Even though most parents understand the need for using a car seat in their younger children, many children are still unnecessarily injured in car accidents. Among the factors that contribute to these preventable injuries are car seats used incorrectly or not used at all, children being placed in the wrong type of car seat, and moving children out of a car seat or booster and into regular seat belts at too early an age.
The new car seat guidelines from the AAP and NHTSA will hopefully encourage safer use of car seats and booster seats.
Car Seat Mistakes
Learn to avoid common mistakes parents make when placing their child in a car seat.
Transportation Safety Tips:
Are Your Kids LATCHed?
Learn about LATCH, or Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, a new system to make using car seats easier and safer.
Safer Seats: Learn about the newest breed of seating systems that keep kid passengers more secure and makes installation a snap.
Booster Seats: Review why your child should be sitting in a booster seat once he outgrows his car seat.
General Car Seat Safety Tips:
- All children under 13 years of age should be placed in the back seat of the car, especially if you have passenger side air bags.
- Newborns, infants, and todders should be in a rear-facing infant only or convertible seat until they are 2 years old or have outgrown their rear-facing seat. Children who reach the max weight and height limits of their rear-facing seat before their 2nd birthday would likely still be safer facing backwards, and should likely be moved into a rear-facing convertible seat with a higher weight and height limit.
- After they have passed their second birthday, toddlers can use a forward-facing car seat with harness straps, still in the back seat, until they outgrow it.
Keep in mind that many car seats now have 50 to 70 pound weight limits, so kids can be in car seats with harness straps a lot longer than the old practice of switching to booster as soon as kids were 40 pounds.
- Children who have outgrown their car seat with harness straps should be placed into a belt positioning booster seat.
- You should not use your car's regular seat belts until they fit correctly, when your child is 4feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years old. Remember that your child will not be ready to use regular seat belts until the shoulder strap fits across his shoulder and not his neck, and the lap belt fits across his hips and not his stomach.
- Be sure to read the car seat manufacture's instructions and your car owner's manual to be sure that you are installing and using the car seat correctly.
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Car Seat Safety Internet Resources:
- Safety: more safety tips from your Pediatrics Guide at about.com.
- Car Seats: learn more about car seats and keeping your kids safe when they are riding in your car.
- Car Seat Inspector: this Car Seat Inspector can help you choose a car seat and make sure that your child is riding safely in the car.
- Family Shopping Guide to Car Seats: AAP guide to buying a car seat, with a price comparison chart of features and prices of car seats from different manufacturers
- Car Seat Shopping Guide for Children with Special Needs: AAP Guide to finding a car seat for your child with special needs.
- Car Seat Recalls: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's child seat safety recall campaign listing January 1990 through present.
- Child Passenger Safety: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's guide to car seat safety, including information on safety laws, a proper child safety seat use chart, and a one minute safety seat checklist.
- Safety Belt Safe: get help finding the best car seat for your child, includes a frequently asked question list and a technical encyclopedia.
- Carseat Compatibility List: a carseat compatibility list that helps you find out which carseat fits best in each car.
- Car-Safety.Org Vehicle and Carseat Safety: Guide for parents discusses issues about child restraints and carseat safety. Read about the LATCH attachment system, tethers and features for safe cars and car seats.