'She was ejected from her car seat': Mum's warning about baby seat accessory

"She was ejected from her seat". Mum's warning about car seat accessories.
"She was ejected from her seat". Mum's warning about car seat accessories. Photo: Facebook/Hannah McKinney

A mum whose two-month-old baby was thrown from her car seat in an accident, is warning parents not to use unnecessary accessories on baby seats.

Hannah McKinney of Oaklahoma, took to Facebook to share details of her family's terrifying ordeal, explaining that sheepskin seat belt covers on her daughter Robin's seat, had placed her little one's life at risk.

"PSA to all parents and soon-to-be parents," she wrote. "These were on my two-month-old daughter's car seat when she was involved in a flip over car accident."  Ms McKinney described that the vehicle cart wheeled twice before resting on its side.

"[Robin] was ejected from the seat due to the sheep skin seat belt covers," she wrote. "When we got to the vehicle all straps were tight and in tact plus car seat still in base still attached to seat but with the force of the vehicle the sheep skin slid against her shirt and made her go flying out."

Issuing a plea to parents not to put anything additional on a car seat "that did not come that way from the manufacturer," the mum admitted that they had learnt this lesson the hard way.

"I thank god everyday that he had his hands on her!" Ms McKinney wrote. "They may look cute and it may be soft but for your child's safety don't do it."

Fortunately, little Robin sustained only a hairline fracture on her upper arm.

In their advice on child car seat safety, Product Safety Australia states that parents should: "Try and avoid accessories and attachments which may impact on the safe use of the restraint."
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The National Guidelines for the Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles, developed by KidSafe and Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) offer more detailed guidance.
They note: "Child restraint accessories that are not either supplied with a restraint, recommended by the manufacturer, or certified for use with a specific restraint under AS/NZS 8005 are not recommended."
Why? According to the guidelines, if they move or are dislodged "accessories can introduce slack or looseness into the straps that secure the restraint to the vehicle or the child to the restraint." This then increases the forces on a little one's body in an accident, increasing their risk of injury.
This includes: 
  • Seatbelt positioners - (A booster seat is safer)
  • Buckle covers and other devices to stop a child from escaping from a restraint. 
  • Add-on chest clips designed to prevent the child from removing his/her arms from the harness that are not supplied with the restraint or certified under AS/NZ 8005. 
  • Belt tensioners and other fitting accessories that actively tighten the seatbelt.
  • Seat belt extenders which position the buckle over, rather than beside, the child or introduce slack into the belt.
  • Rigid toys or entertainment accessories which can be contacted by a child or can fly off and hit other car occupants.
  • Sun shades or insect nets which cover the child and restraint. 
The guidelines also specify that "objects such as blankets, wraps and padding inside the harness of the child restraint make the harness too loose and the child can come out of the restraint in a crash.
"Extra padding behind the head can push the head forward, and expose it to injury in a side impact. Anything that is near the neck can pose a strangulation risk or restrict breathing."