Car Seats

Overview:

Car accidents are one the most common causes of death in infants, children and teenagers.  The severity of injury is greatly reduced by proper use of car seats, booster seats and seat belts.  Below is information on the proper use, fit and safety of car seats.

Safety:

No specific car seat is the best or safest.  The best seat is the one that fits your child’s size, is correctly installed and is used properly every time you drive.  All car seats sold in the United States must meet the safety standards established by the federal government.  Car seats should always be used in the back seat of the car.  For car seats to function properly and thus be safe the seat must be buckled tightly into your car and your child must be buckled tightly into the seat.

Types of Car Seats:

  • Rear facing – only approved for use in infants and young toddlers, may not be used forward facing
  • Convertible – a rear or forward facing car seat, height and weight limits depend on the position of the car seat
  • Forward Facing – only approved for toddlers and children who are old enough and large enough to face forward
  • 3-in-1 – a car seat that may be rear facing, forward facing or a booster seat depending on age and size
  • Booster seat – a seat meant for school aged children to allow the seatbelt to fit properly across you child’s chest and provide the best protection
  • Features to consider –Multiple harness slots, adjustable buckles and shields, angle indicator for your child’s head position

Regulations and Recommendations:

Regulations for car seat depend on your child’s age, height, weight and the specific car seat.  It is important to keep your car seat manual for future reference to ensure you’re using the car seat correctly. 

Infants and Toddlers
  • Rear facing car seats should be used until your child is at least 2 years of age or exceeds the maximum height and weight limit of your car seat.
Toddlers and Preschool Age Children
  • A forward facing or convertible forward facing car seat should be used until your child reaches the maximum height and weigh requirements for the car seat.
School Aged Children
  • Booster seats should be used until your child is 4 feet 9 inches tall and between the ages of 8-12.Children 12 and under should always ride in the back seat
Teenagers
  • Children over age 13 may ride in the front seat according the AAP guidelines
Information on height and weight limits for car seats by brand and position of car seat from the American Academy of Pediatrics. 
 
 

Takeaway Message:

The proper use and installation of car seats saves lives.  Your child’s age, height and weight determine the safest position for them in a car.  All car seats sold in the United States are safe, so the best car seat is the one that serves your needs best and is used properly.

Important Additional Information:

There is a lot of information online about car seats.  Here are a few  helpful resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  One additional website from the NHTSA.