Have you been questioning if your toddler is too big for his rear-facing car seat? Is your little one constantly begging you to sit in the front seat? Are you pregnant and wondering how to pick the safest car seat possible out of the overwhelming number of options out there? We at Dunwoody Pediatrics want to help you feel confident in the safety of your child at all times, so we've put together this guide to help. Feel free to read ahead to make sure you're using your car restraints appropriately.
Rear-facing Car Seat:
You'll want to keep your little one in the rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. It is the safest position for infants and toddlers to be, and rear facing seats help protect the child's head, neck and spine in the event of a collision. Infants and toddlers should remain in their rear-facing car seat until they reach the maximum weight or height allowed. Most convertible rear-facing car seats on the market currently can be used as rear facing until the child is at least 40 pounds or 2 years of age. Make sure to review your individual car seat manual to find it's own limits on weight and height because there are differences among models.
Forward-facing Car Seat:
Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat's weight and height limits, the child should transition to a forward-facing seat with a 5-point harness for as long as possible, until they out-grow the weight and height restriction of their seat's safety manual.
When a child outgrows their forward-facing seat they should switch to using a belt-positioning booster until the lap and shoulder belt fit appropriately. This means the lap belt fits snuggly across the child's thighs, not belly and the shoulder belt fits across the child's chest and not their neck or face. Usually this is when the child reaches 4 feet and
9 inches in height and the child is around 8 to 12 years of age.
Once the child outgrows their booster seat it is recommended that they remain in the back seat of the car until they are at least 13 years of age, and that they always use a lap and shoulder belt to buckle.
The main thing to remember is the longer you can delay transitioning from one stage until the next, the safer your child will be. Also, ensuring your child's seat is secured properly is of the utmost importance. Listed below are some resources that help describe different car seat safety features and how to utilize them. The first link also has a tool to help you find locations near you where you can take your seat to be checked for proper installation.
As always, if you have any other questions or concerns feel free to reach out to us and we'd be happy to help!