Every great parent wants to keep their children safe, and we must do everything possible. But unfortunately, although car manufacturers go to great lengths to ensure that vehicles are safe and secure, accidents can happen.
The CDC indicates that in 2016, 723 children under 12 died in car accidents, and 128,000 were injured. These statistics are staggering, especially when considering that most of these deaths and injuries may have been entirely preventable.
It showed that 35% of the children the age of 12 years old weren’t wearing seatbelts. In addition, over 600,000 children younger than 12 did not ride in child or baby car seats.
There is, however, good news. The CDC also states that using child car seats can significantly mitigate the risk of injury. Furthermore, booster seats reduce the risk of serious injury in children between 4 and 8 by 45% over seat belts alone. Finally, using a seat belt reduces the risk of injury or death by half for older children.
The statistics are clear. Child and baby car seats are an indispensable investment for every parent who wants to keep their child safe.
Know Your Car Know You Child Or Baby Car Seat
The first step you should take to keep your baby or child safe is knowing your car and your car seat. You can secure your child or baby car seats in the vehicle using several different methods.
Since September 1, 2002, all new cars have to have the LATCH system or Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. However, if your car was manufactured before this date or did not have the LATCH system, you can still secure your child or baby car seat with the seat belt.
Lower Anchors And Tethers For Children
Lower anchors are bars that you see at the bottom of the seat. You might not always be able to see them, but you can feel for them under the seat cushion. Thus, be sure to read and understand your car seat instruction manual so you can find the lower anchors. The lower anchors allow you to secure the seat without using the seat belt.
Tether anchors are the parts on the car’s interior where your car seats tethers are anchored or fastened to. Where the tether anchors are will vary from vehicle to vehicle. So again, be sure to read your car seat owner’s manual to determine where these are located and how to use them properly.
You should familiarize yourself with each of these weight limits, as indicated by the manufacturer. You can usually use lower anchors to fasten the car seat if the combined weight of your child and the car seat is no more than 65 pounds. Also, if the weight exceeds 65 pounds, you will need to use a seat belt to secure the child safety seat.
If you have questions about infant car seat installation, you can also contact a certified technician to assist. In addition, here is an excellent video on how to secure child or baby car seats using the LATCH system:
How Do I Know Which Child Or Baby Car Seats To Use?
The infant car seat solution you use will depend on your child’s age, height, and weight. However, here are some general guidelines:
- From birth until about age 4, you can use rear-facing baby car seats. However, maximum ages, heights, and weights may differ. Therefore, be sure to read your car seat’s user manual. You place these rear-facing seats in the back of your car with the baby facing toward the seat. Never place rear-facing seats toward the front, or place them in the front seat.
- After your child outgrows the rear-facing baby car seat, they are ready for a front-facing seat. Always check your car seat’s height and weight specifications to know when to make this change.
- Use a booster seat when your child outgrows the front-facing seat and before your child fits in a seat belt. Usually, a seat belt is appropriate for children between the ages of 9 and 12 or when your child is over 4’9″ tall.
- Even after your child has outgrown baby car seats and booster seats, they should still ride in the car’s back seat until age 13.
- Keep reading for more information on when to switch between different types of car seats.
Forward vs. Rear-Facing Baby Seats
Remember to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. Rear-facing car seat remains the best way to keep your child safe while in the car.
To know when you should switch to a forward-facing car seat, read your car seat’s owner’s manual carefully. The manual will tell you the maximum height and weight limits for a rear-facing seat. The switch from a rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing car seat happens at about 3 or 4 years.
You can switch from a rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing car seat at around that age. Also, some baby car seats are convertible to switch the seat from a rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing car seat.
The Britax Boulevard ClickTight is an example of a convertible baby car seat. You can use a rear-facing car seat when your child weighs between 5-40 pounds and a forward-facing car seat for 20-65 pounds. Your child’s standing height should be 49″ or less for this car seat.
Once your child has outgrown both rear-facing and forward-facing car seats, it’s time for a booster seat. Unfortunately, most children will not be big enough for a seat belt to fit securely until around 10-12 years old.
Hence, a booster seat is necessary to secure children in the car who have grown too big for baby car seats but are not yet large enough to wear a seat belt. In all cases, make sure you check the laws of your state before transitioning your child to a booster seat.
There are different types of booster seats. The one you choose will depend on the type of seats you have in your car. However, there are two basic types of booster seats:
- High-back booster seats: As the name implies, these booster seats not only lift the child so that the seat belt fits correctly. They also have a high back to support your child’s back and neck for greater comfort.
- Backless booster seats: Backless booster seats lift your child higher, so the seat belts fit correctly.
How To Secure A Booster Seat In Your Car
Remember that you will secure most child booster seats with a regular seat belt and not with the LATCH system unless you buy a convertible model that you can change from a baby car seat to a booster seat.
As with other car seats, you should install booster seats in the back seat of your car. There will be no danger of suffocation should the airbags deploy. If you choose a booster seat with a backrest, the backrest should sit tight against the back seat of your vehicle.
Securing Your Child In The Booster Seat
To secure your child in the seat, always use both the seat and the shoulder belt. When you secure your child in the booster seat, ensure the seat belt fits securely over your child’s lap. In addition, the shoulder belt should not obstruct your child’s neck.
You should position the seat belt securely over the middle of your child’s shoulder. Your child will be more comfortable this way and less likely to maneuver themselves out of the belt. And, of course, this will be the most secure position in the event of an accident.
If the booster seat does not have a backrest, the seat of your car should reach up at least as far as your child’s ears. This will ensure that your child’s head is protected in an accident. When in doubt, always refer to your car seat’s manual and your car’s owner’s manual.
The Chicco MyFit Harness and Booster Seat is an example of a booster seat that you can convert from a baby car seat with a 5-point harness system for younger children to a booster seat as your child grows.
Use the harness mode for children who weigh between 25-65 pounds and are up to 54″ tall. Then, convert to a booster seat for children ages four and up and who weigh 40-100 pounds. Children should be between 38-57″ tall for the booster seat mode.
On the other hand, the Chicco GoFit is a backless booster seat. You secure it in your car by adequately using your car’s seat belt.
Should my 5-year-old be in a car seat or booster?
If your child reaches the weight or height limit for their car seat, they can move to a back seat booster seat.
Depending on their size, most children will be big enough for a booster seat at around 4 to 8 years old. However, if your child is ready for a booster seat, make the switch even if they still ride in the back seat.
Your state may have laws about when children can stop using a car seat or booster.
Check your state’s laws before moving your child to a booster seat.
How Do I Change My Child’s Car Seat?
Change your child’s car seat is relatively simple; there are three things you need to do:
- Locate your vehicle owner’s manual and find the section on the car seats. This will tell you what types of car seats can be used in your vehicle.
- Read the instructions that come with the car seat.
- Install and use the car seat correctly. If you have any questions, contact the car seat manufacturer or your local child passenger safety technician for assistance.
- Once you have installed the car seat, make sure that it is in the correct position for your child.
- Finally, ensure that your child is buckled into the car seat correctly. The harness should be snug, and the clip should be at armpit level.
If you have any questions about how to change your child’s car seat or if you need help installing it, please contact the manufacturer.
What if I Don’t Have the Manufacturer’s Instructions for My Car Seat Model?
If you don’t have the manufacturer’s instructions for your infant car seats to know the car seat safety, then contact the dealer. More than half of the dealers will be able to get back to you with your questions.
More than likely, you can find the information online that includes the weight and height limits, child’s age, child safety seats, and the full car seat manual.
It is important to know the maximum weight as your child grows. By following the federal safety standards, you can ensure that you are using the right seat and it is installed correctly.
How Do You Know the Weight Limit Allowed for a Child’s Body?
There will be a time when your child outgrows the one seat you h ve. Even if the particular seat is properly installed and correctly installed, there are still some signs that the child is ready to move to the next seat. These are a few telltale signs that it may be time:
- The harness straps are too low on her shoulders, below the collarbone.
- The chest clip is too high, at or above her neckline.
Keep Your Child Safe in the Right Car Seat
Overall, understanding the right infant seats or child seat is important to ensure your child is safe in the car. Hopefully, car crashes don’t happen, but if it does, you want to make sure your child is safe.
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