Once again, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated the guidelines for child car seat safety. All parents, grandparents and caregivers with responsibility for transporting children must heed these recommendations. Whether you’re taking a long trip, or just running a mile down the road, car seat safety is essential.
Infant seats or rear-facing convertible seats are required for children under 2 years of age until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. Although it may be tempting to turn a child forward-facing prior to his or her 2nd birthday, don’t do it!
Even when their legs seem to push against the seat, it is safer for their head, shoulders, and neck to be supported in the rear-facing position. Local fire departments are usually great resources for properly installing seats so check with them for help.
Toddlers and preschoolers should use convertible seats and forward-facing seats with harnesses. They should continue using these safety seats as long as possible with the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. Height and weight guidelines are clearly listed on all approved car safety seats so check them periodically against your child’s size. When they are old enough and big enough, children can transition to booster seats.
Children are anxious to be “grown up” and move out of a car seat, but even school-aged children must use proper booster seats. A belt-positioning booster seat is required until a child reaches 4 feet 9 inches in height, which is usually between 8 and 12 years of age. Make sure the seat belt lies comfortably over the should and across the child’s chest. Never allow children to put the car seat’s shoulder belt behind them. Don’t allow children to ride without a booster seat until they reach this minimum requirement — it is for their safety!
Children are excited to move to the front seat, but don’t be tempted to allow it too soon. Children should be at least 13 years of age before they are allowed to ride in the front passenger seat. They must also be able to wear the vehicle seat belt alone and should always use the lap and shoulder seat belts for the greatest level of safety.
The AAP guidelines are listed on their website, along with tips and recommendations for installing safety-approved car seats. These updated guidelines are very important for the safety of your child or children.
Car seat safety is non-negotiable with your child and although it may seem like a battle to get a squirming child into a rear-facing seat, it is worth it for his safety. And when your 10-year old realizes you mean business when you say the front seat is off-limits until they reach the age of 13, they’ll eventually stop asking.
And they’ll appreciate how much you care about their safety one day!