Car Seat Safety Tips
Car seats and booster seats provide protection for infants and children. Many children are saved by car seats every year, but car crashes remain a leading cause of death for children ages 1 through 13. That is why it is so important to understand car seat safety and choose the correct car seat, the correct way, for your child.
There are four types of car seats, and depending on your child’s height, weight and age, how they sit in your car will also change. Make sure that you use a car seat that fits your child’s current size and age. Not all car seats fit in all vehicles, so make sure the car seat is right for your car. Test the seat you plan to buy to ensure it fits well and it can be installed and used correctly every time!
Rear-facing car seat
Rear-facing car seats are the best and safest option for your young child to use. It is recommended to keep your child rear facing for as long as possible. These seats have a harness, and, in a crash, cradle and move with your child to reduce stress to the child’s fragile neck and spinal cord. There are three types of rear-facing car seats.
- Infant car seat
First is the infant car seat, which is rear facing only. It is specially designed for newborns and small babies. It is small and portable. Most babies outgrow this seat before their first birthday. When that happens, it is recommended by the National Highway Transportation Safety Association that a “convertible” or an “all-in-one" seat be purchased and used rear facing.
- Convertible car seat
The second type of rear facing car seat is the convertible seat. This seat can change from a rear-facing to a forward-facing seat as the child grows. It should have a harness and a tether, allowing children to stay in the rear facing position longer.
- All-in-one car seat
Finally, is the all-in-one seat, named so because it can change from a rear-facing to a forward-facing seat (with a harness and tether) and then to a booster seat as a child grows. It allows children to stay in the rear-facing position longer because it can be used with children of many sizes.
Forward-facing car seat
Forward-facing car seats should have a harness and tether to limit your child’s forward movement during a crash. There are three types of forward-facing seats.
- Convertible seat
First is the convertible seat, which can change from a rear facing to a forward-facing seat as your child grows.
- Combination seat
Second is the combination seat which transitions from a forward-facing seat into a booster seat.
Last in this category is the all-in-one seat, which can change from a rear-facing seat to forward facing seat and to a booster seat as the child grows.
The purpose of the booster seat is to raise and position a child so that the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt fits properly over the strong points of a child’s body, the hips and across the chest. All children whose weight and height exceed the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly. Typically, this is until the child reaches 4 feet 9 inches in height and is 8 to 12 years of age.
There are four types of booster seats:
- High back booster seat
First is the high back booster seat, which is designed to boost the child’s height so the seat belt fits properly. It also provides neck and head support and is ideal for vehicles without head rests or high seat backs.
- Backless booster seat
Second is the backless booster seat, also designed to boost the child’s height so the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly. It does not provide head and neck support, but it is ideal for vehicles that have head rests.
- Combination seat
Third is the combination seat, which can transform from a forward-facing seat with a harness into a booster seat as the child grows.
- All-in-one seat
Fourth is the all-in-one seat, which changes from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat to a booster seat as the child grows.
Seat belt position and children
Wearing a seat belt is one of the most important safety features in a vehicle. But proper usage is key! To safely restrain children that are 4 feet 9 inches and taller in a crash, the seat belt should lie across the upper thighs and be snug across the shoulders and chest. It should not rest on the stomach area or across the neck or face. Also, it should not be placed behind the child’s back or under the arms. The back seat is the safest place for children under 13 years of age with their seat belt worn correctly.
Want more tips, advice and car seat installation assistance?
If you are still unsure or would like your child’s car seat and installation inspected, make an appointment with a certified car seat technician. It is free of charge; just call and make an appointment.
Certified specialists are located at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport, Louisiana State Police Troop G, Bossier Parish EMS, Caddo Sheriff’s Safety Town with Shreveport Police Department, the Shreveport City Marshalls Office (Training Center) and at Desoto Parish EMS. You can also visit online at SafeKids.org to find an inspection station or a technician and at NHTSA.gov for child safety passenger events. Healthychildren.org has current car seat product listings with weight limits, height limits and prices for each car seat model. Remember to register your car seat so that you can be notified of any recalls and safety notices from the manufacturer.
Please note: Due to COVID-19, some locations might not be offering car seat installations at this time. It's recommended you call prior to arriving onsite for current safety practices and guidelines regarding COVID-19.