Car seats save lives, but they can only do their job if they’re the right size and style. It’s important to know the guidelines, as they do change, to ensure your child is as safe as they can be inside a vehicle.
Here is the latest guidance from the CDC:
Rear-Facing (Birth - 4)
Infants and toddlers should be in a 5-point harness rear-facing car seat in the back seat until they reach the maximum height and weight limits of the seat.
After outgrowing the rear-facing car seat, children should be placed in a size-appropriate forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness until they reach the maximum height and weight limits of the seat.
Booster Seat (5 - 12)
After outgrowing the forward-facing car seat, children should be placed in a size-appropriate booster seat with a seat belt properly positioned through the seat until they’re able to wear a seat belt properly across their upper thighs (not stomach) with the shoulder belt centered across the shoulder and chest (not the neck or off the shoulder). For some children, this may not happen until they’re 9-12 years old.
Seat Belts (12+)
Once they no longer need a booster seat and can properly buckle the seatbelt as prescribed, they will no longer need a booster seat, but they should still sit in the backseat for safety. Just a reminder that seatbelts can vary for placement dependent on the vehicle, so it’s possible that they may need a booster seat in one vehicle but not another.
Always install a car seat per the manufacturer’s recommendations. This will keep your child as safe as possible, in case of impact. Not sure if you’re doing it right? Most fire stations will install them for you, or show you how. Make sure any adult who will drive your child around knows how to adjust the seat, as they will require occasional readjustment because of normal use.
- Never install a car seat in the front seat, as front passenger airbags can severely injure or kill a young child on impact.
- Do not use a second-hand car seat unless you know it has not been in an accident. Even if the child survived, the impact will compromise the integrity of the car seat.
- Also, check the expiration date! They do expire!
Stay safe! And come by Phil’s Auto Service for any auto repair and advice.