Every year in America, thousands of young children are involved in dangerous car accidents. A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control reported that, in one year, over 618,000 American children between ages 0 – 12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety car seat or even a seat belt at least some of the time. This is unacceptable, especially considering the amount of effective, dependable car seats that are on the market today. A study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, showed young children in car seats are 43% safer when the car seat is placed in the middle rear seat.
Finding the right car seat for your child is crucial for helping them avoid injuries in the case of an accident. The type of seat your child requires for optimal safety depends on a number of factors including the age and size of your child. Parents should always look at the height and weight recommendations of a specific car seat before purchasing. To help keep parents from getting overwhelmed, we have prepared a little guide (based on American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations) to help choose the appropriate car seat for your kids.
Rear-Facing Car Seats
- Generally small with carrying handles.
- Should be only used during travel in car, not for resting or feeding in the house.
- Kids should be in a rear-facing seat until at least age 2 and should stay rear-facing as long as they can after that point.
- Toddlers are up to 5 times safer if they remain rear-facing until age 2.
- Just remember even though your toddler may protest and complain about being rear-facing, safety should always be our first consideration.
- 2 kinds of rear-facing car seats:
1.) Rear-facing–only seats
- Recommended for infants up to 22 to 40 pounds, depending on the model.
- Are small and have carrying handles.
- Usually attaches a base that is left in the car.
2.) Convertible seats (used rear facing)
- If your child has reached the height or weight limit of their rear-facing-only seat before age 2, they should transition to a rear-facing convertible seat.
- Seats that can be positioned to face the rear, but can also be adjusted to forward-facing for kids as they outgrow the height and weight of a rear-facing seat.
- They are typically bulkier than infant seats and do not come with carrying handles or separate bases.
- Most convertible car seats have rear-facing limits of 35- 40 pounds and should easily fit children until at least age 2.
- Ideal for larger babies and toddlers.
- Normally use a 5-point harness that attaches at the shoulders, at the hips, and between the legs to secure the child.
Front-Facing Car Seats
- Typically includes safety harness straps to securely keep children from escaping.
- Ideal for kids who have outgrown the weight or height requirements for their rear-facing seat.
- Typically recommended for kids between the ages of 3 – 7, but kids should remain in a front-facing seat with a harness until they exceed the recommended height and weight as recommended by their specific model.
- Help raise children up so the adult seat belt fits them more safely.
- Recommended for kids who have outgrown front-facing car seats, based on height and weight limits of the seat model, but are not big enough to safely ride with an adult seatbelt yet.
- Typically used with lap and shoulder seat belts in your vehicle, instead of harness straps.
- Two forms available: high-back and backless.
- Regardless of age, kids should be in a booster seat until they weigh at least 40 pounds and are at least 4’9’’.
- Recommended for kids age 12 or older.
- According to the Georgia’s Office of Highway Safety, in order for kids to ride safely with an adult seatbelt, the shoulder belt should rest across the shoulder and chest (not the neck) and the lap belt should rest over the hip and thigh bones.
- If kids do not meet these size requirements, they should be in booster seats.
- Seatbelts are always recommended (and required by law in Georgia) once kids graduate from a booster seat (not just after age 12)
Remember that car seats should always be placed in the back seat of your vehicle. One of the most important jobs of any parent is keeping their child safe while riding in a vehicle. That begins with finding the car seat that will keep your child safe, secure, and comfortable. Remember to change car seats as your children age and grow. For more information on car safety, contact Children’s Wellness Center today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more news, tips, updates and upcoming Meet & Greet events.