As a parent, your child’s well-being should be your topmost priority. It is imperative that your child rides in a seat that is appropriate for his/her age and size. Choosing the correct car seat by age can be unnerving and extremely arduous for most parents.
A recent survey by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) highlighted several mistakes that parents make when choosing car seats by age. These errors include;
- Loose car seat installation
It is recommended that the seat should not shift more than two inches in any direction at any given time.
- Wrong positioning of the Chest Clip
Positioning the chest clip too low may be catastrophic; instead, it should be positioned at the armpit level.
- Wrong Harness slot
The positioning of the harness matters a lot. The harness should lie at or below your child’s shoulders in the rear-facing position. You also need to ensure that there is no slack between the harness and your child’s body. Why is it essential to route the harness correctly? The harness is configured in a way that protects your child from injury in the unlikely event that your car crashes.
- Using unsafe seat belt
The seat belt should not rest on your child’s face, neck or abdomen.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most parents and caregivers get it wrong when choosing the right car seats for children of different ages. In choosing a car seat by age, you must consider the standard regulations, your child’s size and weight and the manufacturer’s instructions.
What are the types of car seats by age?
Here’s what you need to know to guarantee your child’s safety.
- Rear-facing – New-borns to at least 2-year olds
Infants should be placed in a rear-facing position until they have attained two years of age. It is, however, advisable that they stay for as long as possible until they meet the seat’s height and weight requirements. There are different designs for the rear-facing seat; convertible, rear-facing only and all-in-one seats. Convertible seats accommodate larger babies in a rear-facing position.
It is essential to put your child in this position because, in the event of a crash, it ensures that a child’s neck, head, and spine are well protected as this set spreads the forces of the collision over the entire body.
While each state has its car seats law, the car seats must, however, meet the requirements of federal regulations. Most state laws require that the child stays in a rear-facing seat until they are at least one year old and weighing 20 pounds. You might want to extend to about two years as research indicates that toddlers are five times safer if they use a rear-facing seat up to two years of age.
While it might seem easier and convenient to have your child in the forward-facing seat, safety comes first. You might want to be patient for a little longer until the child comes of age.
- Harnessed Car Seat
Most states’ car seat laws require that children use a harness up to age three to four. That said, a seat belt may not adequately guarantee your child’s safety even at the age of four. The straps help by spreading the force of the crash over a wider surface area.
- Forward-Facing – From Two years until they outgrow the harness
Once your child has outgrown a rear-facing seat, it’s time to switch to a forward-facing. Alabama State law requires that a forward-facing seat should be used until the infant is at least five years old or weighing 40 pounds. The seat accords children sufficient crash protection and is much safer than using a normal seat with a safety belt.
These seats may be put in the front or rear. It is, however, advisable to set them in the back especially if there is an airbag at the anterior. There are three types of forward-facing seats; all-in-one, convertible, and combination seats. The all-one-one can be used as rear-facing, forward-facing or as a booster seat.
- Booster Seat – School-going children up to 80 pounds
Children should be safely confined to a booster until they are about 8-12 years old and weighing between 80-100 pounds. Booster seats help the vehicle belt fit well on a kid who has outgrown the forward-facing seat. Using a seat belt without a booster may subject the child to injuries as the belt may ride up to the child’s stomach or across the neck.
There are different types of booster seats recommended for different ages.
- Highback Booster
The back of the seat provides adequate protection to the head and the neck. They are especially useful in vehicles that have low backs. Some of these seats have detachable backs; thus it’s easy to make it backless.
- Backless Booster
As the name suggests, this type of seat has no back. They are only to be used in vehicles that accord sufficient head support.
- Combination Booster Seat
The combination of a car seat and a booster allows your child use the same seat while he/she grows up. The seat is usually used in vehicles with or without head support.
Ensure that you have the right car seat for your child for their protection and safety during journeys.