Buckle Up: What You Need to Know About Car Seat Safety
Car seat safety is one of the most important things parents should consider before taking a child in the car. Many parents make the mistake of not installing the car seat correctly or not staying updated on what type of seat should be used as your child gets older. Read on to see what kind of seat your child should be using and find out what local resources can help you ensure safety.
What Car Seat Should We Be Using?
There are so many care seats to choose from – it can seem impossible to stay up to date on what seats are appropriate for what age. Many parents transition their children too early or don’t use booster seats when they should be. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind:
- Infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the maximum height or weight noted by the manufacturer, or until they are at least 2 years of age, whichever comes first.
- Toddlers and preschoolers who have outgrown a rear-facing car seat should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they reach the maximum height or weight specified by the manufacturer.
- School-aged kids who have outgrown a front-facing car seat should use a booster seat that positions the seat belt properly until they are 4’9” or taller. This recommendation typically applies to kids between the ages of 8 and 12, but all children under the age of 13 should always ride in the back seat.
- Older children who are large enough for the seat belt to be positioned properly without a booster seat should always use the lap and shoulder belts for maximum safety.
This simple graphic can help you best determine the car seat type your child needs at each stage of life.
What Specific Things Should I Look for in a Car Seat?
There are so many different car seats to choose from that it can be overwhelming to make the final decision. Many parents make the mistake of going for the “best” or “safest” option based on reviews, but the truth is that the best car seat for your child is the one that’s properly installed, used correctly every time you drive, and fits your child’s size appropriately.
There are some things that are important to avoid when shopping for a car seat. Avoid car seats that are:
- Visibly cracked or damaged
- Older than the recommended age of use by the manufacturer
- Missing the label with the manufacturing date and model number
- Lacking instructions for how to properly use the seat
- Under recall
- Being resold after being in a car accident
- Missing pieces
Where Can I Get Help Installing My Car Seat?
Proper installation is key to ensuring that your child is safe in his car seat every time you drive. Last year, Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women was named “Fitting Station of the Year” by the Office of Governor Bill Haslam and the Tennessee Child Passenger Safety Program for its car seat education program. Several nurses have completed a training course, as well as yearly continuing education, and are certified to provide car seat checks to the community.
If you have questions about how to properly install your car seat, don’t hesitate – get your car seat checked immediately so you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your child is properly protected.