Stapleton Pediatrics Blog

Car Seat Safety Guidelines

By Nicole Erwin, MD
I am frequently asked questions about car seat safety and guidelines. I’m glad parents are responsible and concerned, since motor vehicle crashes represent the leading cause of death for children under age three in the U.S. Here we cover some of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ updated car seat recommendations.

Proper Install in Car
Before your baby travels in a car for the first time, make sure the car seat is properly installed. Most hospitals will help you secure your car seat before leaving for home, and local firehouses also check and install car seats. Please note that all car seats have an expiration date printed on them, and every car seat involved in a motor vehicle accident needs to be replaced.  

Proper Fit for Baby
Make sure the shoulder straps are positioned at a height at or below shoulder height. The “retainer clip” (the clip that goes across your infant’s chest) should be at the level of your baby’s armpits.

Rear-Facing for How Long?
Infants and toddlers should remain in a rear-facing car seat until age two or until they reach the maximum height and weight restrictions for their particular seat. The maximum weight for most infant car seats is 25 to 35 pounds. Many children outgrow their car seats via height. The child is safest when his/her head is at least one inch below the top of the car seat. This means many toddlers will likely need to be positioned rear-facing in a convertible car seat (which can be both rear- and forward-facing) in order to stay rear-facing until age two.  
The rear-facing position may be up to five times safer than forward facing. After age two, the seat can be positioned forward facing. However, studies out of Europe support continued benefit of the rear-facing position even up to age four; children just cross their legs for comfort.   
Booster Basics
Once children exceed the maximum height and weight restrictions for their forward-facing car seats, they should be positioned in belt-positioning booster seats. The lap belt should lie low and snug across your child's upper thighs. The shoulder belt should cross the middle of your child's chest and shoulder and be off of the neck.

Graduating from the Booster Seat
Children can come out of a booster at 4 feet 9 inches (57 inches) tall. For many children, this is after age eight. Children should avoid traveling in the front seat until they turn 13 years old and reach 100 pounds. Whether your kids are in the front or back seat, they must always wear a seatbelt.
Please contact us with any questions, and safe travels!
Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Posted: 3/3/2015 6:31:16 AM by | with 0 comments
Filed under: babies, carseat, safety

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