By Carolyn Muller
Community Health Improvement Specialist at LRGHealthcare
Certified Car Seat Safety Technician
One of the most important jobs you have as a parent is keeping your child safe when riding in a vehicle. Each year thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes. Proper use of car seats helps keep children safe. But with so many different car seats on the market, many parents find this overwhelming.
The type of seat your child needs depends on several things, including your child's age and size and the type of vehicle you have. One of the best things you can do is to keep track of the different stages that children fall into regarding car seats.
• Rear-facing car seat: Birth up to age 2
Infants and children should be buckled in a rear-facing car seat, in the back seat, until age 2 or when they reach the upper weight or height limits of their seat. Check the seat's owner's manual and/or labels on the seat for weight and height limits. A rear facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash because it distributes the force of the collision over the entire body. If you are worried about squished legs, no need! It is completely fine for their feet to touch the seat back or for their legs to bend.
• Forward-facing car seat: Age 2 up to at least age 5
When children outgrow their rear-facing seats, they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat, in the back seat, until at least age 5 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of their seat.
• Booster seat: Age 5 up until seat belts fit properly
Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat by reaching the upper height or weight limit of their seat, they should be buckled in a belt-positioning booster seat until seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs, not the stomach, and the shoulder belt lays across the chest, not the neck. In New Hampshire, the state law requires that children ride in an appropriate child safety seat until they are 7 years old or 57 inches tall, whichever is reached first.
• Seat belt: Once seat belts fit properly without a booster seat
Children no longer need to use a booster seat once seat belts fit them properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs, not the stomach, and the shoulder belt lays across the chest, not the neck. For the best possible protection, keep children properly buckled in the back seat.
Even once we are through all the stages of car seats, there are still a couple things we can do to keep our children protected in the car. All children under the age of 13 should be buckled in the back seat. Airbags can kill children riding in the front seat. Also, all parents should set a good example by always using their seat belt.
Looking for help? If you would like assistance in learning how to install a child seat or want help determining which seat your child (or grandchild) should be in, give us a call at 527-7120. LRGHealthcare has two certified car seat technicians available for free appointments.
- Category: Health and Wellness
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