In our busy lives, it’s easy to be distracted from the basics of safety — take seat belts, for example. Studies show that a surprisingly high number of kids are not strapped in correctly. And all over the world, thousands of kids are still injured and killed needlessly from improper car seat restraints. So, let’s review the basics of seat belt safety. My top resource is an essential read for all parents: the newly updated 2011 guidelines for car seat safety, from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
The AAP recommends that all infants should ride rear-facing starting with their first ride home from the hospital. All infants and toddlers should ride in a Rear-Facing Car Safety Seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.
Types of rear-facing car safety seats: There are 3 types of rear-facing car safety seats: infant-only seats, convertible seats, and 3-in-1 seats. When children reach the highest weight or length allowed by the manufacturer of their infant-only seat, they should continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible seat or 3-in-1 seat.
Types of Car Safety Seats at a Glance
|Age Group||Type Of Seat||General Guidelines|
|Infants/Toddlers||Infant seats and rear-facing convertible seats||All infants and toddlers should ride in aRear-Facing Car Safety Seatuntil they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.|
|Toddlers/Preschoolers||Convertible seats and forward-facing seats
|All children 2 years or older, or those younger than 2 years who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their car safety seat, should use aForward-Facing Car Safety Seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.|
|School-aged children||Booster seats||All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a Belt-Positioning Booster Seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.|
|Older children||Seat belts||When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use Lap and Shoulder Seat Belts for optimal protection.All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the Rear Seats of vehicles for optimal protection.|