Would you trust your child with something being used incorrectly 59% of the time? I know I wouldn’t. Yet many of us do. That 59% comes from cases of children’s car seats being used incorrectly. While many of our kids loathe those seats, they are in the car to keep them safe. Children are not grown up enough yet to sit in the front or without a booster seat. That’s why car seats were made and provide protection. However, car crashes are the leading cause of death in children ages 1-13. In order to get that number much lower, it’s important to choose the correct seat for them as well as installing it correctly. As much as the kids can scream and complain about how its, “for babies”, its critical we step in and help them understand the importance of car seats.
So, you’ve come back from the hospital, fresh baby in your arms. After all the excitement and visits from grandparents, sleepless nights and frantic internet searches about what kind of soap to use on them; its finally time to take them for a car ride. What kind of car seat do you use? Basically, there are four levels of car seats, we’ll go through each one to see what fits your needs best.
Now, lets take a look at the seats:
Birth – 12 Months
Rear-Facing Car Seat
Children under one year of age should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are many seats on the market but make sure it specifies it is for rear-facing. Some seats are designed to allow some extra “growing room”. This lets your child stay in this seat longer instead of replacing the seat once he reaches the weight limit. Its up to your own personal preference which one you want. Always be sure to read up on the reviews, specifications and suggestions of different seats. Cheaper is not always the best option, look for quality and safety ratings.
It’s important to keep your child facing the back of the car as long as you possibly can. Once they reach the height and weight requirements you can start thinking about moving them to a forward-facing seat. Be sure to check your states requirements as well as the seat manufacturing company’s suggestions.
1 – 3 Years
Forward-Facing Car Seat
For the first 1-3 years its best to keep your child facing the rear of the car for as long as possible. Once they reach their height/weight limit you can start thinking about moving to forward facing.
Once your child hits the 4-7-year-old age you can start working on getting them into a forward-facing car seat. These seats have harness’s and give a little bit more freedom. Some kids will complain at this stage as they think they’re “big kids” and want to sit on the regular seat. It’s important as parents to enforce proper safety rules and WHY it’s important they need this seat. Eventually your child will be ready to upgrade to the booster seat. No matter what seat they are in, they should always be in the back seat of the car. The front of the car is not for children, even with the airbags turned off.
Now it’s time for your kid to graduate to the bigger kid seat. While they still might not enjoy having a booster seat, its defiantly better than a car seat. Let them know this is for their safety and they need to wait just a little longer until they can safely sit without the booster.
Once they are big enough to move up to a belt it’s important to check if it’s really time. The belt should fit snug across their thighs, not on their stomach. The shoulder part of the belt needs to cross the should and chest. Make sure it does not touch their neck or face, if it does they are not ready to sit without a booster.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA has created a fantastic Car Seat Ease-Of-Use Ratings
This page allows consumers to compare different features for car seats and allows them to make decisions for their children’s safety.
Using the Car Seat Finder, you can input age, height, and weight to see their recommendations for a seat.
Quick rundown of the NHTSA Rating
- 5 Star = Excellent
- 4 Star = Above Average
- 3 Star = Average
- 2 Star = Below Average
- 1 Star – Poor
- N/A Does not contain any features for rating.
For more on NHTSA and their great content be sure to check out their site here:
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