Car seats specifically designed for newborn babies are usually fitted with a padded insert.
A newborn insert is like a little pillow that sits under your baby’s back and provides extra cushioning around her head and body.
Newborn inserts are designed to keep your baby as safe as possible.
So it’s not uncommon for new parents to wonder when to take newborn insert out of car seat?
Newborn babies can be too small to fit safely into a car seat without the extra padding a newborn insert provides.
As babies get bigger, they outgrow the newborn insert. That’s the reason the newborn insert is removable.
For safety purposes, though, it’s important not to take the insert out too early.
When to take newborn insert out of car seat
All new car seats come with an instruction manual.
This manual includes details about how to install and use your car seat correctly. It will also have information about when you can safely remove the newborn insert from the car seat.
The information is usually based on your baby reaching a certain weight or length. Depending on the brand of your car seat, the recommendations might vary a little.
Do you have to use the infant insert in car seat?
If you don’t use the infant insert that comes with your car seat, it can cause your baby to sit too low in the seat. This means the harness won’t be adjusted correctly.
If you do not use the car seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you’re potentially putting your baby’s safety at risk.
Think about how carefully you support your baby’s head when you are holding her. A newborn insert helps support your baby’s head when you’re driving.
The recommendations for how to use your car seat are important.
The insert keeps your baby safe in the event of an accident. It also ensures your baby’s head is in a position which prevents her slumping forward and potentially blocking her airways.
Convertible car seats
If you have a convertible car seat, you can turn your child’s seat from rear-facing to forward-facing. When you turn the seat to face forward, you must remove the newborn insert.
It’s legal to change your child’s car seat to a forward-facing position once the child has reached 6 months of age. However, many experts advise against this.
Rear-facing is the safest position for your child to be in should you be involved in a car accident.
Research into the safety of car seats has found children up to the age of almost two years are about 75% less likely to be seriously injured or killed when they are in a rear-facing car seat, rather than a forward-facing one.
For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children remain rear-facing in their car seats until they are two years old.
Some parents are convinced their babies hate being in the car. Even short trips can result in inconsolable crying. This can be upsetting and stressful for a parent. It also makes it hard to concentrate on driving if you are worrying about your baby’s cries.
Parents might be tempted to try to adjust something in the car seat they think is bothering their little one. It’s important always to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Don’t remove the infant insert or turn your baby from rear to forward-facing before it’s recommended to do so.
If your baby is upset and you’re stressed out every time you have to get in the car to go somewhere, there’s help.
BellyBelly has practical advice for getting through these upsetting moments in the article Baby Hates The Car Seat? 9 Survival Tips.
What if I don’t have a manual or my car seat is second hand?
Generally speaking, it’s usually safe to remove the infant insert in the car seat once your baby is around 6 months old.
You might be able to tell, just by looking, that your baby has outgrown the newborn insert.
Your baby might look as though she’s being squished into the seat, or perhaps it’s become more difficult to get her head into a comfortable position.
Once your baby outgrows the newborn insert, it could be harder to get her in or out of the car seat, or difficult to adjust the straps correctly.
Once you remove the newborn insert, check your baby’s shoulders meet the guidelines marked on the seat.
Make sure you readjust the harness to fit securely.
It’s also wise to note car seats have an expiry date. This is usually around 6 years from the date of manufacture.
The reasons they have an expiry date are:
- General wear and tear
- Advances in design and technology
- Crash test statistics
- Improved functionality and safety.
Although a secondhand car seat might seem like a money saving idea in the short term, a car seat that meets correct safety standards is a worthwhile investment.
Can you use any infant insert in a car seat?
If the insert didn’t come with the car seat, then don’t use it.
Using padded head supports that aren’t designed specifically for your car seat, or improvising with rolled-up blankets or towels can be dangerous.
If you aren’t sure your baby is positioned correctly, seek advice from a child restraint fitter. These professionals are trained and accredited in installing car seats to correct safety standards.
Which side of the car should the baby seat be on?
Your baby should be placed in the safest part of the car. To protect her from injuries, in case of a collision, your baby should be correctly harnessed into a rear-facing car seat, in the rear of your car.
It’s highly recommended you install the car seat in the middle of the rear of your car. This is because it’s the furthest from both sides in the event of a side collision.
Car seats and new cars are well designed to withstand side impacts so, if necessary, use the passenger side for your car seat. This makes it easier for you to be off the road while getting your baby in and out of the car.
Get your car seat checked
Even if you’re fairly sure you’ve installed your car seat correctly, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Statistics show that although around 96% of parents believe they’ve installed their car seat correctly, around 75% of children are found to be incorrectly restrained.
As mentioned previously, there are certified professionals who can fit your car seat properly for you.
If they check it, and find you have already installed it correctly, that’s great!
If some adjustments are needed, then you can leave with peace of mind, knowing your baby is travelling as safely as possible.