Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of death in children. I often tell parents that making sure that their child is properly restrained in the car is the best thing they can do for their child’s health.
From the moment they leave the hospital, children start in a rear-facing car seat. This is the safest ways for children to travel and they should be left rear-facing for as long as possible. This is critical. One of the most common mistakes parents make is turning their children around too soon. My 2.5-year-old daughter is still rear facing. Each car seat is different and the maximum weight and height allowed for your car seat will be printed on the side of the seat close to the bottom. Refer to this information to know when it is time to turn them around.
Next, children go into a forward-facing car seat. Stay in this type of seat for as long as the child meets the height and weight limits for this type of seat.
Both the rear-facing and forward-facing seats use a five-point harness. It is important for the chest clip to be on the chest and not on the stomach. Another very common mistake is placing the chest clip is too low. The straps should be pulled tight so that you can’t pick up any extra slack from the straps after they have been tightened.
Next, the child moves into a booster seat. They should stay in the booster seat until they are 4’9″ and between 80-100 pounds. You can move into a seat belt when the lap belt sits in the lap and not across the stomach, the shoulder strap rests across the shoulder and not across the face, and the knees can be comfortably bent over the side of the seat in the car.
All children should remain in the back seat of the car until they are 13-years-old.
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