Imagine you are new parents and involved in a traffic accident. Are you confident that your infant's car seat is safely installed and that your child is in the proper type of car seat for their size and age? For families throughout the community, these are real questions that need to be asked.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that while 96 percent of parents and caregivers believe their child safety seats are installed correctly, research has shown that 7 out of 10 children are improperly restrained. Most parents spend a lot of time picking out the pattern of the car seat to put on their baby registry, so why not take the time to make sure it's safe for your child?
Programs like car seat safety checks are a community resource that many parents aren't aware of, and help ensure that seats are safely and properly installed. It’s important to make sure that you select your child’s car seat based on their size and age.
Birth – 2 years: Rear-Facing Car Seat
Infants and toddlers should ride in rear-facing car seats until they reach the height or weight limit for the seat, usually 40 pounds, according to the most recently updated recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
2-3 Years: Forward-Facing Car Seat w/ Harness & Tether
Once they are facing forward, your child should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a five-point harness until they reach the height and weight limits for their seats, which is generally around 65 pounds.
4-7 Years: Booster Seat
Continue to keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether until they have reached the maximum weight and height based on the manufacturer’s guidelines. Once they outgrow the forward facing seat, it is time to move to a booster seat.
8-12 Years: Back Seat with Seat Belt
Keep your child in a belt-positioning booster seat until they are big enough to properly fit in a seat belt. This is often when they have reached at least 4 feet 9 inches in height. The seat belt must fit snugly across your child’s shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. It is recommended that your children continue to ride in the back seat until at least until 12 years of age.
Most people think it's easy to simply click a car seat into a car. However, many technicians agree that most if not all car seats are installed incorrectly by consumers. When preparing for your baby, there are so many decisions to make and so many things to think about.
Once you purchase the correct seat for your child, bring your seat in for a safety check. Check with your local healthcare provider or public service organization to see if they offer car seat safety checks or fitting stations.