Being a parent can come with a lot of unknowns. There are so many things you’re expected to know, and it can all be really overwhelming. One of the first things that is beneficial to learn is how to pick the right car seat for your child. There are only four stages of car seats, which makes them pretty easy to remember.
The prenatal stage is actually meant for moms who are still carrying their babies. Car crashes are very dangerous to everyone, but especially pregnant women. There are crash tested pregnancy seat belt positioners that redirect the seat belt away from the stomach.
The rear facing car seat stage is for birth to at least two years old. Ideally, a child stays rear facing until three or four, which is usually when they no longer fit into the seat in a rear facing position. Rear facing is very safe for children because the car seat gives them support for the head, neck, and back. If seated forward during an accident, the head and neck are unrestrained. This can be very dangerous because their bones and muscles are not fully developed.
From about two to four, or whenever they outgrow their rear facing seats, children will be seated in a forward facing car seat until they are five or six. The purpose of the five-point harness is to support the strongest points of the body and distribute the crash force. Again, this is very important because they are still growing and their spines are not as strong as adults.
Tip: Make sure the harness straps are snug enough on the child that you cannot pinch the strap material at the shoulders.
Booster Seat/Belt Positioning
There are many other products on the market aside from a booster seat. The purpose of this stage is to help properly position the seat belt at a point where it is contracting the strongest parts of the child’s body. A booster seat works to lift the child up to the proper height for the seat belt to be effective. Other products might bring the height of the seatbelt down to fit the child.
Seat Belt Only
Once your child can pass the five-step test, you know they are ready to be seated in the car with only a seat belt.
Can your child…
- Sit with his lower back against the seat and feet on the floor?
- Keep his knees naturally bent at the edge of the seat?
- Have the lap belt on his thighs?
- Have the shoulder belt cross mid shoulder/mid chest?
- Sit like this for the entire ride?
Choosing the safest car seat for your child does not have to be difficult. If you are still unsure about the best way for your child to ride in your car, feel free to call our office. We would be happy to help keep you and your family safe.