Latest News 2017 April Are You Using Car Seats Correctly?

Are You Using Car Seats Correctly?

Christine Miller put her three-year-old son, Kyle, into a booster seat when they got in the car. The boy was 40 pounds, and Christine had been led to believe that this meant he needed to use a booster seat. One day, while driving through an intersection, her minivan was struck by a driver trying to beat the light.

Her son was thrown from the booster and died on impact. Tragically, misinformation about car seat choice directly contributed to her son's death.

Christine has since devoted her life to ensuring that other parents don't make the same mistake she did. Today's blog is in honor of that request: to spread awareness about car seat safety. On her blog Growing Humans, Christine cites a startling statistic: 80-90% of car seats aren't being used correctly or properly.

How sure are you that you're one of the 10%?

The Types of Car Seats (& When Your Child Can Use Them)

Your child's journey from the back seat to the front seat has 4 stages: rear-facing car seat, forward-facing car seat, booster seat, and seat belt. Each stage corresponds to your child's height and weight, and each car seat will have its own recommended limit on when you should move onto another car seat. The below information is general for that reason—for information about when you should get a new car seat for your child, consult each car seat's specifications.

Today's article focuses on 3 types of car seats:

  • Rear-Facing: These are by far the safest type of car seat for your child. Impact on the back of the seat flexes and moves with your child's spine, protecting their back and neck.
  • Forward-Facing: These seats utilize a 5-point harness to keep your child safely in place. There are combination seats on the market that double as a rear-facing seat or a booster seat (or an all-in-one model that does all three).
  • Booster Seats: These seats position children higher up, allowing the seat belt to rest across their chest and upper thighs (where they should be).

How Long Should I Wait Before Switching?

When deciding whether or not to put your child in the next level of car seat, consider waiting as long as possible—until they've reached both the height and weight limit for the car seat. Experts agree that keeping your child in their current seating type for as long as possible exposes him or her to less risk than getting a new seat too early. This is especially true for infants—keep them in a rear-facing seat for as long as they'll comfortably fit.

Here is a general age range for each type of car seat:

  • 0-3 years old: rear-facing seat
  • 1-7 years old: forward-facing seat
  • 4-12 years old: booster seat
  • 8-13+ years old: seat belt (still in the backseat)

Keep in mind that these are guidelines, and it's your child's physical size (height and weight) that determines how safe they are in each type of seat.

The best rule of thumb is this: if your child fits in two types of car seats, choose the safer one. If it's between a booster and a 5-point harness, choose the harness. If it's between a rear-facing seat and a front-facing seat, choose the rear facing seat. Your child will have their entire life to sit in the front seat like an adult. Keep them safe for just a few years longer.

Use the site to search for the car seat that best suits your child's size!