Infant car safety seats have saved thousands of children’s lives since they were made mandatory. While each state has its own laws on child safety seats, most states have roughly the same laws. A baby up to the age of 1 or 20 pounds must be in an appropriate restraining seat that is in the center of the back seat. A larger car seat is used after that and can be forward facing in the back seat, although rear facing is recommended in some states until the child is two years of age.
A child must be in a booster seat or car seat until they reach the height of 4 ft 9 inches in height and must use a safety belt in the booster seat. The forces of an auto accident can lead to an unbelted passenger being ejected from the vehicle or being killed by hitting something in the vehicle.
While seatbelts and car seats are mandatory and a driver can be ticketed for not using them, experts feel that 7 of 10 car seats for children are not used correctly. Seat belts and the seats in the car are designed to save adults and not children. This is why booster seats and car seats are so necessary during an accident or sudden stop.
An increase in passenger car seats for kids has lead to greater numbers of parents using them incorrectly. Some children have sustained high cervical spine injuries after an accident while in forward-facing auto accidents, some because of incorrect use of car seats. In one study, five children sustained such injuries and 2 of 5 incidents were the result of incorrect use of the car seat. This unusual injury was due to biomechanical forces from the accident causing forward flexion of the neck to such a degree as to cause the C spine injury.
Because this severe injury occurred in the presence of some parents using their car seats correctly, it has been recommended that the entire car seat industry work to change the design of the car seat so as to prevent these injuries from occurring. Education of parents and childcare workers is necessary in order to make sure the seats are being used right so as to minimize injuries.
In order to maximize safety, it is a good idea to select a car seat that meets tough industry standards. The seat should be relatively easy to install quickly and efficiently. Make sure you read the instruction manual. Try using the seat inside your vehicle. Make sure that it is appropriate to your vehicle size and shape. Make sure it fits your child’s size. If you buy a convertible seat, it will work from ages 0 months to 40 pounds. Infant-only seats may otherwise be easier to carry around and may fit a newborn much better than a convertible seat.
Use the seat rear-facing until the child reaches the recommendations of the car seat manufacturer or the legal regulations for car seats. If they differ, use the area’s legal recommendations. This should be at about age 2 years. Make sure you know how the seat works before purchasing it. Make sure you know how to lock and release the belts and that you know how to loosen and tighten the harness. Most stores will let you do this, at least on the sample item.