When it comes to accidents, it is smart to always be on the lookout and take proper precautions to prevent them. Car crashes just so happen to be the number one killer of children 1 to 12 years old in the U.S. The best way to protect them? Always put them in the right seat, at the right time, and use it the correct way.
Rear-Facing Car Seats
Rear-facing car seats are the best seat for your young child to use. They have a harness and, in the event of an unfortunate crash taking place, they can cradle and move with your child to reduce stress to the child’s fragile neck and spinal cord. These are the following types:
- Infant Car Seat (Rear-Facing Only): These are seats that are designed for newborns and can only be used rear facing. They will typically outgrow these seats by eight or nine months and a convertible or all in one should be used rear-facing instead.
- Convertible Seat: This seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether when the child grows. It can be used with children of all different sizes. This means that it allows for children to stay in the rear facing position for a longer period of time.
- All-in-One Seat: This seat can make many transitions, from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat, and then to a booster as the child grows.
Forward-Facing Car Seat
These seats have a harness and tether that limits your child’s forward movement during the event of a crash. They include the following types:
- Convertible Seat: This seat changes from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether when the child grows.
- Combination Seat: As a child grows, this seat transitions from a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether into a booster.
- All-in-One Seat: This seat changes from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat and to a booster seat as a child grows.
These seats position the seat belt so that it fits properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body. These include the following types:
- Booster Seat with High Back: These booster seats are designed to boost the child’s height so the seat belt fits properly. They provide neck and head support. They are ideal for vehicles that do not have headrests or high seat backs.
- Backless Booster Seat: These seats are designed to boost the child’s height so the seat belt fits properly. They do not provide head and neck support, but are ideal for vehicles that have headrests.
- Combination Seat: As a child grows, this seat will transition from a forward-facing seat with a harness into a booster.
- All-in-One Seat: This seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat and to a booster seat as a child grows.
Seat belts should lie across the upper thighs and be snug across the shoulder and chest. These are precautions to restrain your child safely in the event of a crash. It should not rest on the stomach area or across the neck or face in any occasion.
Right Car Seat for Age/Size
You should always select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your vehicle. You should also always use it every time, and refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions. You should also read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or lower anchors and a tether. From birth to 3 years, a rear-facing car seat should be used. For ages 1 through 7, a forward-facing car seat should be utilized. From 4 to 12, a booster seat can be used. Seat belts can be used from 8 to 13 and up. You may want to check with the NHTSA and their complete list of car seat recommendations if you are seeking more information on which car seat is appropriate for your child’s age and size. You can never be too careful in the event of a car crash!