Vehicle crashes remain the number one killer of children ages 3-14 in the United States, according to the National Safety Council. However, car seats and booster seats can reduce serious and fatal injuries by more than half…if used and installed correctly.
If you’re a parent of an infant or young child, you probably know the drill. But if it has been a while since you last toted that little bundle of joy in your car, you should know that the safety regulations you once followed may have changed. If you’re planning to hit the road with family or friends this holiday season, take time to ensure you’re protecting the little ones in your life by following the car seat guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
* Infants & Toddlers (Rear-facing only seats & rear-facing convertible seats)
All infants and toddlers should be placed in rear-facing car seats until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat’s manufacturer.
* Toddlers & Preschoolers (Convertible seats and forward-facing seats with a harness)
Children older than 2 years who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their car seat should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat’s manufacture. This also applies to children younger than 2 years of age who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limits of their seats.
* School-Aged Children (Booster seats)
All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly. This is typically when the child has reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and is between 8 and 12 years of age.
* Older Children (Seat belts)
When children are old enough and large enough to use the standard vehicle seatbelt, the lap belt and shoulder belt should always be used together. And, children younger than 13 should always ride in the back seat for extra protection.
When in doubt about the safe installation of your child car seat, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s site to find an inspection station near you. http://www.nhtsa.gov/apps/cps/index.htm