Does Your Child Ride in the Right Car Seat?

By on July 17, 2013 - Comments off

Car accidents are the number-one cause of death for U.S. children ages one to 12, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). You can help protect your kids in case of a crash by making sure they a€™re using the right car seat for their age and size, and that each seat is properly installed.

The NHTSA provides the following guidelines on choosing the right car seat for your child, based on age:

  • From birth to one year: Infants should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. Do not place a rear-facing car seat in a seat protected by an airbag.
  • One to three years: Toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are too big to fit the seat’s recommended height or weight. Then, toddlers may switch to a forward-facing car seat placed in the back seat of the vehicle.
  • Four to seven years: Young children should use a forward-facing seat with a harness until they outgrow it, based on their seat’s height and weight limits. Only then should children switch to a booster seat, which is used with the car’s seat belts.
  • Eight to twelve years: Keep using a booster seat until the child is big enough for the car’s seat belts to fit correctly. The lap belt should lie snug across the hips and the shoulder belt should lie against the shoulder, not the neck. Keep kids in the back seat as long as possible.

Because each child grows differently, these ages are only a rough guide. The NHTSA also advises that your child should use each type of car seat until he or she outgrows that seat a€™s specific height and weight limits. Always make sure seats are installed properly, according to the manufacturer€™s instructions.

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