CHILD CAR SEAT USAGE TIPS
GUIDELINES FOR CHILD SAFETY SEATS
Are you unknowingly putting your child at risk? Do you wonder if your child is in the right carseat?
You should! In fact, three out of four parents do not properly use child restraints. Parents also often install the wrong type of seat for the child’s height, weight, or age. Car crashes are the number one killer of children ages one to 12 years in the United States. The best way to protect them in the car is to put them in the right seat, at the right time, and use it the right way.
Birth – 24 Months:
Newborns and children under the age of two should ride in a rear-facing car seat with a safety harness in the back seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat’s manufacturer. There are three types of rear-facing car seats: rear-facing only seats, convertible seats, and 3-in-1 seats.
Ages 2 – 4:
Children and toddlers between the ages of two and four should ride in a forward-facing child safety seat with a safety harness in the back seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat’s manufacturer.
Ages 4 – 8:
Parents should keep school-age children in their forward-facing car seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat’s manufacturer. Once the child outgrows the forward-facing seat, they may move into a booster seat with a safety harness in the back seat of the vehicle.
Ages 8 – 12
Children should remain in a booster seat with a safety harness in the back seat until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there. It is recommended that all children under the age of 13 ride in the back seat for optimal protection.
When choosing a safety seat for your child, make sure the seat meets all federal standards. The seat must property fit in your car and must be appropriate for your child’s weight and height (see vehicle owner’s manual and safety-seat manufacturer’s instructions). It is recommended that you buy a new, unused car seat so you know the history of the seat and are aware of any recalls.
For additional information on child safety seats, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website: www.safercar.gov/parents/.
If you need help installing and using your car seat or would like a child seat inspection, please click here.
Avoid preventable mistakes and ensure that your car seat keeps your child safe.