Child Passenger Safety Week (September 17 – 23) is quickly approaching, so we thought this would be the perfect time to discuss child car seat safety. Car seats are required by law, but choosing the right one and properly installing it may be confusing to new parents. Here are some tips for choosing a car seat and properly installing it to ensure your child’s safety:
Choosing the Right Seat for Your Budget
The most common dilemma of car seat safety is choosing the best car seat when there are so many variations, each with their own safety features. The short answer is that whatever fits your child the most comfortably, fits in your car properly and is within your budget is the best car seat for your child.
All car seats have to pass strict crash testing and safety measures. Car seats that are approved by the government have the assurance of safety and a set standard that must be passed by all manufacturers. As long as a car seat is properly installed, even the least expensive model will protect your little one against vehicular accidents.
Once you’ve chosen the seat you would like to use for your child, you must then make sure you have properly installed it. It is important that you completely read the manufacturer’s instruction manual and abide by the recommendations made by your state’s or province’s motor laws. Such recommendations outline the proper seat for your child’s age and weight as well as its proper placement. For example:
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, in the state of Alabama, children must be in forward-facing seats or convertible seats until the age of 5 or 40lbs. Infant seats and convertible seats are required to be rear-facing until the child is at least 1 year old or 20 lbs.
Here are some easy to follow installation tips:
- Read the car seat instructions.
- Position car seats in the back seat.
- Reference your vehicle’s manual.
- Lock the seat belt so that the car seat stays securely in place.
- Secure tightly.
- Adjust to a comfortable angle for your child.
- Place your child in the seat and tighten the straps so that they are secure but not uncomfortable.
Rear-Facing Vs Forward-Facing
Rear-facing child car seats are to be used in either the front seat or back seat of an automobile. However, it is known to be safer when they are used in the back seat. Never use rear-facing child car seats in a front passenger seat if it has a passenger-side airbag.
Rear-facing child car seats offer much greater protection for an infant’s head, neck, and also spine. It is recommended that you use rear-facing child car seats as long as you can, moving your child into a forward-facing seat only after he or she is too big for the seat’s weight limit or his or her head is higher than the seat’s top.
Forward-facing child car seats are used for children from 1 to 4 years of age, or for children weighing 20-40 lbs. As with rear-facing child car seats, forward-facing child car seats can be used both in the front and back seats, although using it in the back seat is recommended.
A forward-facing child car seat should be used until the child is too big for the seat’s weight limit, and/or the top of the child’s head is higher than the seat’s top.
If ever you are in doubt about whether or not your car seat is appropriate or installed properly, do not hesitate to contact someone in your area that is trained in child car seat inspections.This small step could ensure proper car seat safety. For more child safety tips, follow us on Instagram (@peacefulparents_).