When I was pregnant with my first child I researched every available type of car seat. And again, with my second child, I did the same thing. Because as time goes on, safety and standards change drastically. And, unless you plan on walking, a lot, your child needs a car seat from the time you walk out of the hospital until they are at least 7 years old. And, by law, most states now require children to ride in booster seats until they weigh at least 60 pounds or more.
Every 33 seconds, a child under 13 is involved in a car crash in the United States. Car seats, if used correctly, can dramatically reduce the risk of death or injury. But over half of car seats are either installed or used incorrectly, and 1 in 3 children killed in car crashes are completely unrestrained at the time of the crash. By working with the Ad Council and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) we hope to get out a message that will educate parents and caregivers about the importance of selecting #therightseat for their child’s age and size, and to remind them that car seats, booster seats, and seat belts offer the best protection for children in crashes and help save lives.
Can you imagine? Thinking that your child is in the right car seat, only to find out that they aren’t!
So what do you choose? Infant, convertible, or booster seat? Finding the right car seat and installing it correctly is no easy task. Then there's the question of when to transition your child to another type of car seat. Following these steps will help you find the right car seat based on car seat type, age and size recommendations, and will show you how to install your car seat the correct way.
There are three basic types of car seats to choose from:
- Rear-Facing Car Seat: It has a harness and, in a crash, cradles, and moves with your child to reduce the stress to the child's fragile neck and spinal cord. To maximize safety, keep your child in a car seat rear facing for as long as possible.
- Forward-Facing Car Seat: Has a harness and tether that limits your child's forward movement during a crash. To maximize safety, keep your child in a car seat for as long as the child fits within the manufacturer's height and weight requirements.
- Booster Seat: Positions the seat belt so that it fits properly over the stronger parts of a child's body. Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly.
If you are buying a new car seat, it is easy to find one that fits the perfect profile for your child’s age and size recommendations. If you are considering using a second hand or used car seat, there are some other things that you need to consider. If you can check off each one of these statements, then the second-hand seat may be okay to use.
- The seat has never been involved in a moderate to severe crash.
- The seat has labels stating date of manufacture and model number. You need this information to find out if there is a recall on the car seat or if the seat is too old.
- The seat has no recalls. If you do find a recall on the car seat, you should contact the manufacturer as some problems can be fixed.
- The seat has all its parts. If the seat is missing a part, contact the manufacturer as some parts can be ordered.
- The seat has its instruction book. You can also order the instruction manual from the manufacturer.
As a parent, you are your kids' strongest influence when it comes to modeling safe driving practices, including buckling up every time you get in the car. Teach your family that safety is the responsibility of all passengers as well as the driver.