Car Seat Safety – Part 2

Car Seat Safety – Part 2Car accidents are a leading cause of death and injury among children under 13. That’s why car seat safety is crucial to ensure your baby is protected in the event of an accident. Yesterday we shared car seat safety guidelines for installing car seats and strapping in your precious cargo. Today we’re reviewing best practices for car seat safety.

Best Practices for Car Seat Safety

Remain in the Safest Seat: There is an appropriate car seat for each stage of childhood including infant “bucket” seats, infant-toddler convertible high back seats and booster seats, with many variations of each. Manufacturers make recommendations on the appropriate height and weight for each type of car seat that you should follow closely. Moving your child to the next level of car seat before she meets the height and weight requirements can be dangerous.

Remain Rear-Facing Until Age 2: Facing rear is the safest direction for small bodies – 50% safer in fact. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing car seats until at least age two (which is also the law in many states) and remaining rear-facing until the child completely outgrows the seat in this position. That’s because young children’s vertebrae are not fully fused so an impact that would cause minor damage to a mature body could yield critical injuries for an infant or toddler.

Remain in a Booster as Long as Possible:  Most children should continue to sit in a booster seat until around age 11 or 12 when they can safely sit in a regular car seat with the belt buckled properly. Your child will probably be eager to move on from car seats but consider her safety before making decisions about ditching a car seat altogether.

Don’t Allow Children Under 13 to Sit in Front: Even after your child outgrows a booster, the back seat is the safest place until around age 13. This is because air bags can cause serious injuries to smaller bodies, not to mention windshield glass.

Know Your Car Seats History: One of the few baby items that you should not buy used is a car seat. There is no way to know for sure if the car seat has ever been in an accident. Car seats that have been, even if they appear fine, should be discarded as their safety may be compromised. Similarly, never use a car seat that is expired or recalled.

Avoid Toys and Mirrors on the Car Seat: Your baby may prefer additional stimulation while enjoying a ride in the car but clipping toys or mirrors to your car seat can be dangerous. Car seats are not designed or tested for safety with these added elements so you may reduce their effectiveness if you alter the seat.

Transporting Bulky Items with your Baby:  Bulky or heavy items and even pets can fall on your baby during a car ride. If you must transport something large, make sure it is secure in your trunk or take it at a time when your baby is not in the car.

Stay safe and enjoy the ride with these car seat safety tips!

Sources: AAA’s Safe Seats 4 Kids, Parents and Autobytel