Basic Child Car Seat Safety Rules

When on the road with your toddler, it is not enough to use seat belts. Seat belts are physically unsafe as this cannot properly secure your fidgety toddler. This is why toddler car seats are imperative. Along with these seats, correct installation and use must be observed to make sure your toddler stays safe and happy during the entire journey.

Cars are the number one mode of transportation in the United States. Hence, knowing the basic rules on child car seat safety is very important. After all, nothing is more important than your little one’s safety.

Law On Child Car Seats

The Basics

  • Children under 8 years of age must be seated at the car’s backseat in a child car seat or booster.
  • Make sure you read the instruction manual of your car and toddler car seat. Take note of important details such as specific information about car seat installation.
  • Before deciding on a particular car seat, see to it you have the seat inspected by an authorized technician to ensure correct fit and size.
  • Your toddler’s car seat must come with a warranty. A return policy must be stipulated if in case the seat does not fit your car or if your toddler experiences discomfort using it.
  • Take note of the seat’s expiration date. Most often, toddler car seats have a 6-year lifespan. Make sure you check the manufacturer’s manual that comes with the seat.
  • Refrain from buying second-hand toddler car seats as these may have missing parts, can easily crack and sag which only puts your toddler at risk.

For Rear-facing Car Seats

Infant or Bucket Seats

  • Only use infant car seats until your toddler is 11 months old and weighs no more than 20 pounds.
  • A 5 point harness with a modifiable front gives the most protection. Its strap slots must be below or level with your toddler’s shoulders. The chest clip should be at armpit height, not on the neck or tummy.
  • Make sure the infant seat has an impact foam feature (to help minimize shock in case of collision).
  • Rear-facing seats should be situated in the car’s backseat and it must not face front air bags.

Convertible Car Seats

  • Switch to a rear-facing convertible car seat once your toddler hits the age of 1 and weighs no more than 35 pounds.
  • See to it that the convertible car seat has a 5 point low bottom harness and front adjuster feature.
  • Secure the harness straps below or level to your child’s shoulders avoiding the stomach.
  • Chest clip must be at armpit level.
  • Make sure latch hooks are used rear-facing.

For Forward-facing Car Seats

  • Use a forward-facing car seat until your toddler reaches the age of 4 and weighs at least 40 pounds.
  • Install in the backseat of your car, never on the front seat to avoid the air bags.
  • Keep the shoulder part of the seat belt fastened so the car seat stays in place securing your toddler a snug fit even when he tries to move around it.
  • Secure the car seat’s harness as firmly as possible to ensure a tight fit.

For Booster Car Seats

  • Use a booster car seat until your toddler reaches 9 years old and weighs more than 40 pounds.
  • Tighten the car seat’s seat belt in a snug and safe position. If needed, use your body weight to put pressure. Make sure to tug on the harness to be sure the car seat will not move.
  • Extra padding, a headrest, lap and shoulder straps must be present.
  • Secure the lap harness low over his hips, avoiding the stomach. Shoulder belts must be positioned crosswise your toddler’s shoulder and chest, avoid his neck and face.

For Combination Car Seats

  • Recommended once your toddler is between 10 to 12 years old and weighs at least 65 to 85 pounds.
  • Install car seat using only 1 of these methods – LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), lap belt or lap and shoulder belt.
  • Combination seats must have a high 5 point harness feature.
  • The harness straps must be above your child’s shoulders.
  • His ears must stay under the top of the shell.
  • His back must be flat against the back of the car seat.
  • If shoulder belt does not fit accurately, refer to the shoulder belt guide.

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