Car Seat Safety

Car Safety Seats: Information for Families for 2011

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 safety seats helps keep children safe. But with so many different car safety seats on the market, it’s no wonder many parents find this overwhelming.

The type of seat your child needs depends on several things, including your child’s size and the type of vehicle you have. The following information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers guidance on choosing the most appropriate car safety seat for your child.

Infants and toddlers—rear-facing

The AAP recommends that all infants should ride rear-facing starting with their first ride home from the hospital. All infants and toddlers should ride in a Rear-Facing Car Safety Seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.

Types of rear-facing car safety seats

There are 3 types of rear-facing car safety seats: infant-only seats, convertible seats, and 3-in-1 seats. When children reach the highest weight or length allowed by the manufacturer of their infant-only seat, they should continue to ride rearfacing in a convertible seat or 3-in-1 seat.

Types of Car Safety Seats at a Glance

Age Group Type of Seat General Guidelines
Infants/Toddlers Infant seats and rear-facing convertible seats All infants and toddlers should ride in a Rear-Facing Car Safety Seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.
Toddlers/Preschoolers Convertible seats and forward facing seats with harnesses All children 2 years or older, or those younger than 2 years who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their car safety seat, should use a Forward-Facing Car Safety Seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.
School-aged children Booster seats All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a Belt-Positioning Booster Seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
Older children Seat belts When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use Lap and Shoulder Seat Belts for optimal protection.
All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the Rear Seats of vehicles for optimal protection.
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