Buckling your child in properly before every car trip is vital. From the day you bring him home from the hospital until he reaches about 4 feet 9 inches, your little one will go through several car seats (or incarnations of one) before it’s safe for him to use your car’s seat belts alone. Car safety seats come in a variety of styles-infant, convertible, all-in-one or 3-in-1, and booster-to accommodate your child as he grows. When shopping for one, check labels to find one suited to your child’s developmental stage, weight and height. As he grows, keep your seat’s limits in mind, and be sure to replace or convert it at the appropriate time. Take advantage of other accessories designed to make car trips with little ones safer and easier, too, such as portable DC-powered bottle warmers, sun shades, backseat-view mirrors and take-along toys. And, take cues from these parents’ experiences:
Car Seat Safety Points
- Follow installation instructions from the manufacturer of your car safety seat
– check packaging or the manufacturer’s web site – in combination with those in your car owners’ manual.
- The backseat is the safest place for children to ride; your child should ride in the backseat until he is at least 13 years old. The center of the backseat is the best protected, but it’s most important to put your child’s car seat where it can be the most tightly secured in your particular car’s backseat.
- A newborn’s rear-facing seat should be secured reclining at a 30- to 45-degree angle until your baby is able to sit up unassisted
– which typically occurs at around 6 to 9 months old. Keep your child in rear-facing car seats for as long as you can find one designed to accommodate your child’s weight and height
– at least until age 2; leg length is not a factor-children’s flexibility allows them to sit comfortably with their knees bent, ankles crossed. After that, switch to a forward-facing car safety seat.
- A secured car safety seat should not budge more than an inch in any direction at its base.
- Remove any bulky clothing from your child before strapping him into the car seat. You can cover him with a blanket after he is strapped in.
- When your child is buckled in, adjust the chest clip so that it is level with your child’s armpits and remove slack from the harness so that just one of your fingers can slide in between the strap and his collarbone.
- When you must switch your child to a forward-facing safety seat because he has outgrown all rear-facing options, be sure to use a tether to secure the top of the seat, whether you install the safety seat with your car’s seat belt or with a LATCH
– Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children system.
- Keep your child in a safety seat with a 5-point harness until he is at least 4 years old, weighs 40 pounds, and is mature enough to sit still while riding in a booster seat. After that, strap him into a booster seat until he is 4 feet 9 inches tall
– a height typically reached around age 8.