By Audrey Gibson
Keeping children safe in vehicles requires deliberate steps every day. The “little people” in particular climb aboard trusting that their transport will get them safely home from the hospital nursery, to grandma’s, auntie’s, a fun outing, and every place in between. Studies have shown for years that car seats save the lives of children and, the use of car seats for certain age and size children is the law in every state.
It is worth repeating that the use of car seats and boosters is not determined by age alone. Regardless of their age, children develop differently and protection for them may vary. The best place to look for information on the proper car seat or booster for your little one is on the box the item comes in, or manufacturers’ description tags on the car seat. If neither is available, try looking online for information based on the make/model of the seat.
Remember to register your car seat for warranty and for important recall notices warning of any defects that require repair or replacement of the car seat. Most importantly, use the car seat correctly. Placing the seat in a vehicle without proper strapping puts your little one at risk of being severely tossed, or ejected from your vehicle. Likewise holding a child in your lap with a seat belt across the two of you is deadly risky as is seat-belting with no car seat or booster.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends the following as guidelines for choosing the proper car seat or booster for children through age 12:
Rear-Facing Car Seat
Birth to 12 Months — Children under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat.
1 – 3 Years — Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until the maximum height or weight is reached per the manufacturers’ labeling. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether in the back seat.
Forward-Facing Car Seat
4 — 7 Years — Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
4 — 7 Years — Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember, your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.
8 — 12 Years — Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. This means the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember, your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.
Car Seat Safety Recalls
It is important to be attentive to safety recalls. During late May, 2017, Graco recalled nearly 25,000 “My Ride 65” car seats because of an issue NHSTA found with harness webbing designed for child restraint during transport. If you have a Graco car seat with the following model numbers, 1871689, 1908152, 1813074, 1872691, 1853478, 1877535, 1813015 and 1794334 or a webbing code tag of 2014/06, visit here or call 1–800-345‑4109 for information. Visit here, for more information on safety recalls relating to car seats.