New Car Seat Safety Recommendations

March 22, 2011

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Baby In Rear-Facing Car Seat

If you are the parent of a young toddler, you may have heard that the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their car seat safety recommendations yesterday. Here are some key points for all parents to know: Rear-facing is safer than forward-facing

  • The head, neck and spine are better supported in a rear-facing seat than in a forward-facing seat because of the way crash forces are distributed.
  • Children should ride in a rear-facing position until they are 2 years old, or until they outgrow the height or weight limit for their car seat. If your child turns 2 before outgrowing the seat limits, keeping him or her in that position is best.
  • Your child's legs may look cramped, but it will really bother you more than it will bother him/her.

Use a 5-point harness for as long as possible

  • A car seat with a 5-point harness system is the safest option available, whether your child is rear-facing or forward-facing.
  • Most car seat harnesses can be used to at least 40 pounds in a forward-facing position, but many manufacturers now make car seats that allow use of the harness to 65 or more pounds. These car seats range from $150-$300, and are a good investment since your child will probably use them for 3-5 years.
  • Keep your child in a 5-point harness system until he or she outgrows the maximum height or weight limits of that harness, before moving into a booster seat.

Booster seats may be needed until 8-12 years of age

  • One size does not fit all. Vehicle seat belts are made for adults and do not typically fit a child properly unless he or she is about 4 feet 9 inches tall.
  • Children are more likely to misuse a seat belt if it does not fit well, and in the event of a crash, the seat belt can't do its job unless it is use correctly.
  • Some children may be over 8 years old before the seat belt fits them properly, and they may need to use a booster seat until they are a little bit older than their peers.

Back seat is safer than front seat

  • Children should ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
  • Even in the back seat, Texas law requires that all passengers use a seat belt. Ideally, all passengers will be using a lap and shoulder belt combination for optimal protection.

The best car seat is one that fits your child, fits your car, and is installed and used correctly every time you go for a drive. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a free car seat check, please call the Center for Childhood Injury Prevention at (832) 828-1314.

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