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Do you know how long to wait until you switch your little one to a forward-facing seat? Did you know your kid must be a teenager to ride in the front seat?
Trying to keep up with current information on car seat safety can be exhausting for parents. But this is one detail you want to get right.
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children in this country. In 2015, 248 children under 5 were saved by car seats. How can you make sure your little ones are safely buckled up on every car trip?
First, find an age- and size-appropriate seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a search tool to find the right car seat for your child, based on her birthdate, height and weight.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers tips for parents when shopping for car seats:
Never use a car seat that:
Once you have your seat, you need to properly install it, using either the lower anchors or a seat belt to secure it in place. Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s graphic on proper car seat installation. Once installed, go to a child safety seat inspection station near you, or to your local police station. They’ll inspect it, usually free of charge.
As your child grows, your car seat will need to change. But it’s important not to switch seats too early.
In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advised parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. Why? Young children in a forward-facing seat are five times more likely to be seriously injured than those in a rear-facing seat. A rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash.
The AAP breaks down the types of car seats for each age group:
*Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays low and snug across the hips and upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the middle of the chest and shoulder (not the neck).
The takeaway: Have your child remain in her seat as long as possible, until she hits the weight or height limit allowed on the seat.
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