Car Seat Safety Made Simple
In my family there is a running joke that my mom should have put me in bubble wrap with the way I was always finding new ways to injure myself. I am sure many parents have had the same idea, hoping to protect little ones from scraped knees and bumped heads. Unfortunately, we cannot prevent accidents, including those that happen in the car.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "3 out of every 4 children in child safety seats are not properly secured, or even worse, not restrained at all," and up to 72% of car seats are installed improperly, which can also lead to injury in case of an accident. Seat belts and car seats are the bet way to keep yourself and your children safe on the road. It all starts with choosing the right car seat, ensuring it is properly installed, and properly securing your child every time they are in the car -- even on short rides. JPMA and its members need your help to spread the word about car seat safety. Pin our infographic below to help spread the word.
Choosing the right car seat:
Know the 3 types of car seats
Rear-Facing Car Seat: The best seat for your young child to use. It has a harness and, in a crash, cradles and moves with your child to reduce the stress to the child's fragile neck and spinal cord.
- Infant Car Seat (Rear-Facing only): Designed for newborns and small babies, the infant-only car seat is a small, portable seat that can only be used rear-facing. Babies usually outgrow their infant car seats by eight or nine months. When that happens, we recommend that parents purchase a convertible or all-in-one car seat and use it rear-facing.
- Convertible Seat: As a child grows, this seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether. Because it can be used with children of various sizes, it allows for children to stay in the rear-facing position longer.
- All-in-One Seat: This seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat (with a harness and tether) and to a booster seat as a child grows. Because it can be used with children of various sizes, it allows for children to stay in the rear-facing position longer.
Forward-Facing Car Seat: Has a harness and tether that limits your child's forward movement during a crash.
- Convertible Seat: As a child grows, this seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether.
- Combination Seat: As a child grows, this seat transitions from a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether into a booster.
- All-in-One Seat: This seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat (with a harness and tether) and to a booster seat as a child grows.
Booster Seat: Positions the seat belt so that it fits properly over the stronger parts of your child's body.
- Booster Seat with High Back: This type of booster seat is designed to boost the child’s height so the seat belt fits properly. It also provides neck and head support and is ideal for vehicles that don’t have head rests or high seat backs.
- Backless Booster Seat: A backless booster seat is designed to boost the child’s height so the seat belt fits properly. It does not provide head and neck support. It is ideal for vehicles that have head rests.
Choose the best car seat/booster for your child's weight and height.
Below is a great guide, but always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions for height and weight limits.
Properly Installing Your Car Seat and Restraining Your Child:
Car seat installation
- Always read the car seat’s instruction manual and the portion of your vehicle’s owner manual on car seat installation.
- Never place a rear-facing car seat in a seating location with a frontal airbag
- Always anchor the car seat to the car using the LATCH attachment system or vehicle seat belt exactly as directed by the car seat manufacturer
- The car seat must be secured tightly in the vehicle. It should not move side-to-side or front-to-back more than 1 inch when pulled at the belt path.
Properly position the harness on your child
Rear-facing: Harness straps should lie flat, not twisted, and be placed through the slot that is at or below your child’s shoulders.
Forward-facing: Harness straps should lie flat, not twisted, and be placed through the slot that is at or above your child’s shoulders.
The harness is snug enough when extra material cannot be pinched at the shoulder.
Make sure the chest clip is at armpit level.
Note: The National Highway Traffic Administration and Safe K.I.D.S are not affiliated with the Baby Safety Zone or Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.