Car Seats and Safety Rules for Parents to Follow

Car Seats and Safety Rules for Parents to Follow

From car seats to booster seats, parents have many safe options for child protection while traveling in the car. Recently the Center for Disease Control reported that between 2002 to 2011 motor vehicle fatalities in U.S. children dropped 43%. Mostly this figure is attributed to better seat belt and car seat use by parents, which is an encouraging sign. Do you know that proper time line for transitioning your child from a car seat to a booster? If you’re unsure about the correct safety precautions, take a look at this time line adapted from CDC guidelines:

Birth to age 2

Use only a rear-facing car seat during this time period. Your child might be ready for a front-facing car seat before turning 2 if he or she exceeds the upper height or weight limits. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual if you think your child is too large for a rear-facing car seat.

Ages 2 to 5

Switch from a rear-facing car seat to a forward facing car seat. As always, make sure to securely buckle in the seat for each trip. Again, your child might grow out of the forward-facing seat before his or her fifth birthday, so ask your pediatrician or reference your owner’s manual so you know when you are approaching the height and weight limits.

Ages 5 to 12

Around age 5, your child will be ready to sit in a booster seat while riding in the car. Your child should always sit in the back seat and never up front in the passenger seat. Always use a seat belt that’s fastened while your child is in the booster seat. You will know when your child is ready for just a seat belt when the lap belt lays flat across the upper thighs and the shoulder strap crosses the chest. If your child’s lap belt is across the stomach and the shoulder strap falls across the neck, then your child is still too small for just a seat belt.

Children younger than 12 should not sit in the front seat, regardless of size. Also, it is vital that your child wears a seat belt or is in the proper car seat for every trip in the car, no matter how brief. Safety comes first when riding in the car, so make sure you are well-versed in car seat fit and safety before starting your trip.