It may seem like the guidelines for car seat safety have been all over the place the last few years. Yet the evolution of this safety practice has only become progressively stricter over time. Guidelines have shifted so the child can stay in each type of car seat as long as possible, ultimately mitigating serious injury.
The Recommended Stages
As of now, it is recommended that children remain in a rear-facing car seat for as long as they are able. All children below the age of two should definitely be in a rear-facing seat, and potentially children up to the age of four. Once a child transitions to a front facing seat, they should stay in that type of car seat until they no longer fit within the weight and height parameters. This is usually at least up to 60 pounds.
When they have outgrown this seat, they can be placed in a booster seat. Once the child reaches the size where a normal car seatbelt can fit them in the ideal locations, they can move past the booster seat. The child should always use both a lap and shoulder belt, and they should not sit in the front seat of the car until they are at least 13 years old.
Don’t Rush Transitions
These transitions should never be rushed. As a child moves from one form of car seat to another, it should not be cause for praise. A child should remain in each stage for as long as possible to ensure optimal safety. Even if a child wants to sit in the car without a car seat or booster, it is important that they do not do so unless the seat belt fits perfectly.
Further, devices sold with the intent of adjusting the seat belt to better fit the child should not be used. These devices can interfere with the function of the seatbelt, and the federal government does not ensure their safety. While the recommendations for rear-facing car seats may not have been as strict in the past, today, no manufacturer allows for any child less than 12 months to even use a forward-facing seat.
Stay On Top of Safety
There are some tips that a parent should abide by when they have a child riding in a car seat that will ensure the seat does what it is supposed to in the case of an accident. When you get a car seat, you should always make sure to register the seat. That way, you will be informed if there is a recall.
Make sure to inspect your car seat regularly as well to make sure there are no cracks or missing parts. If your car has been in a moderate to serious accident, you should get a new car seat. Finally, always make sure rear-facing car seats are in the back seat so they are not hit by an airbag. Thousands of children die every year in car accidents, but making sure they are in the appropriate car seat can save their lives