leading cause of death and injury in children. While we can't bubble-wrap our kids or prevent every injury - there are many things we can do to keep our kids safe. From stairway gates to prevent falls to electrical outlet covers, there are dozens of little and big ways we can keep our precious children safe.
Most important of all - please buy the safest car seat you can afford. You can save money by skipping the infant seat (most have appalling safety records anyway) and going straight for a convertible seat that can be used as a booster as your child grows. Then have the installation checked by a child car seat expert. According to experts, most of us are installing car seats incorrectly. More than 250,000 children are injured in car accidents each year in the US - and proper car seat use can greatly reduce those numbers. Free car seat checks are often available from fire stations, hospitals, motor clubs (such as AAA) and other community organizations.
Keep your kids in quality booster seats until they are at least 80 pounds (good boosters are now readily available for kids up to 100 pounds or more). Car seat belts are designed for adults and can actually injure children who are so much smaller.
Finally, if at all possible, keep your toddlers riding backwards until they are at the rearfacing weight limit for the seat you own (ours goes to 45 pounds rearfacing). While many parents rush to turn their infants car seats on their first birthday, statistics show that riding backwards is 5 times safer for little ones. Their heads are proportionally heavier than their bodies - and in a sudden stop their little necks are just not strong enough to support that weight. Spinal cord injuries and even broken necks are much more common in frontfacing than rearfacing car seats. This video shows what can happen - thank goodness this little boy survived.