It’s a sad but true fact: car accidents are the number one killer of children ages one through twelve in the United States. It’s a shocking statistic, because it’s a statistic that doesn’t need to be true. The number of children killed each year can be lowered dramatically by making simple safety changes in your car, and that usually starts with the car seats that keep your children buckled in the back seat. A lot of things factor into what kind of car seat your child needs, if he or she needs one at all, and using the wrong car seat can be just as dangerous as not using one at all.
If your child is under one year of age, he or she should always be fastened into a rear-facing car seat. You can even try and win a rear-facing car seat from the baby on board contest! There are many different kinds of rear-facing car seats, but if your child still hasn’t celebrated his or her first birthday, then a car seat that is only rear-facing is necessary. If you go on long drives, then opt for a convertible type car seat because it allows your child to stay in the car seat longer because of the different height and weight limits. Just keep in mind to always use a rear-facing car seat for your child, if possible.
A rear-facing car seat is by far the safest kind of car seat for your child, but once your child outgrows this kind of seat, you must move on to a different kind. Usually around the age of two or three, your child can move to a front-facing car seat with a harness. This is still a very safe option, as long as you always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and your child fits safely into it. Always make sure your child is buckled up, because if he or she isn’t, it could be against the law.
Let’s face it, your child will outgrow that car seat quicker than you’d probably like! Sometime between the ages of four and seven, your child will surpass the height and weight limits of the car seat. This doesn’t mean that it’s time for your child to ride shotgun with you, though! Before your child reaches the seatbelt phase, make sure you have a booster seat for them. A booster seat will help position your child so the seatbelt fits over the proper areas, ensuring that they are completely secure in the event of a crash.
Eventually, the booster seat will become unnecessary, and your child can switch to the full-on seatbelt. Make sure your child is completely ready for this. The lap belt part of the seatbelt should fit snugly across your child’s upper thighs, and the shoulder belt should fit snugly across your child’s shoulder and chest. It shouldn’t rest across your child’s neck or stomach; this indicates they he or she still needs a booster seat. Once your child is fully ready for a seatbelt, they should still ride in the back seat, as it is the safest part of the car for a child; and if you do wind up in an unfortunate accident, you’ll be glad that your child is as secure as possible.
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